It was a hectic week, leading to a series of travel/weather disasters but ending in a victory.
I was actually quite grateful for the terrible weather, the drive to San Bernidino, the team not sleeping but an hour or two, the getting lost and arriving at the fields 25 minutes before game time, my flight being canceled so I missed all day Saturday and on and on... There are always things you cannot control and you have to roll with those things and come out on the other side. To get a chance to handle a mess of external adversity was a great thing. We weren't perfect, but good enough to win out on Saturday.
Sunday and Monday the weather was lovely: sunny and 50 with a thrower's wind. I love the Prez Day schedule with it's leisurely two-game Sunday (if you are in the top four.) We opened with Carleton and they struggled with our zone and never made it much of a game. As always, it was a bit sad for me. Then we played Cal for the pool and the 1-seed. They couldn't handle our zone either and we ran away in the first half. Emotional fatigue set in during the second half, our d fizzled and we traded out to finish 13-7. Still a great day.
Monday was a weird one; we played three California teams in the quarters, semis and finals. First up was Sonoma State. They are legit, but so so thin. When we played them on Saturday, the combination of weather and the fourth game of the day blues meant they had no interest and no fight, so we beat them 13-2. It was different in the quarters. They hung in early (4-3) before we tightened up and put on a three point run to close out half (7-3.) We kept up the pressure and finished up 13-6ish. The challenge for Sonoma will be to manage their talent. Maggie and Brin can ball and their supporting cast is getting better, but they've still only got 13 players on the roster. However, finishing tied for 7th will only help their chances of making Nationals; they need the wild cards.
We played UCLA in the quarters and they played great. Kodiak and Hawkins are the heart of this team, but the rest of the Bruins played great. We actually played great defense, but had lots and lots and lots of unforced errors and kept giving them chances to score...which they did. Lots of UCLA scores on their second possession of the point. We had the gut check timeout at 9-10 UCLA and ran 3-1 to win 12-11.
Cal again in the final. We mixed up the d, shifting back and forth between man and zone. An-chi played, but she looked hurt. She made some great throws, but wasn't the physical presence I expect her to be when she is healthy. The first half was close (7-5) but as our defensive pressure wore them down, we pulled away and won 13-6.
Looking at the landscape, things are still a bit unclear. The top teams are not as good as last year when Oregon, Washington, Wisco and the Skirts came into the season fully formed and dominant. The teams that came into the season with most of their roster intact look quite good; better and more polished than everyone else. I'd put UNC, UCLA, Cal (probably Stanford and UNCW) in that category. There are other teams (us, Wisco, SB, Washington) that are overhauling and look rougher and have farther to go. We definitely missed UNCW, Stanford, UBC and Washington; they are all top-10 and the tournament would have been very different with them. Stanford Invite should be great.