2021 Coconut Classic: Tournament Preview

The 2021 Coconut Classic, a high school tournament, is a great way for many teams to wrap up their fall season.

The Wilson Girls won the 2019 Virginia State Champions. Photo: Kevin LeClaire — UltiPhotos.com

After nearly two years of disjointed and disrupted play, high school ultimate is nearly back in full swing. Postponed a year, the annual Coconut Classic is back in the swamps of New Jersey. A total of 18 teams from up and down the East Coast will be descending upon Freehold, NJ. For a lot of teams, this will be the culmination of their fall season and a final chance to get some live game reps in a tournament setting before the spring season.

This tournament has come a very long way from the days when I used to play. It is now drawing some of the top teams in the region to compete to close out the fall for many of them. Even now, the field is pared down slightly due to COVID-19 protocols, but it still offers plenty of exciting action for the next generation of ultimate stars.

Tournament Profile

Girls

In the girls division, it is shaping up to be a Mid-Atlantic showdown. Top teams from Virginia and New Jersey with Wilson out of Washington, D.C. rounding out the field of six teams.

Let’s start with those from out of state. A combo team of YLee and Whirlpool, known as Whirl-Y WACC, features a number of former YCC U-17 players out of DC who we have not gotten a chance to see on the national stage due to the pandemic. Koume Matsutori, MinJoo ‘MJ’ Muskovitz , Mia Bojadzievski, Gabby Valencia, and Abby Freund form a dynamic core to give other teams fits.

Meanwhile, fellow Virginia-based team HB Woodlawn enters with hopes of continuing to build for its spring season. Former WAFC U-17 member Carly Cameron, Eva Turner and Jasmine Taylor run the offensive backfield. Expect Lucy Griffiths and Gabby Everett to be doing the majority of the work downfield. With a couple of key veterans, this coaching staff is hoping to bring some of the young players along the way.

One of the biggest favorites to win this tournament has to be Wilson. Winners of the 2019 Virginia State Championships, they bring along a couple of star players along with a lot of young players. Former YCC standouts Margot Nissen and Lillie Franklin lead a veteran crew looking to lock horns with the best New Jersey has to offer. It will be interesting to see how the team plays with coaches Kelly Ross and Grant Franke absent. Dave Ohls will be filling in.

Speaking of NJ, Watchung Hills are the defending state champs and have been the dominant force in the state for many years now. Victoria Chin, Kahchi Fong and Yoon Sim will look to extend that domination beyond the borders of the state. A number of players on this team were part of the U-20 DEVYL team that finished second in the Northeast Youth Classic. Expect this team to be in the mix for the tournament finals.

Columbia High School Sparkle Motion is trying hard to get back into the national spotlight and compete for its first state championship. With a new coach and a couple of senior leaders, there is a good chance CHS can finally make that happen. Sydney Mannion, Abby Sullivan and Irene Chen will be the players to watch throughout the weekend for Sparkle Motion.

Rounding out the field is West Windsor Plainsboro. A fixture of the New Jersey state championship scene, Angela Li and Elayne Jia lead this combined team of schools from the North and South. They are eager to see some new opponents after a heavy dose of local competition.

Boys

On the boys side, there is a deep field full of quality teams. It is going to be a knock-down fight for some of the top teams in the tournament competing to come out on top of this 12-team field.

Out of Massachusetts, top-seeded Lexington looks to reassert itself in the state. With a few returners from the team that won the 2019 edition of this tournament. Ethan Wang, Matt Xia, and Wilson Kooi lead a team determined to make a real run to be champions again.

Pennsbury out of Yardley, PA is one of the biggest challengers to Westfield in this field. They won their own home fall tournament over Columbia High School earlier this month. Athletic as always, Chris Terry and Marley Kervick are two of the better defenders in the tournament.

The reigning New Jersey state champs, Columbia, enter with a few losses to teams in the field. However, this team has a way of steadily building into the spring and competing with the top teams in the region. Senior handlers Jack Griffith and Kye Haniph will run the CHS offense.

Top seed Westfield from New Jersey is eager to build upon its success from earlier in the fall, beating many of the teams attending while playing with split squads already this fall. This team is incredibly deep with a few veteran leaders, like Ben Spergel and Ethan Stack. It will be interesting to see how this team looks at full strength.

Much like the girls team, Wilson is a serious threat to win this tournament in the boys division. Claire Lee, Riley Frey and Josh Solomon lead the offense. This group says they are extremely excited to travel to their first tournament in over a year. It will be interesting to see how they match up with other top teams.

For HB Woodlawn, this tournament is a chance to make a splash and get some national buzz. The team is determined to go to the High School National Invite in the spring. Ephraim Connor and Ethan Drake lead a senior-heavy team with a lot to prove against some of the top teams.

This tournament hosts a deep field of teams with several capable of making runs or pulling off upsets. It is fantastic to have some of the high-level high school tournaments back.

  1. Chris McGlynn
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    Chris has been playing ultimate for close to a decade starting in Westfield, NJ. He played throughout college with Syracuse Scooby Doom before graduating in 2018. In his free time, Chris runs The Ultimate Podcast, interviewing athletes about their experiences with ultimate. You can reach him by email (cmcglynn84@gmail.com) or on Twitter (@theultimatecast).

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