D stands for dogfight, and that is exactly what Pool D promises to be. Pool D contains three of the nation’s biggest contenders in #4 seed Iowa, #5 seed Tufts, and #9 seed Washington. All three of these teams have produced impressive r...
D stands for dogfight, and that is exactly what Pool D promises to be. Pool D contains three of the nation’s biggest contenders in #4 seed Iowa, #5 seed Tufts, and #9 seed Washington. All three of these teams have produced impressive results this season, all three possess key standout players, and all three have experienced recent success at Nationals. Add in Texas Melee, the big upset story from last year who is finally healthy and playing their best ultimate of the season, and Ottawa, a team that will benefit from being relatively unfamiliar to their opponents, and you know that Pool D is going to be a fun one to follow.
Iowa Saucy Nancy (#4)
Iowa Saucy Nancy is a team that knows how to find success at Nationals. In the last two years, Saucy Nancy has made two consecutive Quarterfinals appearances, each time losing to Oregon. The memory of last year’s heartbreaker—they lost on universe in a game they should have won—must still leave a bitter taste in the mouths of their many returners, and you can bet that Iowa will come out with fire, ready to redeem themselves.
Luckily, they have all the tools to do just that. An experienced team with an experienced coach, Saucy Nancy is characterized by smart play, offensive chemistry, and an arsenal of defensive looks. With a ferocious four-man cup, an effective junk zone, and tight man-to-man coverage, Saucy’s defense is nothing but disruptive. And on O, Saucy runs their h-stack with precision and efficiency. The breaks of Chelsea Twohig and Bekah Hickernell permit Saucy to use all parts of the field, while the continue throws of their cutters keep the disc and the defense in constant motion.
As for great players, Iowa has many. Leading the charge are Chelsea Twohig and Liza Minor. Twohig is a seasoned handler who will run the offense for Saucy. This girl is fearless. Look for her to take an appropriate amount of risks, busting out hammers and breaks like it’s her business. Liza Minor will often be on the receiving end of things. A quick precision cutter, Liza Minor is most deadly when she is cutting under and then distributing the discs to her teammates. Also keep an eye on Dana Demmert, Anna Pritchard, and Jen Nowak, athletic cutters that will make their presence known on offense.
It’s interesting to note that all of Iowa’s losses except for one (against Colorado at Centex, without Twohig) have come at the hands of Regional rivals. Against out of region competition, their record is nearly unblemished. Still, Iowa will have to battle Tufts and Washington for the pool, and it will be fun to see how they fare in these high-profile matchups.
Liza Minor scores the final goal in Iowa's 16-15 pool play upset of Washington last year (Christina Schmidt - Ultiphotos)
Players to Watch: Chelsea Twohig, Liza Minor
What to Watch For: Coach Mikey Lun’s strategic adjustments, Minor’s forehand hucks out of the middle, expert use of space.
Tufts Ewo (#5)
For Tufts, nothing short of a finals appearance will be able to top the surprising success they experienced at Nationals 2012, when as the sixteen seed overall they lost a tight semifinal game to eventual champs Washington Element. (The Tufts-Washington pool play matchup will be interesting precisely because of this recent history). But Tufts is no longer a surprise story. In fact, they have been able to train this season with Nationals in mind. With a strong showing at Centex and an easy stroll through Regionals, Tufts has set themselves up to repeat their performance of a year ago.
This year’s Tufts’ team is deep and returning their top guns from last year: Callahan nominee Claudia Tajima and Hailey Alm. These two players are impossible to stop individually. Put them together, and it’s pure carnage. Tajima’s throws are among the best in the women’s game with huge hucks, easy breaks, and a punishing hammer. Her size and smart movement make it difficult to deny her the disc and impossible to stop her on the mark. As for A