The scores are in and the seeds are set. The eight teams competing in the women’s DI club quarterfinals have all booked their tickets to Austin, and are conducting heavy scouting reports on their first round opponents.
Here is how the seeds worked out:
1. ORSU (CR1 #1)
2. Atlanta (CR3 #1)
3. Glendale (CR2 #1)
4. Seattle (CR1 #2)
5. NOVA (CR3 #2)
6. Belmont Shore (CR1 #3)
7. Austin (CR2 #2)
8. Chicago North Shore (CR2 #3)
This is the first year that the women’s DI club nationals is beginning with quarterfinals instead of a round of 12. In years previous, the top four teams received byes through the first round, affording them a huge advantage recovery wise during a two-game weekend. Now, all of the teams begin on even footing. If any territory is sore about the allocation of seeds, it’s the CR3, which only received two seeds despite having three teams finish in the top eight last year. The CR2 only had two last year and absorbed CR3’s extra seed.
Glendale v Belmont Shore
Austin v Atlanta
Seattle v NOVA
ORSU v Chicago North Shore
Taking a look at each game, some are easier to predict than others. Glendale is has killed it this season, and they’ll be the most interesting team to watch this year. They’ve had an influx of national team players, so they should go into the post-season then they have in years past. Belmont Shore put in an excellent show against ORSU this weekend, losing 10-6 in the final minutes of the game, but that outcome is more of a commentary on the depth of ORSU’s travel squad.
Should the Raptors win their opener, they’ll take on the winner of Atlanta v Austin. The Valkyries will have the benefit of hometown advantage, but that’s about it. The Harlequins officially locked up the top CR3 seed with a 26-7 win over Boston. Atlanta advanced to last year’s final and only just lost to the San Diego Surfers, who are now doing well in the Women’s Premier League. They have great depth and a well of experience that should see the Georgians over the hosts. Austin rebounded after its road loss to Chicago North Shore with a 29-15 victory over Detroit Saturday.
The other semifinal, both of which will be played on Sunday, will come down to the winners of Seattle v NOVA and ORSU v North Shore. These quarterfinals are a little more difficult to choose favorites. The Breakers won all of the games they were supposed to win this season, including Saturday’s 27-11 win over Nor Cal. They also played a decent game against conference leader ORSU, losing 24-10. NOVA isn’t quite firing on all cylinders yet either. The forwards are very solid, and an interesting battle up front should ensue. The backs haven’t found their full rhythm yet and have been relying on the expertise of veterans like Lauren Hoeck and Amber Benlian. NOVA has some exciting speed in Erica Cavanaugh and Mo McQueen, but it’ll be interesting to see whether the fluidity required for nationals will be there.
ORSU and North Shore face two different issues. For ORSU, which just barely defeated Belmont Shore 10-6 last weekend, it’s all about who travels. If Jarred Powers has his full squad in Austin, then ORSU will be in good shape behind leaders like Beckett Royce and San Juanita Moreno. For North Shore, it’ll come down to time. The team made a late-season comeback to qualify for nationals, and if it hadn’t been for that third extra seed, they would’ve missed out. North Shore finished third in the nation last year, so the potential to return to the final four is there. Whether there’s enough time to attain the goal of playing a full 80-minute game is another question.
The teams enjoy a weekend’s worth of recovery this week and fly out to Austin for game one on Oct. 29. Check back for status updates on each team.