The inaugural U.S. Open Club Championships are a wrap. It was a massive event, one sure to just get even bigger next year, with tons of great teams, exciting games and memorable moments. The event’s YCC division closed out the weekend with placement games, semifinals and five amazing championship games.
After Sunday’s shake-up in the U-20 girls’ division when D.C. Rogue upset Seattle Narwhal in the quarterfinals, the first loss ever for a Seattle girls’ team at the Youth Club Championships, things got seemingly a lot more interesting as bracket play progressed. The rest of the semifinal teams were incredibly familiar. 2017 is the third consecutive year that Boston BUDA, Cincinnati Belle and the Triangle Area Warhawks have reached the semis. But having the 12-time defending champions miss out was obviously a big change.
After winning two titles in the U-20 mixed division, Caroline Tornquist, Ella Juengst, Rachel Hess and Kat Sanz all opted to play with Rogue this year – making D.C. Swing Vote’s weekend more difficult than they would have liked – and easily slotted into roles as the team’s top four playmakers. Hess is the team’s primary gunslinger, never afraid to take shots deep. Tornquist is also incredibly effective behind the disc, while Junegst is more of a hybrid player, cutting effectively downfield and filling in as a handler when needed. Sanz is the goal scorer. With the four of them leading the way, Rogue bested a strong Cincinnati team, and their 6’0” downfield target in Abby Swensen, to move onto the finals.
In the other semifinal, BUDA and the Warhawks largely traded scores throughout the first half, with neither team able to get a true edge. The Warhawks finally got a couple breaks to go up 9-7, and carried the lead through to a 15-12 win and a spot in the finals for the first time since 2009.
The first half of the final was a slugfest. A super lengthy first point had some worried it would be a slow-moving game throughout. But after the Warhawks finally secured the hold to get on the board first, the pace picked up considerably, with both teams using their well-tooled offenses to move the disc. For the Warhawks, Kate Lanier, Ellen Yu and Alyssa Ehrhardt took the reins in marching their team downfield, where they frequently connected with Dawn Culton, Karen Erhardt and Margaret Barry. For Rogue, the four playmakers mentioned above took charge. Only one other person ended up in the goal or assist column for Rogue in the final – that was one assist for Kirsten Knisley. Every other offensive statistic in the game belonged to Tornquist, Juengst, Hess or Sanz.
Early breaks were traded before the Warhawks took half up 8-5, having earned a couple breaks late in the half thanks largely to their zone defense. The teams traded points out of halftime all the way to 11-8, the offenses doing their jobs despite a couple of turnover-heavy points. As the game wore on, Rogue started to lose a little steam, and the Warhawks were able to pull away late. They earned a 15-10 win, becoming the first non-Seattle team to win a girls’ division title at YCC.