Flywheel headed down to Axton, Virginia once again to compete in the team’s final tournament before spring break. The team’s main focus for the entire weekend was strictly man defense, and we never used our zone defense a single time. This presented a unique challenge for us to push our person defense to the next level, and teach us to not rely on running zones to generate our defensive momentum.
Flywheel started off the day with a game against a shorthanded Princeton. We quickly racked up points and took half 8-1. The game ended with a score from Boyd to Boyd (Emma to Mary, that is) to make the final score 15-4.
Our game against MIT started with a crazy catch on the face by Gina Sancricca. After beautifully chilly zone offense by Nina “Ninja” Janjic and Talia Barth, Flywheel took half 8-4. While Flywheel was able to have some successful person-on-person matchups, we hadn’t reached the level of team shut-down D that we were aiming for. Despite this, we remained focused and ran away with the win 10-6.
The afternoon brought an additional challenge of wind as we entered our final game of the day against University of North Carolina (UNC). We knew to expect their strategy of hucking and catching it deep, but were not able to consistently shut these looks down. At half, Flywheel was trailing 6-8. The second half brought about the highlight of the game:T-Lo’s huck fake that made her mark jump and scream. From there on, Flywheel traded points with UNC, but it wasn’t enough to bring us out on top. The final score was 9-13 UNC.
Flywheel brought new and refreshed enthusiasm to Sunday’s games, with spring break close on the horizon. The first game against James Madison University (JMU) was full of offensive and defensive fire from Flywheel. Our calm and collected zone offense, led again once again by “Chilly Hands” Talia and Ninja, allowed us to easily rip through JMU’s zone. On defense, Flywheel consistently contested all under cuts, deep throws, and everything in between. Resulting in a final score of 14-9.
After a quick break for hydration, snacking, and hugs from our team moms, Jenny Denney Lawson and Xanthe “Muffin Mom” Hopp, we started our second game of the day against Maryland. Our person defense was stifling at times, forcing many late-stall throws. After a parade of break points and an “I was right! Breaks do come in 7s!” quote by our very own Lizzy “Benny” Benedetto, Flywheel took half against the Helpful Corn 8-1.
Maryland’s go-to look was striking upline. While Flywheel stopped many of these cuts, there were still far too many that got off throughout the game. After various threats from Ben and Chip of administering punishments of burpees for open strike cuts, Flywheel tightened up a bit more.
At this point in the day, the wind picked up significantly, spurring more zone defense from our competitors. Flywheel, however, stuck tight to our goal of only person defense for the entire tournament, no matter how much the wind gusted. We managed to pull out the win, 15-6, and advanced to the semifinals.
Flywheel started on defense for the semifinals game against University of Virginia. While we were ready to defend the upline strike cuts, we were not prepared for the go-to break cut by UVA’s cutters and inside-out throws by their handlers. Flywheel took this as a chance to practice our break cut defense, because Joe (coaching at a distance from Michigan) had posed a challenge to Flywheel that the first person who got a layout D would receive a gear item on him. With the defensive focus dialed in, Flywheel took the game to half at 8-6.
Flywheel and UVA continued to trade points throughout the second half, with UVA continuing to beat Flywheelers with their break cuts. Emma Boyd turned up the intensity and managed to get the team’s swag-winning layout D, but the momentum wasn’t enough to pull out the win. After a handful of red zone attempts, Virginia barely came out on top with a final score of 10-12.
The weekend concluded with a well deserved rematch against UNC. This time, Flywheel was ready to contest their deep throws and shut down their unders with stifling person defense. We quickly took the game to half at 8-2, and only allowed UNC to get off one additional second-half point for a final score of 15-3.
Despite seeing several zone looks from our competitors, and the ever changing winds, Flywheel stuck true to it’s original goal of only playing man defense for the entirety of the tournament.