Bologna Invite 2019: Tournament Preview (Women’s)

Top women's national teams to compete in Bologna this weekend!

Switzerland Women’s team at WUGC 2016

The women’s division at the Bologna Invite this weekend will see many of the top women’s senior and U24 national teams compete ahead of the European Ultimate Championship (EUC) in Hungary and World Under 24 Championship (WU24) in Germany this July. Here is what we can expect from the 11 teams headed to Bologna this weekend.

Tournament Profile

  • Date: April 6-7, 2019
  • Location: Bologna, Italy
  • Weather: High of 18 C, Wind 10-13 km/hr
  • Senior National Teams: 7
  • U24 Teams: 4
  • Format: One pool of 5 and one pool of 6. Pool winners go straight to finals.

Pool A: Great Britain, Italy, Poland, Germany U24, Switzerland U24

Pool A has the national teams of the top 3 European women’s club teams from last year. Italy’s CUSB Shout got the gold at the EUCF, Great Britain’s Iceni took silver and Poland’s Troubles took the bronze. This looks to be a very competitive pool with a lot of parity.

Italy placed 4th at the EUC in 2015 and t-13th at WUGC 2016,1 but the Italian women’s scene has been consistently improving since then. They are maintaining about half of the team from the previous national team cycle with many of those players developing a lot in the past few years including many of them winning a gold at EUCF last year with CUSB Shout. With the tournament being on their home soil, this may give them the edge in Bologna. All Europe and EuroStars player Laura Farolfi will lead the Italians on offense with her stellar play and incredible energy. 2018 Defensive player of the year runner up Anna Ceschi will be leading things on the other side of the disc. Also look for stand out performances from Claudia Acerbis, Vanessa Barzasi and Greta Melega.

Great Britain has long been a powerhouse of European women’s ultimate. They had strong finishes in the last cycle coming in 5th at EUC 2015 and t-13th at WUGC 2016. However, many players that have been synonymous with GB elite women’s talent are not on the roster this year. The departures of players like Jacqueline Verralls and Jenna Thompson raise questions on which other women will step up to fill their roles. Captain Fiona Kwan will be joined by the likes of Hannah Brew and Avril Hunter who have all made big impacts on the international stage, but unknown entities make up a lot of the rest of the roster.

Poland are looking to be stronger this year than in previous iterations. In the last cycle Poland’s main focus was on their mixed team as they prepared for the World Games in 2017. Their women’s team placed 15th at the EUC in 2015.2 However, it is still unclear how big the shift in Poland has moved towards single gender national teams. They only have a roster of 15 for Bologna Invite and are missing some key female Polish players such as Sylwia Wróblewska. However, Paulina Dul will be leading the way with Kasia Podpora and  Aleksandra Kocbuch. This Polish team does have talent and drive, but it will be difficult for a 15 person squad to challenge the likes of Italy and GB.

The two U24 teams that round out the pool are Germany U24 and Switzerland U24. Germany U24 is being captained by 2017 European Youth Player of the Year, Levke Walczak and will be looking to take their new team to the heights of last year’s U24 team who were the top ranked European Women’s team at WU24 in Australia where they finished in 6th place. Switzerland U24 did not have a women’s team at the 2018 WU24 championship but are traditionally a very strong country in the women’s division. It will be very interesting to see how these teams stack up against three of the toughest senior national teams in Europe.

Predicted Top 3: 1. Italy, 2. Germany U24, 3. Great Britain

Pool B: Switzerland, Austria, France, The Czech Republic, GB U24, Italy U24 

Pool B is a little more diverse in terms of level. Switzerland and Austria are likely to take the top two spots with Switzerland having a slight edge on Austria with their historical results. France, the Czech Republic and the U24 squads will likely be fairly even in the battle for the third place finish in the pool.

Switzerland were the silver medalists at the EUC 2015 and placed 8th at WUGC 2016. They have some strong women’s club teams in FABulous and ZUF and typically become greater than the sum of their parts when they form a national team. If there is any wind in Bologna, they will have possibly the best windy thrower in Europe in Olivia Hauser carving her way through it. They will also have great cutting from players like Florence Windler and Phoebe Shambaugh. Players like Isabelle Güttinger, Laura Niederhauser and Mandy Lobel have been making big contributions on the Swiss women’s scene and the addition of younger players in Laura Kunzelmann and Linnea Seibert will make this a very formidable team at Bologna.

Austria are another country that has multiple strong club teams coming together. This is especially true of the two big Vienna teams of Mantis and box. Mantis has been doing very well at the EUCF and WUCC; and Austria placed 13th at EUC 2015 and t-9th at the WUGC in 2016. If their roster is complete at Bologna, big contributions will likely come from Mantis star Silke Delafortie as well as Annika Wolfsteiner who played with France’s YAKA last year.

France placed 8th at EUC 2015 and t-13th at WUGC. Though France’s top club team YAKA saw some very promising results during the season last year, this came with numerous big contributions from non-French players on the team. However, the French national team will have the leadership of European Offensive Player of the Year runner-up, Aline Mondiot as well as some other great talent like Aude Richon; but there will be a large missing piece in Daniela Rodriguez. Rodriguez has just moved to Dubai and will not be playing with France this season. It is still not decided whether or not she will join the team in Hungary for the EUC, but she will be missing all preparation tournaments, including Bologna Invite. There have also been some departures from the previous national team cycle to the mixed national team this year as France is pushing to improve on their impressive 4th place finish at WUGC 2016 and push for a medal in 2020. France will be solid, but may have struggles competing with the likes of Austria and Switzerland.

The Czech Republic have been working on their women’s program a lot since the last national team cycle. Club team 3SB has made multiple trips to the EUCF and with the Czech’s prioritizing the single gender divisions a bit more this year, they look to improve on their 16th place finish at the EUC in 2015.3 They attended Windmill last year and finished 12th there but the team roster has shifted a bit since then. They will have veteran power in Zuzana Koubková who was a member of the Czech club team Hot Beaches who won the EUCF in 2010. They will also have younger talent in European Youth Player of the Year candidate Sarah Tošnerová. This team is also probably a notch below the Austrians and the Swiss but may have a shot to upset the French if things click in Bologna.

The U24 teams in this group are GB U24 and Italy U24. Both countries traditionally put a lot of effort into their youth programs. GB U24 just missed out on making the final at the recent Siege of Limerick but had some great moments there in absolutely horrible weather. It will be good to see what the team can do when there aren’t violent hail storms during every match. Italy U24 also has some very talented players and it is unknown how they will split the five players that are doing double duty between Italy and Italy U24. Both of these squads will likely challenge the French and the Czechs while likely falling short against the top opposition of the Swiss and Austrians.

Predicted top 3: 1. Switzerland, 2. Austria, 3. Italy U24

  1. Because of rain cancellations, there were four way ties for 9th and 13th place at WUGC 

  2. Poland did not have a women’s team at WUGC 2016 

  3. The Czech Republic did not bring a women’s team to WUGC 2016 

  1. Ravi Vasudevan

    Ravi Vasudevan has served as Ultiworld's European editor and a host of the podcast EuroZone. Emails about EuroZone should go to [email protected]. Ravi played for WPI in the US until 2008. He has been living and playing in Europe since 2009 and has competed at WUGC 2012, WUCC 2014 and WUCC 2018.

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