Commonwealth Cup 2024: Tournament Recap (Women’s Div.)

Tufts emerged victorious over Michigan 13-5 while Notre Dame and University of Pennsylvania both impressed in semifinals. Plus, tournament lines

Tufts EWo’s Lia Schwartz at the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

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After a universe point battle in the semifinal, #7 Tufts EWO showed impressive mental resilience to come back and dominate against an athletic and deep Michigan squad. Tufts ran up a 6-0 lead against #22 Michigan Flywheel en route to claiming the Commonwealth Cup title 13-5, their depth and systems proving too much despite Michigan’s defensive pressure.

Competition Schedule and Results

commonwealth cup 2 ultimate frisbee 2024 3rd-7th place results

Tufts Wheels and Deals Against Michigan

After a universe point win over University of Pennsylvania in the semifinals, #7 Tufts Ewo arrived ready to play. They dominated over #22 Michigan Flywheel in a game that was not close. The first point set the tone of the game, where Michigan standout, Kat McGuire, almost got a run through block on Edi Lam, who was forced to make a difficult catch. But that’s the only defensive pressure Michigan could get for the rest of the point as Lia Schwartz, Emily Kemp, Jessie Chan, and Lam easily marched through the force middle defense.

Michigan started on offense with a standard vertical stack, but an unfortunate drop gave the Tuft’s D-line a short field – the first test for a D-line offense plagued with efficiency issues all weekend. Tufts was able to move the disc around the front of the vertical stack with ease, but a low throw gave the Michigan offense another chance. Michigan advanced the ball to their end zone line, but a slew of execution errors and throwing to covered people gave Tufts many opportunities to put in the break. To their credit, Michigan was able to earn the ball back a couple times, thanks to great defense from McGuire.

After multiple turns both ways, Schwartz picked threw a signature flick huck that felt like she was hucking for field position, but luckily Ryanne Barrett, another standout for Tufts, made an incredible and improbable catch. A few throws later, Barrett secured the goal for 2-0.

Tufts showed many defensive looks throughout the weekend, including a fearsome box and one zone, which they employed the next point. The Tufts wall should inspire fear like the iconic Stanford zones – the pressure it puts on teams speaks to their organization and skill as a team. They put the and one defender on McGuire, who was unfazed, but an errant throw over the top got swallowed by Lam. At this point, everything was going Tufts’ way. They played great offense to secure the break off a deflection by Michigan defender Calliope Cutchins. 3-0.

The defensive pressure only ratcheted up from there. The next point, Michigan only completed three passes until an attempted throw through the wall was stuffed by the Tufts defender. On the turn, the Michigan O-line defense continued their force middle strategy, which couldn’t slow Tufts, who impressed all weekend with their ability to move to their secondary and tertiary reset options from the front of the stack. In particular, their reset system is reminiscent of Brute Squad and their tendency to set up their open side resets in the positive space.

A few passes later, Schwartz spied Kemp open downfield and put up a beautiful cross field blade, 4-0. Tufts’ offense got better with every possession and Michigan had no answers.

It was not until 6-0 that Michigan was able to get on the board. The key to their success was connecting the handlers to cutters in their zone offense through improved spacing and more active handler motion. In Michigan’s next defensive point, they were able to get a block on a rushed upline throw, but an unsuccessful huck gave the disc right back to Tufts. Schwartz then dialed up another flick huck to Annabel White, who made an impressive catch between two Michigan players for the score to take half.

Coming out of half, Michigan seemed to find another gear for their zone offense – their handlers attacked into the wall more and were more precise with their over-the-top throws. But one rushed decision in the end zone led to a turnover.

The teams traded turnovers (one apiece), until Tufts found their typical efficiency. Ellie Kowalski threw a number of nice break throws as Tufts advanced up the field, with the point ending in another Lam assist. This point highlighted Tufts’ strengths: their depth of players and commitment to their system. Even without some of their stars, they were still able to put in a break by grinding out unders and field switches.

For the rest of the game, Michigan continued to have some offensive woes, but their defensive intensity never wavered. They were able to secure a callahan for a hold and even able to notch a break late in the game. But that was not enough to come back against Tufts, who closed out the game 13-5.

The Almost Upset

In the most close and competitive game of the day (#upsetalert), Pennsylvania Venus pushed Tufts to the limit with their athleticism and commitment to finding the open player through the chaos. The first point set the tone for the entire game with Tufts giving the ball away countless times on unforced errors and missed execution. After many turns, Pennsylvania was able to put in the break – Dagny Lott was key for them in the backfield all game. Pennsylvania earned two more breaks against Tufts with their composed offense and all of a sudden it’s 3-0. In particular, Chaily Derecskey and Lott were instrumental for Pennsylvania in the short field.

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  1. Grace Conerly
    Grace Conerly

    Grace has played frisbee for 9+ years. She's won some stuff and lost some stuff at various levels. Her most notable accomplishment is winning Triangle Ultimate’s indoor recreational winter league, 2019.

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