Somehow we tricked Washington, UBC and Western into driving all the way to Eugene to play Sectionals. Then we lost in the semis.
The final standings were UW, us, UBC, then Western. All four of those teams had substantial talent still standing on the sidelines. The top three teams are all separated by a hairsbreadth. The scores of the three games they played (13-12 UBC over Oregon, 13-12 Washington over UBC and 11-9 Oregon over UBC) are a good indicator of how close these teams are. Western is the clear 4th best team in the conference/region. (We have so few teams out here in the sprawling West that our regionals will be a repeat of conference play for 7 of the 8 teams.)
Our first game against UBC was back and forth the whole way. We took a 4-1 lead, but after that no one ever lead by more than one. We gave up the lead, then took half, then gave it up again and couldn't regain control down the stretch. UBC played a great game point completing ~15 passes without a turnover against some pretty good man-to-man defense to win. UBC is a really interesting team. They are incredibly deep and resilient. Although I think they have the players who could be superstars, they don't play that way. Instead, each player does her little part. They don't quit either; they just keep plugging away. The depth they have lets them play a bit of a different game from most teams. It is very much a 15-15-15-15 game as opposed to the 5-5-5-50 game we play.
After we lost we went down onto the dirt road to play OSU, who we beat 15-1. Their entire team pretty much graduated last year, but they miraculously put together the foundation of a good team. They are entirely freshmen and sophomores and there are a few women on there who look to develop into good players. Then we played Western. The weird thing about Western is that they are clearly the 4th best team in a Region with 3 bids. They know it. We know it. UBC and Washington know it. It is a strange situation. We started off playing very flat. We were stilling feeling the UBC game from earlier. Then Cali (sp?) hurt her ankle and that was pretty much the end of the game. (Western is very reliant on 3 players: Cali, Lindsey and Katie.) We woke up and went from 6-6 to 15-8.
Meanwhile, UBC coughed up an 11-8 lead and lost the finals to Washington 12-13. I watched most of the end of the game. Washington just quit turning it over. UBC's offense didn't look all that much worse than it had earlier, but Washington did a really nice job of cashing in their opportunities. The cool thing about UW's game is how pleasantly old school they are. They run a vertical stack and they bring their high count bail off of the front of the stack. It isn't the 80s-90s vert stack that Seaweed runs, but more of a 1998 DoG vert stack. Short, tight and crowded.
We were very excited to play UBC again. They were very bummed to play us again. A front came through ten minutes before game time and the weather went from 65, still and sunny to 45, windy and gray. Very windy. We were pumped. They were not. We were happy to turn it over and play defense. They were not. The final was 11-9, but at one point it was 11-7 with 6 minutes left before the hard cap. Again, testament to UBC's resilience that they scored the last two.
Looking ahead to Regionals, it is a coin flip for who wins. It is a coin flip for who has to play Western in the game to go. Whoever plays well at the end of their games against each other (of the big three) will win. Whoever doesn't will lose. I am very curious about are whether or not Whitman (who accepted the bid up from D-III) has enough game to challenge Western. I am curious how Western will manage their scarce resources. Will they try to sneak attack in semis? Or will they rest and rest and rest and go all out in the game to go?