Two debut teams, plenty of debut players, and some notable wins in a brief Week 2.
March 24, 2022 by Graham Gerhart and Jenna Weiner in Recap with 0 comments
After a big opening mini-tournament weekend, Week 2 in the Western Ultimate League had only a pair of games. But there was plenty to see with Seattle and San Francisco playing host with reinforced rosters, taking on two teams playing their season openers. And the nascent Oregon Onyx were making their franchise debut. For fans, that meant a lot of new names and faces getting their first crack at WUL competition.
Perhaps the advantage of having a week to play combined with home court was enough to help Seattle and San Francisco both emerge victorious. Or perhaps there was more to it.
Results & Standings
Los Angeles 0-0
San Francisco 1-2
San Diego 0-1
Seattle’s Athleticism Shines in Murky Home Opener Against San Diego
Most mental endurance coaches will preach the same message about weather: it’s an uncontrollable, try not to focus on it. Both San Diego and Seattle tried to internalize that in their game on Saturday, but neither quite succeeded, as the conditions led to a number of turns in an otherwise exciting game.
Despite the weather doing its level best to derail things, Seattle managed to find their footing early on in the game, and it took San Diego until well into the third frame to get into their own rhythm, giving Seattle a lead in the first half that they never let get too close.
That wasn’t the story, though. The story of the game was how easily Seattle beat San Diego to the open side with dominator cuts and front of stack discipline. Seattle scored five points off upline cuts alone, accounting for a third of their scoreline. They would have had another two upline goals were they not retracted thanks to a call on the field. Beyond upline cuts, Seattle tallied three more goals off relatively uncontested open side cuts from the front of the stack. In total, more than half of Seattle’s goals came from their handlers or ace cuts to the open side.
This isn’t overly encouraging for the San Diegans, as the poor conditions seemed to limit Tempest’s options outside of the open side cuts, but they just did not have to look for those as often. Only two goals from Seattle were due to around break shots. They either beat San Diego with inside flicks, or open side goals. One has to think this will be a major emphasis for Super Bloom headed forward, especially with so few games in the season before playoffs.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Super Bloom. While Seattle certainly had the hotter start, the SoCal team started sinking in roots after half, scoring eight of their twelve points in the last two quarters, and limiting Tempest to only six points of their own.
What worked for San Diego was their commitment to attacking the break side as they got closer to the end zone. There were plenty of different offensive looks for Super Bloom as they worked it down the field, but once they got close to the end zone, their best option almost always came from a breakside cut. The team score five of their twelve off breakside cuts, which is probably better understood in context of their struggles to get open upline or from cuts to the open side. Seattle’s athletic defenders were too good at preventing the easy option for San Diego, but they, in turn, were aggressive in attacking the unprotected area of the end zone, especially in the second half.
San Francisco Bounces Back, Oregon Drops Debut
After an 0-2 start to their season with losses to the Arizona Sidewinders and the Utah Wild down in Arizona in Week 1, the San Francisco Falcons desperately needed to rebound in their first home game of the season. While it was shaky to start, SF did pick themselves up enough to secure a 16-13 win over the Oregon Onyx, who were making their franchise debut on the road. The win steadies the ship for the Falcons, while the Onyx will look to their own home opener in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Astra for their first win of the season.
In the end, the Falcons scored the final three points of the game to put it away, Vivian Chu playing a particularly notable role with a huge layout block to deny an Oregon opportunity alongside tireless, incisive work in the backfield. Claire Toth scored the final goal for the Falcons, punctuating a productive day for the local college product out of UC Berkeley. Compared to the first points of the game, which saw several unforced turnovers from San Francisco that led to a quick 3-1 Oregon lead, the Falcons looked far more composed in the second half, perhaps buoyed by their first hometown crowd in franchise history.
Ahead of the game, we knew little to nothing about this Oregon Onyx team, as they came into existence mere months earlier, albeit with a roster composed mostly of semi-known quantities from the Oregon Schwa and Oregon Fugue club and college programs, respectively. Two of the standout names that were certainly circled ahead of time were Aly Steinfeld and Claudia Tajima, both with championship experience from their time with club team Boston Brute squad. On the WUL field, both proved that their club experience more than carried over, with Tajima running the show and dictating the Onyx’s quick movement from the handler space and Steinfeld an always-present threat downfield. Between them they were directly involved in about half of all of Oregon’s goals, alongside crucial contributions from longtime Oregon veterans Morgan Zajonc, Kimber Coles, and Aubri Bishop.
With rain peppering the Bay Area earlier in the day and cloudy skies threatening further wet weather throughout the game, both teams liberally employed zone defense looks. The Onyx leaned on a number of different zone defensive looks, including a suffocating four-person cup that at times slowed the Falcons’ offense to a near halt. On the San Francisco side, they ran plenty of person defense alongside their zones, but the Oregon offense was still able to take advantage of the inside lanes offered by the Falcons’ defense.
For the Falcons, their star power has always been evident, and being able to rotate in club championship-winning players such as Magon Liu, Sharon Lin, and Jessie O’Connor brought a needed dose of veteran nous they were missing in Arizona. Liu, Lin, and O’Connor, alongside the aforementioned Chu, helped stabilize the San Francisco offense when they gave up strings of breaks throughout the game. Additionally, due in part to SF’s proclivity toward beating themselves more than letting the Onyx do all the work, it was a streaky game. At points, both teams were able to establish multiple goal leads only for the game to quickly be tied up a few points later. The fact that the Falcons were able to pull out the win is a step forward as compared to their losses in the desert, but to keep themselves in championship contention they’ll need to clean up the unforced errors and execute at the level we’d expect from them.
As for Oregon, they’ll rue not converting all of the many chances they had in their franchise opener, but a close loss on the road in the Onyx’s first ever game is nothing to sniff at. In particular, their zone defense worked wonders to limit SF’s big play game, something that Oregon will be able to take with them back to the Pacific Northwest for their own home opener. Offensively, the Onyx frequently tried to get the disc deep to Steinfeld, who had a height advantage over most of the Falcons defenders. However, once San Francisco deployed Michelle McGhee to lock down Steinfeld in one of the best one-on-one matchups we’re likely to see all season, including back-to-back handblocks on each other, that outlet largely dried up. Steinfeld will likely continue to be a potent threat against most any team that the Onyx will face, and as long as there isn’t an incredible defender like McGhee there to stop her, it should make for easy offense for the rest of Oregon’s inaugural season.
|4||San Diego Super Bloom||-||4|
|5||San Francisco Falcons||+2||7|
|7||Los Angeles Astra||-1||6|
Highlight of the Weekend
The Tempest’s Kat Songer got off her feet for a two-handed block in Seattle’s win over San Diego.
After the second weekend of play, here’s our top
10 12 GMs:
- Tyler M. (256)
- Graham G. (241)
- Aubree D. (235)
- Jesse C. (224)
- Akshat R. (215)
- Ellen R. (210)
- Ian G. (208)
- Keith R. (203)
- Andrew B. (199)
- Peter Z. / Jesse B. / Henry A. (197)
Graham G. made a big jump from 7th to 2nd, whose captain pairing of Han Chen and Kaela Helton were productive this weekend, with some help from Jamie Ericksson.
Akshat R. entered the top 10, and Jesse C. moved up to 4th. Like Graham, both had Helton in the captain’s slot along with some other active players from the weekend.
Ellen R., who is also doing well in the WULInsider Fantasy, landed in the top 10 with captains Steph Lim and Han Chen both active, along with being one of the only players to roster Onyx star Aly Steinfeld.
Top Scorers in Week 2
And the top scoring players for the week1
- Sharon Lin (San Francisco) – 7 [1% rostered]
- Avery Jones (San Diego) – 6 [12%]
- Claire Toth (San Francisco) – 6 [3%]
- Kaela Helton (San Francisco) – 5 [71%]
- Aly Steinfield (Oregon) – 5 [3%]
- Claudia Tajima (Oregon) – 5 [42%]
- Morgan Zajonc (Oregon) – 5 [1%]
- Han Chen (San Francisco) – 5 [26%]
- Jamie Ericksson (Seattle) – 5 [30%]
- Michelle McGee (San Francisco) – 5 [3%]
Sharon Lin’s robust three goal, three assist, and one block statline showed off her playmaking ability, as the Fury vet was instrumental in the Falcons win. Claire Toth was another surprise strong performer, as few GMs saw her coming. Meanwhile, the conditions, zone, and turnovers dampened the scoring for Seattle and San Diego, a pretty stark contrast from Seattle’s last outing.
Top Scorers Overall
- Han Chen (San Francisco) – 42 [26% rostered]
- Lindsey Doyle (Arizona) – 39 [2%]
- Jade McLaughlin (Arizona) – 33 [12%]
- Ari Nelson (Arizona) – 33 [12%]
- Sally Mimms (San Francisco) – 27 [6%]
- Qxhna Titcomb (Seattle) – 27 [54%]
- Michelle McGee (San Francisco) – 27 [3%]
- Seven different players tied with 24 points
It’s no surprise to see Han Chen move up to the top spot past the inactive Arizona players, adding three goals, one assist, and one block to her season statline. McGee delivered four blocks to go with one assist against Oregon to climb the ladder.
Does not include players who were not rostered. ↩