12 Days of College Ultimate: Universe Lines

Our writers' preseason choices for the best players from D-I and D-III!

Colorado's Stacy Gaskill flexes at the 2022 D-I College Championships.
Colorado’s Stacy Gaskill flexes at the 2022 D-I College Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 college ultimate season are presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

It’s time to unwrap some presents as we introduce the 12 Days of College Ultimate. Through December 23rd, we will be releasing one gift per day, though don’t count on getting any partridges in pear trees: it’s all college ultimate. From highlight videos to player chatter to a giant bracket, we’ve got a little something for everyone. On Day 7 of the 12 Days of College Ultimate, we asked our staff for their preseason choices for the seven players they could put on a line together on universe point.

D-I Women’s

Alex Rubin

Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)
Abby Hecko (Washington)
Abbi Shilts (UC San Diego)
Julia Hasbrook (UC Santa Barbara)
​​Mika Kurahashi (British Columbia)
Alyssa Ehrhardt (Carleton)
Hazel Ostrowski (Tufts)

This universe point is going to be so easy. Stacy Gaskill is going to pin the opponent in the back of the end zone with a monster pull. Once we get a turn, I trust Abby Hecko, Hazel Ostrowski, and Alyssa Ehrhardt to run a tight offense…or we could just have Julia Hasbrook bomb a flick to Abby Shilts. And let’s just throw in a club Breakout Player and U24 pick ​​Mika Kurahashi in case anything goes awry.

Edward Stephens

Lylah Bannister (Vermont)
Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)
Abby Hecko (Washington)
Abbi Shilts (UC San Diego)
Tori Gray (Carleton)
Clil Phillips (Colorado)
Dawn Culton (North Carolina)

People who are viewing Tori Gray as a defense-only player are missing the picture. Yes, she made her mark at 2021 Nationals as an ace defender, but she’s an all-around dynamo who has a total take-charge attitude. Perfect for big moments in the college game. And I admit that I could be a year early on this one, but Lylah Bannister could be the playmaker in the women’s division as soon as right now. Her bids will leave you breathless. Can’t wait for her to show out for a full spring season.

Jenna Weiner

Abbi Shilts (UC San Diego)
Alex Barnett (North Carolina)
Dawn Culton (North Carolina)
Devin Quinn (UC Santa Barbara)
Mia Beeman-Weber (Carleton)
Mika Kurahashi (British Columbia)
Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)

This universe point line has it all. Veteran nous and balanced throwing prowess? Barnett and Gaskill have that covered. Reliable big play potential each and every point? Well, Shilts and Kurahashi are both human highlight reels. Need a couple of potent goal-scoring threats? Look no further than Quinn and Beeman-Weber. Add the reigning Callahan winner and block-getting powerhouse Culton, and this line has everything they need to get the job done when it matters most.

Keith Raynor

Kennedy McCarthy (Vermont)
Dawn Culton (North Carolina)
Alex Barnett (North Carolina)
Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)
Clil Phillips (Colorado)
Abby Hecko (Washington)
Madison Ong (British Columbia)

This group is absurdly explosive, with a bunch of players who could spark it when called upon. There’s nobody better than Alex Barnett to laser guide a payload of this size with precision. Ong can operate in the backfield to help key the speedy and athletic offense. There’s two-way capacity plenty, including the division’s best puller.

Theresa Diffendal

Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)
Alex Barnett (North Carolina)
Dawn Culton (North Carolina)
Hazel Ostrowski (Tufts)
Abby Hecko (Washington)
Julia Hasbrook (UC Santa Barbara)
Clil Phillips (Colorado)

With Stacy Gaskill and Dawn Culton, it doesn’t matter if this line starts universe point on defense, they’re getting the disc back. We’ve seen Gaskill’s monster pulls lead her team to victory on the back of a 10-0 run, how hard can a 1-0 run be in comparison? Her pulls trap the opposition in the end zone and dial up the perfect opportunity for a callahan from none other than the reigning Callahan winner Dawn Culton, whose speed and ability to lay out at a moment’s notice put her at the top of the division on either side of the disc.

And if this line starts on offense, you want a player who’s nearly guaranteed not to turn the disc over. Though sometimes overshadowed by the highlight reel play of Culton and Ella Juengst, it was Alex Barnett who stepped into the center handler role vacated by Bridget Mizener and steadily delivered for UNC time and again on Pleiades’ drive to a college title. She was top ten in both goals and assists at College Nationals 2022, including scoring at least six combined goals and assists in every one of UNC’s three bracket games.

D-I Men’s

Alex Rubin

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Jaques Nissen (Brown)
Declan Kervick (Vermont)
Simon Covington (Stanford)
Chad Yorgason (BYU)
Paul Krenik (Minnesota)
Danny Landesman (Colorado)

Y’all already know about the Ings and Nissens of this list, so I’ll highlight the names who might raise an eyebrow.

While the prompt said we had to consider offense and defense, it said nothing about the day of the week. Assuming this point isn’t happening on a Sunday, adding Chad Yorgason is a no brainer. A third year player at BYU, he finished with the fourth highest block total in the notoriously pro-offense AUDL as a rookie last season with the Salt Lake Shred. One of the first players to cross over to the offense when needed, Yorgason has elite two-way ability that is hard to find in the college scene.

Similarly, Simon Covington operates out of the spotlight over at Stanford, but is not too far removed from a starting spot on Philadelphia AMP’s D-line. For a shorthanded Bloodthirsty squad, Covington is asked to do a lot, but in a one point situation, I trust their positional person defense and strong pulling to get the job done.

Edward Stephens

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Calvin Stoughton (Colorado)
Leo Gordon (Brown)
Seamus Robinson (Cal Poly SLO)
Josh Singleton (North Carolina)
Nate Little (Temple)
John Clyde (Texas)

Josh Singleton is already a two-time National champion and a U24 selection, and he’s only a sophomore. Big throws, great field sense, defense getting more technical by the minute, and the size is a bonus. Brown admitted to building their defensive approach in the 2022 final around not letting Singleton beat them. Not sure we’ll get the chance to see Nate Little on a big stage in college, but Little is the definition of a do-it-all keystone player. He can sky anyone. You can run an offense through him every other pass. Great bids. Great vision. Slam dunk choice if he played for a bigger program.

Keith Raynor

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Jacques Nissen (Brown)
Ben Dameron (North Carolina)
Riley Kirkman-Davis (UCLA)
Danny Landesman (Colorado)
Calvin Stoughton (Colorado)
Rutledge Smith (North Carolina)

Ing is my early POTY pick and I’ve fallen in love with his do it all game, but this is a skill, balanced line that has proven it through college and club. Nissen is taking the centering pass, but from there, it is off to the races with a line of patient hybrids. Rutledge Smith All-American szn.

Patrick Stegemoeller

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Declan Kervick (Vermont)
Danny Landesman (Colorado)
Jacques Nissen (Brown)
Leo Gordon (Brown)
Ben Dameron (North Carolina)
Aidan Downey (Georgia)

For a universe line, I generally want people who can play both ways and are nails with the disc under pressure. If you can’t be trusted to hit tight break windows with the defense flying around like lunatics, hard to trust you on a uni-line. Landesman, Dameron, and Gordon are ideal versatile grinders here, Nissen and Downey have the throwing chops, and the Ing-Kervick pairing gives us the big play potential to grab a block out of nothing.

Theresa Diffendal

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Jaques Nissen (Brown)
Leo Gordan (Brown)
Nate Little (Temple)
Calvin Stoughton (Colorado)
Aidan Downey (Georgia)
Ben Dameron (North Carolina)

Arguably the most athletically dominant player in the D-I men’s division right now, after seeing Henry Ing at Classic City Classic, Edward Stephens noted, “he is so good in the air that it is a legitimate system play in the red zone for En Sabah Nur to put a throw up high near him.” The ability to outjump anyone on the field is a must-have for universe point, and that’s not even getting into his forehand hucks or defensive play. We also just saw Calvin Stoughton sky Ultiworld’s POTY en route to a club title (not to mention this defensive play that’s worthy of a Block of the Year nod), surely dunking on college students is child’s play in comparison.

D-III Men’s

Michael Ball

Sammy Roberts (Oklahoma Christian)
Collin Hill (Berry)
Luke Bleers (St. Olaf)
Will Brandt (St. Olaf)
Jacob Cowan (Grinnell)
Lincoln Grench (Colorado College)
Max Hanscom (Middlebury)

I really love the balance on this line, on both sides of the disc. Roberts and Hill are fantastic handler defenders, Bleers is maybe the best 1-v-1 defender in the division this year, and the rest of the line, particularly Grench, provides tremendous size downfield. On offense, Roberts has plenty of big targets to shoot the disc to, Hill provides a reliable and consistent reset, Brandt and Cowan are excellent hybrids who are comfortable becoming handlers against a zone, and Hanscom is an incredible finisher in the red zone.

D-III Women’s

Keith Raynor

Claire Babbott-Bryan (Middlebury)
Keziah Wilde (Middlebury)
Kamryn You Mak (Middlebury)
Julia Hanly (Portland)
Tess Dolan (Wellesley)
Gigi Downey (Mount Holyoke)
Sandy Wu (Rice)

It is no wonder Middlebury has become so dominant — ace defender Maddy Lander is also a candidate here — but my universe line will benefit from the Prankster chemistry of the decorated trio. Hanly balled out at Nationals, showing great toughness to add to a skilled line. Downey might be the only foil to another Babbott-Bryan POTY award, an experienced balanced queen on the chessboard. Dolan was a critical part of Wellesley’s unbelievable run, bringing more two-way excellence. Reigning Breakout Player of the Year Sandy Wu offers more monstrous defense and the ability to spark a quick counter.

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