Stanford Invite Recap: Historical 2nd Place Finish for the Thunderbirds

The past weekend, the Thunderbirds flew to California for the annual Stanford Invitational tournament. The tournament was plagued by many uncontrollable circumstances, with a last minute location change, and the heavy rain responsible for it. Additionally, a flight delay caused a third of the team to arrive to the hotels at around 4AM of the first day. In the face of these obstacles on Saturday, the team pushed through, beating UCLA, Texas and California to win the pool undefeated. Stand-out performances on this day included the speedy deep strikes of Katherine McGuire, as well as the composed handling from Brianne Wager. On handler defense, Cindy Li was crucial, causing numerous turns with her incredible shut-down D.

Sunday had the team going into quarterfinals against Carleton College. Gritty defense on under cuts and handler resets helped the Thunderbirds win with a decisive score of 13-8. This win put the team into Semi-finals against Oregon, long-time rivals of UBC. The birds went up early, taking halftime 8-5. With clean offensive spacing, and capitalizations of Oregon’s mistakes, at 12-8 it seemed like the game would be won comfortably. However, this was not the case. Little miscommunications and miscues were quickly converted into goals by the fearless shots of Oregon handlers. They scored break after break, until the teams were tied at 14s, with UBC on offense for the Universe point. Despite an early turnover in front of their endzone, UBC was able to get the disc back on defense fast. Janelle Siwa took advantage of this quick transition by launching a beauty flick huck to speedster Naomi Morcilla. Calm endzone offense got the job done, winning the game for the birds. For the first time in team history, UBC had made it to finals of the Stanford Invitational.

Finals set the birds against UCSD, a team with fast handler movement and athletic receivers. The birds got off to a slow start, going down multiple breaks. When they did manage to clean up their offense, UBC defense struggled to contain the quick movement and precise break throws of the handlers. The birds never stopped fighting throughout the whole game, but the ground lost in the beginning was not made up, and UCSD took the game with a final score of 13-7. Notable players on the second day included the solid defense of Paige Muir and Naomi Johnson (with an amazing layout grab in the final as well). Janelle Siwa’s throws were unstoppable, shredding zones and scoring goals in seconds. As always, Serena Tam, Esther Au, and Joanna Lo kept offense calm, clean and collected, while Ellen Au-Yeung and Naomi Morcilla shone with unmatchable speed and athleticism.

With this 2nd place finish, the Thunderbirds are happy but not satisfied. The tournament highlighted many things that need work, and the team is more motivated than ever to become the best they can be. As said by Naomi Morcilla: “It’s a process, but we have big, big goals.”