August 15, 2013 by Keith Raynor in Preview with 2 comments
The Women’s Division of Chesapeake Invite will play an interesting role in the landscape of the season. Two of the division’s strongest teams will have to battle teams fighting for regional bids to up their chances at earning a ticket to the Club Championships. The small five team format in Leesburg, Virginia, means we are looking at a single pool round robin, followed by bracket play; play that will make a difference come the Series.
Chesapeake’s (it was formerly just the Open) position in the Women’s Division has varied in recent years. Some unfortunate complications canceled the tournament in 2011, but last season’s was a mostly regional affair dominated by Scandal. In 2010, it was a highly competitive tournament with a number of nationals teams making the trip to Poolesville for a rousing midseason battle. As teams, USA Ultimate, and tournament organizers grow more familiar with the Triple Crown Tour, it is possible we will see changes down the road for a number of tournaments, including Chesapeake.
We are hitting the home stretch. For some teams, this is their last tournament before the Series. It is wild to think that this is the first of the final few weekends of the club regular season.
Chesapeake Champs DC Scandal Return To Action
It has been a month and a half since we last saw Scandal at the US Open. At that point, they looked to have the potential to join Fury and Riot in the highest echelon of the Women’s Division. They’ve won this tournament the past two times it was held, though over fields of varying strength. The DC women have established themselves as #2 in USAU’s Club Rankings and #3 in Ultiworld’s Power Rankings, so all expectations are for them to have a big weekend.
World Games Gold Medalists Opi Payne and Sandy Jorgenson, along with Coach Alex Ghesquiere and U-23 Women’s Gold Medalist Lauren Sadler, are all back in the fold, fully locked in and focused. A more polished offense is something to watch for, as we already know their defense can be oppressive against even the best teams. Rookie handler Jessie O’Connor was playing very well at the US Open, earning herself a lot of play time, so we’ll see if she is continuing to be a notable role player for Scandal.
How High Is The Ozone Ceiling?
We know Ozone is good. They’ve got a high talent level across the board, have some depth, and seem to have really bought in to their team philosophies this year. A string of Saturday games won’t define their season. However, we’ve seen Ozone against top semis-quality teams only twice this year, and they’re 0-2, taking losses to Scandal at Winston Cup Classic and Nemesis at Terminus.
They cruised through most of their other games, perhaps implying they are in that top tier. Seeing them dominate weaker opponents and push Scandal could act as some level of confirmation. They’ll be missing a few bodies in Virginia, but if their offensive line is still firing on all cylinders as it was at Terminus, their matchup against Scandal’s stifling D-line should be exciting to see.
Maddy Frey and Miranda Roth-Knowles were both doing work for the offense at Terminus, while Haley Reese stepped up for their defense. They’ll be looking to these veterans and to use their depth through a four game Saturday so they will be as fresh as possible for their day-ending Scandal matchup, and a possible final rematch.
Bent Can Close The Doors And Lock Out The Bid Looters
The Select Flight New York team is currently sitting on the Northeast Region’s third strength bid, a much more comfortable position than the one they ended last season in. The Northeast finished with only two bids (after the Capitals skipped the regular season) and Bent lost to Brute Squad in a tight 14-12 battle in the game-to-go. Meanwhile, on the final day of the regular season, a sanctioned scrimmage between Mid-Atlantic teams Hot Metal and Green Means Go played a role in earning their region a second bid, amidst some controversy.
Lo and behold, those two teams are hoping to score some points for their region in Virginia by taking down Bent, while a few others who won’t be in attendance are knocking on the door. Bent sits at #13 in both the USAU Club Rankings and Ultiworld Power Rankings.
If Bent can put up solid results — beating the lower seeded teams reasonably and not getting blown out by the higher seeded teams — they can help protect the bid-rich Northeast.
A Short Week For Green Means Go
Probably still feeling some of the bruises and aches accrued at Colorado Cup, Green Means Go – along with Bent – will be looking for a strong performance in their second straight weekend of high level competition. The Philadelphia squad is the only team at the tournament that has played every other team already, but they’ve only beaten the one team seeded below them, Hot Metal. Both Ozone and Scandal worked them over at the early season WCC, and Bent has bested them twice.
Weather doesn’t indicate taxing conditions, but playing four games Saturday just five days after playing your toughest tournament of the season is no small task. They’re currently #20 in Ultiworld’s Power Rankings and #21 in the USAU Club Rankings, so their odds of winning a bid are not particularly high, but this weekend is their last chance to keep that hope alive.
Hot Metal’s MVP Could Be The Camera
For Pittsburgh, it has been a tough start to the season. Their 0-fer at Terminus may have eliminated them from strength bid contention, as they’re situated at #25 in the USAU Club Rankings and #19 in the Ultiworld Power Rankings. Chesapeake will be the team’s last performance before the Series.
Fortunately for Hot Metal, they’ll be seeing the two teams that will stand in their way if they want to return to the Club Championships. In region rival Green Means Go has beaten them already this year, but they will get a chance to scout them and test matchups. The juggernaut is, of course, Scandal, who had no trouble pasting Green Means Go earlier in the year, and beat Hot Metal by nearly a 10 point average in two games at last year’s Mid-Atlantic Regionals. Beating them will take a pitch perfect effort from Pittsburgh and some stumbles on the part of the reigning MA Champs.
With that in mind, Hot Metal will need to be outpacing the mental game against their opponents. Positioning themselves for the strongest Regionals run possible seems to be the best goal for their Chesapeake weekend.