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A Puget Sound Postmen player bids for a disc at the 2013 D-III College Championships.

Photo by CBMT Creative.

Last weekend, the Puget Sound Postmen flipped the script on DIII Nation by electing to take the Division I path for the Series. The Postmen were, at worst, a top three team in the country, and possessed the ability to take down any DIII team in a head-to-head match-up. Though an admirable and worthwhile endeavor, their definite absence from Nationals will leave a hard-to-fill hole on the national scene.

Still, despite their relative dominance, Puget Sound was far from a lock to make Nationals in one of the tougher top-end regions in the country. Whether or not the Postmen participated, the Northwest would have earned just one bid to Nationals- Lewis and Clark Bacchus just missing the cut ranked 15th in the country. The Postmen will still need to participate in (and finish 2nd or better at) DIII conferences to qualify for DI regionals. Read more →

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Paideia CupFor the ninth year in a row, Paideia School will host their annual invitational tournament, Paideia Cup, in Atlanta, Georgia. Outside the rich history and elite play this tournament provides, it also goes back to the roots and ideals of ultimate, honoring the game.

“Whenever we are in a tight game, I try to remind everyone that this is exactly what we play for, these are the types of games that we give so much time and effort to play,” said Carolina Friends captain Sol Yanuck. “Two teams playing their hearts out, and still maintaining that mutual respect that is so prevalent in ultimate.”

With some of the very best high school programs in the country set to compete this weekend, it promises to be a great display of teamwork, athleticism, and spirit. Read more →

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georgia college ultimateA lot has changed for the Southeast DIII region in 2014. Last season, the struggling region couldn’t even piece together a regional tournament, as logistic and financial constraints limited teams from attending the national qualifier. This season, there are seven teams that will be in attendance — more than some other DIII regions around the country. This renewed level of commitment has turned the regional tournament into a legitimate competition that a handful of teams have a shot at winning.

Georgia College, the 2013 qualifier, is again the heavy favorite. A team that has had consistent success on the national level, Disconnected improved this season by bringing in experienced coach Jericho Barbour.

“Barbour is just as committed as the players, so this is the first time in my five years here that we have had a coach who is present at every single workout, practice, and tournament,” explained captain Charles Morris. “This outside perspective has really rejuvenated our program, and added an aspect of fundamentality to our traditional ‘huck it to our athletes’ mindset.” Read more →

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Madison Radicals fans.The buzz growing in the coastal Divisions could bother the returning teams in the Midwest Division; it could dampen spirits as legends and come-ups sign with teams in the East and West Divisions while the biggest news out of the Midwest was Brodie Smith’s unsurprising re-commitment to Wildfire. But these Midwestern teams are amped for the AUDL’s expansion, and the new kids on the block are just more reason to double down and get pumped up for the 2014 season. The Midwest Division shares one sentiment: they’re not going to let you overlook them.

Santiago Escobar, Owner and General Manager for the Minnesota Wind Chill, believes that “the Midwest remains quite strong, and perhaps has grown to be stronger than last year.”

Indeed competition in the Midwest Division will increase now that all six teams have a year of AUDL behind them, but mobility in the ranks will be minimal. The Radicals and Wildfire rivalry will emerge once more, but the Minnesota Wind Chill and the Indianapolis Alley Cats have updated rosters and eyes on the Championship. The Cincinnati Revolution and the Detroit Mechanix will continue to build their programs, but personnel losses in limited talent pools have set them back for this season. Read more →

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Role players like freshman Jesse Moore will need to play well for Occidental to take down Claremont.Little has changed in the Southwest this season. The Claremont Braineaters have established that they’re still one of the top teams in the nation while Occidental Detox continues to nip at their heels. Occidental believes they have what it takes to return to the national stage, but big-brother Claremont is confident that they can hold their neighbors at bay. With so much at stake between these familiar foes in a winner-takes-all game, expect a finals battle.

Coming off of a 7th place finish at 2013 Nationals, the Braineaters hunger for a to return to a Championship game. Since the start of the season, this young team has felt confident in their ability to play with any DIII team in the nation — a belief that was validated at DIII Warmup back in February. While they lost in quarters, they finished the tournament 7-1 racking up big wins over top-twenty opponents.

They performed admirably at Trouble In Vegas despite missing key defensive players. They took down Colorado State and UC-Irvine and almost took a win against a strong DI program. “I’m very pleased with how we played this season,” said captain Alex Cloud. “Getting third at Trouble in Vegas after playing [San Diego State] very close in the semis was a highlight of our season for sure.” Read more →

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Beau Kittredge signs with the AUDL's San Jose Spiders for 2014.Going into its third year of existence, the American Ultimate Disc League is expanding to the West Coast for the first time. Five new western teams bring the total number of teams in the league up to 17. The five teams are fighting to finish in the top two in their division; only those top two teams will qualify for the playoffs, where they’ll play against each other for the chance to represent the West at the Championship Weekend in Toronto.

Although the AUDL does have a one-year head start on Major League Ultimate overall, its Western Division teams did not get such an advantage in player acquisition, since MLU had a West Division in its inaugural 2013 campaign. In that sense, four of the AUDL expansion teams are at a disadvantage compared to their intra-city rivals – only the Salt Lake Lions were launched into a completely untapped area.

The Vancouver Riptide, Seattle Raptors, and San Francisco FlameThrowers all came in with the unfortunate reality that they would have to draw players away from their MLU counterparts in order to earn respect within their ultimate communities. The San Jose Spiders technically are coming into a new area (South Bay instead of North Bay) but really, all three California Pro teams are essentially drawing from the same pool of players. Fortunately for them, Bay Area club teams have seen unrivaled success in recent years in both the Open and Mixed divisions – there’s plenty of great players to go around.

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Vancouver Nighthawks' Kirk Savage rips a backhand.

Photo by Scobel Wiggins — UltiPhotos.com

In the inaugural MLU season, there was a great gap in results between the two top teams and the two bottom teams out west. The San Francisco Dogfish and Seattle Rainmakers – which largely drew their rosters from perennial club championship contenders Revolver and Sockeye, respectively – combined to go 16-4, while the Portland Stags and Vancouver Nighthawks were left in the dust at a combined 4-16. Aside from two San Francisco losses — one to Seattle and one to Portland — the story of the west was simply 1) Dogfish, 2) Rainmakers, 3) Everybody Else.
2014 will be nothing like that. While the Nighthawks and Stags return the majority of their 2013 rosters, last season’s frontrunners experienced massive roster turnover — for entirely different reasons — that should balance power significantly in the West. Read more →

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The Boston Whitecaps huddle up in the locker room during their Championship run in 2013.

Photo by Marshall Goff — UltiPhotos.com

The Western Conference teams may have soaked up much of the attention last season, largely due to their pool of big names from the likes of Revolver and Sockeye, but it was one of their brothers to the east that walked away with the MLU title in the end.

If the reinforced and even more dangerous rosters of the Eastern Conference have anything to say about it this year, however, the headlines might be telling some different stories—and capturing more of the fans’ fascination.

To be clear, the Whitecaps are still the favorite to win it all again. But given the reinvigorated identities of the Current, Rumble, and Spinners, the path to a repeat is not going to be an easy one.

Here’s a look at the major personnel changes the teams of the Eastern Conference made in the offseason.

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The Toronto Rush look like the team to beat again in 2014.

Photo by Sandy Canetti — UltiPhotos.com

Given their complete dominance last year, culminating in an undefeated season and a Championship, one might be tempted to view the AUDL’s Eastern Conference as the Toronto Rush and everybody else. This can be forgiven, as they’ll be returning most of their core and adding some key pieces — making a repetition of this dominance a distinct possibility. But considering the massive structural changes experienced by nearly every other team — and the inclusion of a brand new expansion team in the Montréal Royal — another perfect Rush season may not be as assured as it seems.

New York and Washington D.C. had huge offseasons, the Royal come into the league with a majority of their players having played together for years on Odyssée, and the Phoenix and Dragons will be looking to assert an even stronger presence in 2014.

This is all to say, one should expect to see a much more contentious regular season within the conference this go around.

Here’s a look at some of the big changes the teams of the East made since last July.

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An Oregon player reaches for the disc at the 2014 Stanford Invite.

Photo by William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

Northwest Challenge is not your average tournament.

From the competition to the format to the stakes, few events can be compared to what has been assembled for this weekend in Washington. And that’s exactly how the tournament wants it.

A handpicked elite field with custom built schedules makes for a complex and competitive environment that will be closer to Nationals than the typical tourney. 12 women’s teams — all highly ranked and with strong chances to make the trip to Cincinnati — will butt heads, but that’s not all, folks.

There’s a Friday night showcase game installment of what is probably college women’s best rivalry: Oregon Fugue and tournament hosts Washington Element. There’s a forum on the future of women’s Ultimate. There’s a developmental division complete with RiseUp coaching events. A bevy of sponsors and a weekend worth of Ultiworld live streams.

The NW Challenge is going to put the best of college women’s Ultimate on display for all to see.

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