The North Carolina teams were fantastic.
March 21, 2018 by Raizl Campbell in News, Recap with 0 comments
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ARLINGTON, Va. — 16 girls high school teams battled this weekend in the most competitive girls varsity tournament on the east coast, the YULA Invite. In all, eight different states were represented, but when the semifinals were set, there were just two left: HB Woodlawn (VA), would be joined by three North Carolina schools. To add to the excitement and drama of the bracket, this would be the first time since the Triangle area YCC team, comprised of many of the North Carolina athletes, played a contingent of DC Rogue, the team that Triangle defeated for the gold last summer at the Youth Club Championships. Conditions that had been improving from a cool and breezy Saturday set the stage for a slightly windy but overall beautiful afternoon of ultimate.
Not every game can be determined by the first point, but by the end of the first half, it was clear that the way that East Chapel Hill (NC) started out was significant. Off the opening pull, ECH’s Ellie Cubrilovic picked the disc up and bombed a downwind huck for the score. However, not only did ECH continue to utilize the wind going downwind, but they were also able to outwork Carolina Friends (NC) going upwind for consistent completions and successful away passes. On the defensive side of the disc, ECH got their share of blocks including a layout D. By half, the score was 7-2 ECH, not surprising considering they are a team with only one rookie playing against a CFS team that was playing together for the first time.
The feel of the game was closer than the score indicated. Carolina Friends School did not fail to bring the expected heat. Their performance was led by Kate Lanier, who flashed talent all over the field. The handler defense was notable as well, as CFS quickly realized the need to play poachy handler D. All in all, CFS had a good game for a young team. They will definitely be a team on the rise for the rest of the season.
With HB Woodlawn returning many players from their incredibly successful 2017 campaign, many people thought HB would be the team to beat at their home-town tournament. They rolled through pool play mostly untested, and used a four goal run late against WJUC selection Tess Johnson and Lexington High School to pick up an 8-5 quarterfinal win.
Chapel Hill (NC), on the other hand, went 3-0 in pool C as the 2-seed, totaling a +28 goal differential. Led by their own WJUC player Clil Philips, this semifinal showdown featured two dominant high school teams. Chapel Hill — playing this year with some talented Durham players that previously played with CFS — struck first, looking good on both offense and defense, especially utilizing their handler movement. Their upwind, up-line handler weave throughout multiple points proved to be the difference in the first half, and Chapel Hill was able to go into the break up 7-5. One of Chapel Hill’s coaches, UNC Pleiades’ Callahan nominee Jenny Wei, expressed what was happening on the field as “the girls having fun making adjustments on the spot and working with them.”
HB Woodlawn played tough and featured a lot of WJUC selections Caroline Tornquist and Ella Juengst. With Tornquist’s lefty backhand and Juengst’s speed, HB definitely pushed Chapel Hill. As the wind picked up, Chapel Hill started to throw zone, and while it took a couple of turnovers to get into the flow, HB broke their zone multiple times.
When Juengst and Tornquist weren’t on the field, HB flashed its depth. Throughout the tournament, HBW showed that it might have one of the deepest teams in the country. Coach Leslie Keller opted to keep the lines open at such an early tournament and wanted to focus on continuing to build that team chemistry.
HB opened up the second half with a clean offensive point to close the gap to 7-6, but Chapel Hill responded with a hold of their own. With time running out, Chapel Hill sealed the game with an exciting upwind break to up up 9-6, sealing the win. The hard cap came on as HB was moving upfield, and by the time they scored, the game was over, 9-7 for Chapel Hill.
An All Chapel Hill Final
With HB Woodlawn falling in the semifinals, the faceoff for the title was between Chapel Hill and East Chapel Hill, a cross-town rivalry featuring schools a mere eight minutes from each other. “Rivalry” might be too strong of a word: the opponents in this game have played on teams together for years, and the excitement to play close friends showed. In addition to the excitement of the competition, weather finally started looking up, giving this game a slightly summer club tournament feel.
The first half featured a lot of offensive holds with both teams trading points. The game started off fast: back to back hucks tied the game at one. While the teams continued to trade, both defensive lines were getting multiple opportunities but failed to convert. The first run of the game belonged to Chapel Hill, who got the elusive break to go up 5-3. East Chapel Hill, who had been limiting large runs from opponents all weekend, was able to pick up a critical hold and utilize a handler sag to create a turnover and break back to tie the game at five.
“This was a very high-strung game with many mistakes while trying to impress friends and teammates,” said ECH coach Josh Hartzog. This was definitely the case, as there were execution breakdowns on both sides such as forgetting the force. Hartzog said, “Everyone was making mistakes, but Chapel Hill was doing a better job of executing off of the East Chapel Hill mistakes.”
Chapel Hill took half 7-6 as each team started to execute their break chances. Looking to expand their lead in the second half, Chapel Hill switched up their defensive tactics. They began to utilize a force middle, and it worked out well. While ECH was able to score once against the force middle early, CH finally achieved two breaks on tight downfield defense and great handler pressure. On the turn, they used quick dishy passes and hucks by the handlers to score those breaks, closing out the game at 9-6.
While the end result might not have been what ECH would have liked, it was definitely clear from the sidelines how much fun these girls were having playing competitive ultimate against not only their opponents but their friends.
- Ella Juengst (HB Woodlawn)
- Caroline Tornquist (HB Woodlawn)
- Dawn Culton (East Chapel Hill)
- Kate Lanier (CFS)
- Tess Johnson (Lexington)
- Beth Manturuk (East Chapel Hill)
- Clil Phillips (Chapel Hill)