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2018 National Championships: Women’s Day One Recap

By: Eliza Pugh

On an action-packed Thursday, each of the four pools resulted in some exciting shake-ups. The top four teams won all of their games to hold seed and earn byes into the quarterfinals. Three of the bottom four teams, including home team San Diego Wildfire, won upset victories to advance to the pre-quarters tomorrow. Friday morning will prove interesting with some surprising matches in the championship bracket, while the last four teams will play in the consolation bracket.

Pool A

(1) Brute Squad 3-0
(13) Schwa 2-1
(12) Heist 1-2
(8) Nightlock 0-3

At the end of the first day, Boston Brute Squad stands atop Pool A, cementing their bye into the quarterfinals. Nightlock will drop to the consolation brackets. In the pre-quarters, Schwa will play Wildfire, and Heist will face Scandal.

Brute Squad beat Heist in under an hour, then struggled a bit against Schwa before finding their stride and topping off the day with a win against an exhausted Nightlock. Schwa gave Brute Squad their biggest challenge of the day by playing smart offense in which Schwa forced the disc towards the wind (to the “high side”) and isolated cutters against Brute Squad’s person defense. At one point, Schwa was only down 10-9, but Brute Squad pulled away and barely looked tired as they wrapped up the game.

Nightlock started off against Schwa in a game of runs. Schwa broke to start and went on a four-point run, with Nightlock slowly regaining control to take half 8-7. Schwa responded with a three-point run in the second half. Schwa’s Mariel Hammond made an overhead grab to tie the game at 11-11 and bring it to double-game point – which they won. Nightlock played Heist next, with both teams throwing zone to force difficult throws in the wind. Nightlock’s strong defensive line, including stalwarts Michelle “Hydra” McGhee, Shayla Harris and captain Kira Lou, proving they could generate turns and convert, but it was not be enough to contain veteran Heist star Robyn Wiseman, who was involved in nine of their fourteen goals (six assists, three goals). In the last round of the day, Nightlock couldn’t match Brute Squad’s legs, and Brute walked away with the 15-4 win.

After a quick loss to Brute Squad, Heist upset Nightlock and started their last game of the day against Schwa on top. But the second half was anybody’s game, and both teams relied heavily on their star players. Heist’s Wiseman delivered, as did Austin Prucha, who had five goals and two assists in the game. But they needed more depth to answer Schwa’s Hammond, Sara Stratton and Julia Sherwood, who were everywhere on both sides of the disc, contributing to Schwa’s 15-12 victory.

Schwa was perhaps the biggest story of the women’s division today, upsetting Nightlock and Heist. Like horses out of the starting gate, they never looked back. With upsets against Nightlock and Heist, and 10 points put up against Brute Squad, only tomorrow will tell if they can keep up their momentum in bracket play.

Pool B

(2) Fury 3-0
(7) 6ixers 2-1
(14) Traffic 1-2
(11) Phoenix 0-3

Fury took care of business in Pool B, coming out strong against Phoenix, Traffic and the 6ixers. Alex Snyder connected with Maggie Ruden on a few deep looks early on, and for the rest of the day, every one else played nearly error free.

The 6ixers exhibited today that they are more than capable of adapting their offense and playing small ball when they need to. A team that’s known for winning discs in the air and overpowering teams with their athleticism, the 6ixers adjusted to the crosswind in their first-round game against Traffic by playing with quick-release throws and hitting the under cuts on the open and break sides. Cat Phillips and Brittney Dos Santos were dominant forces for the 6ixers offense, and Traffic struggled to swing the disc in the wind against the zone. The 6ixers continued to cruise in their game against Phoenix before losing to Fury in the last game of the day. They are well-situated for their pre-quarters game against Rival tomorrow.

Seeded last in Pool B, Traffic only needed one win to secure a spot in the pre-quarters. After losing to Fury and the 6ixers, Traffic got their chance against Phoenix. Star handlers Rachel Moens and Catherine Hui carried Traffic to a 15-9 upset victory, earning them the chance to play Ozone in the pre-quarters.

Jenny Wei was seemingly everywhere on the field for Phoenix, but it didn’t prove enough to give Phoenix a win today. They played a tight game against Traffic, tying things up at 4-4. But Traffic won the next point, after many turns back and forth, and pulled ahead, not to look back again.

Pool C

(3) Riot 3-0
(6) Ozone 2-1
(10) Rival 1-2
(15) Pop 0-3

Riot cleaned up Pool C, making all of their games look routine. They were poised and executed perfectly in the wind, rarely mis-throwing the disc. In their first game, Riot went up 3-0 before Rival was able to get on the board. Riot went on to win all three of their games by five or more points. As the day went on, they just seemed to get better, with Kelly Johnson having an all-around spectacular day. By their third and final game of the day against Ozone, they were consistently finding Jaclyn Verzuh in the back of the end zone.

Ozone, however, did not need the win against Riot to secure entry into bracket play. Ozone got wins against Pop and Rival by utilizing timely switches on person defense and capitalizing on uncanny quick-release throws from center handlers Paula Seville and India Stubbs, who were nearly unstoppable with their give-and-goes when they were on the field together.

Rival also showed a lot of depth today, using their whole roster to fight for their spot in the pre-quarters until the very end of the long day. As usual, Sophie Knowles was involved in a number of their scores, and despite losses to Riot and Ozone, when they needed to beat Pop to advance, they did. Pop showed flashes of impressive flow, but were, for the most part, unable to convert the points they needed. Jenny Gaynor and Makella Daley each had excellent games, dictating much of the downfield disc movement. Pop ran a fluid offensive system but had too many execution errors, and Rival was able to take advantage of those to outrun them to a 15-9 victory for the third spot in the pool.

Pool D

(4) Molly Brown 3-0
(5) Scandal 2-1
(16) Wildfire 1-2
(9) Nemesis 0-3

Molly Brown swept Pool D relatively easily, save for a slight scare in their third game against Scandal. When Molly Brown started their day against Nemesis, they were still finding their stride. Yet they came down with more 50-50 shots and generated more Ds, and Nemesis couldn’t keep up. Molly Brown seemed to further refine their game in their second match up of the day against Wildfire. The wind proved to be no obstacle for Molly Brown’s systems or to any of Claire Chastain’s throws. It was only when they were up 14-10 against Scandal that they may have gotten a little comfortable. Scandal scored three in a row to make it 14-13, before losing 15-13.

Scandal’s first game against Wildfire was probably closer than Scandal wanted. But anchored by handlers Kath Ratcliff and Jessie O’Connor, Scandal pulled out the win. Their victory over Nemesis secured their place in the pre-quarters against Heist tomorrow morning.

Nemesis seemed to draw the short straw when they got seeded into Pool D with the tournament’s fourth and fifth seeds. Although they’re a solid team that fights with tenacity on defense, Nemesis’ offense looked a little disorganized throughout the day, and they couldn’t connect on the long balls. After losing to Molly Brown and Scandal, they couldn’t find the legs they needed against Wildfire, and after being down by one or two for most of the game, eventually lost 13-10.

Wildfire had what may have been the most exciting upset of the day against Nemesis. Maybe the home-field advantage helped, or maybe the reckless abandon a team can play with when they have nothing to lose was the spark they needed to win that last game. The pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place on offense, and they grinded relentlessly on defense in the game that mattered for them. They often looked to connect on deep throws to the athletic Mei Bruist and Dena Elimelech, and they have the handlers who can go the distance in Hannah Walter and captain Lindsay Lang. On the points that seemed to have an endless number of turns, they had players like Ronnie Eder who made big defensive plays. Winning the grind points paid off, and Wildfire earned the 13-10 victory and a spot in the pre-quarters tomorrow against Schwa.