By: Noah Robiner
The 2018 U.S. Open Club Championships are underway! Three rounds of pool play took place in the women’s division of the International Club Championships (ICCs) today in Blaine at the National Sports Center. With only the top two teams from each pool going directly into the semifinals of the championship bracket, today’s results all but locked in each team’s potential for achievement for the rest of the weekend.
The 12 teams weathered a shifting wind and light rain throughout the day, which intermittently gave way to heavy heat. Conditions Saturday promise to be much harsher, with forecasts of moderate winds and periodic downpours. The conditions, which magnified elite throwers’ skills and gave D line offenses a steady upwind to work against, will likely become defining factors for the rest of the tournament.
Both pools saw similar storylines of games going almost entirely to chalk except for one essentially inconsequential upset. Both pools house first seeds with dominant performances and a third and fourth seed set to duke it out in the final round of pool play to claim a spot in the bracket.
Fury was in top form following a disappointing fifth-place finish at WUCC earlier in the summer. Their closest game was a 15-11 win over Molly Brown which, despite solid playmaking from Lisa Pitcaithley and Jesse Shofner, was never really close after Fury’s offensive momentum opened up an early lead and held it, as it did in all of its other games.
Nightlock and Molly Brown are set to clash in the final round of pool play to determine who’ll have the chance to likely play Brute Squad in the semifinals on Sunday morning. Molly Brown enters the game as the favorite, both with a higher initial seeding and slightly stronger performances so far in the tournament.
The lone upset of the pool came in round one with the Black Widows – a team of players from the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, and the only international squad in the women’s division – losing to 12th-seeded Siege, the only women’s team at the tournament not to have played at the National Championships last year.
Pool B is essentially the same story with different names. Brute Squad separated themselves from the rest of the pack, going 3-0 on the day and essentially locking in a semifinals berth. The difference for Brute was that their wins were generally a bit sloppier and more forced than Fury’s – the squad from Boston will be looking to dial in their offense in their early rounds tomorrow to get set for the bracket.
Ozone and Scandal will meet in the last round of pool play on Saturday to determine the unenviable position of facing Fury in the semifinals on Sunday. Ozone will enter the game as the favorite after claiming bigger wins and closer losses over the same opponents on Saturday. Ozone will be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulders after a disappointing week at WUCC while Scandal will need to maintain the high expectations they’ve set for themselves after major roster losses.
The lone upset in Pool B again came in round one with the hometown team, Pop, beating Rival 15-7, marked by a 7-0 Pop run in and out of halftime, a continuation of Rival’s disappointing showing from earlier in the season at the Pro-Elite Challenge. Pop will need to find another gear tomorrow, facing the top two seeds in the pool, if they want to face anything but consolation games come Sunday morning.