This year saw a shift in some of the usual powerhouses with some big upsets taking place across the country, including the notable rise in second-team success.
December 28, 2022 by Felix Soedira in Coverage, Recap with 0 comments
The UK Ultimate university indoor postseason is off and rolling with Regionals in the books and Nationals coming up in February. Here’s a look inside the Regionals results from around the UK!
This weekend saw a big surprise in Glasgow 1 who missed out on qualification, finishing 7th. The loss of Joel Terry (Alba) may be an explanation, but the team seemed to be missing more than that. Pool play looked like a different story, however. Glasgow 1 topped their pool, with a tight win over Edinburgh 2. This meant a quarterfinal bye and while they looked on track to a semis appearance, a rematch against Edinburgh 2 left proved them wrong and they lost on universe. The chance to qualify was over in their next game, losing to Aberdeen 1, also on universe.
Edinburgh 2 had a banner weekend, jumping from the 9th seed to 3rd seed, dispatching Glasgow 1 in the process. They played their first team twice, losing both but putting up a solid fight and only finished one place behind. Edinburgh having their first and second teams finish 2nd and 3rd only speaks to the real strength of the Ro Sham program.
Regional winners were St Andrews 1, who had a dominant tournament with their only close game in the final, which they won 9-6. Headlined by Benjamin Tang (HK U24) with experienced women such as Estelle Fuller (SCRAM), Saints stormed their way to the regional title. This is a team that look promising for Nationals.
Rounding out the last of our qualifying teams are Strathclyde 1 and Heriot-Watt 1 who took the 4th and 5th spots, respectively. The Dark Horses are on a down year, with many of their stars graduating earlier this year, including Ian Tait (Alba & GB Open Indoor) and Erina Brown (GB U24). They looked solid on Saturday topping their pool, with only a draw to Aberdeen 1, but lost heavily in their semifinal against St Andrews. Heriott Watt had to fight through the backdoor bracket, clawing a win out against Dundee 1 before handling Aberdeen 1 with ease.
This North experienced a real mix around of results compared to last year. Newcastle 1 reclaimed the regional title after a 4th place finish last year, only losing to Manchester 1 during pool play. They utilized James Blount (SMOG Rising) and Emily Atkinson (Horizon) in the backfield but their versatility made them just as dangerous downfield. They often looked for George Herbert (Newcastle Brown) in the endzone and their experience and chemistry as a team really allowed them to dictate the pace of the game. Their endzone play was quick and they often put in scores against a wall with ease. This team have already exceeded expectations, but how far will they go at Nationals
Coming back after a disappointing finish at regionals last year was Manchester 1. While the additions of Ava Grossman (SMOG) and Betony Childs (SYC) certainly helped, Halcyon took full advantage of their roster, using every player on the pitch. Similar to Newcastle, Halcyon carried a lot of versatility, making them a dangerous threat and their zone was stifling for every team at the tournament. With Morgan Garland (Manchester Ultimate) getting point blocks galore, Manchester capitalized on quick turns to punch in breaks. Their only losses came from a resurgent Durham 1 in pool play and the Pies in the final, where both games went to universe. Look for this team to be strong at Nationals as they boast one of the deepest rosters in the North.
Lancaster 1 stole the third Division 1 nationals spot, with Ollie Tanner Smith (SMOG Rising) and Alex Vero (GB U20) driving the offense for the Fish. With an almost identical roster to last year, Lancaster have really increased the depth of their squad and it shows. Their only loss on the weekend came against the Pies in semis and even that was a close game, ending 7-5. If they can continue to exploit the speed of their players, the Fish will be a hard team to slow down come Nationals.
The Division 2 spots went out to Durham 2 and Liverpool 1. Durham had a very interesting weekend. Durham 1 had a surprising loss to Lancaster 2 during pool play. This set them en route to play the Fish in their quarterfinal in what was a back-and-forth game. A universe point loss meant they headed to the backdoor bracket. Their journey still wasn’t easy, however. Newcastle 2 gave Durham a scare and they won against Liverpool 1 in the G2G2G2G to Division 1 Nationals on universe. The squad may not be super consistent but they’re a team that’s shown they’re worthy of a Nationals appearance.
Durham 2 had a big weekend. A 2nd place finish in pool play led them to a quarterfinal bye, where they squeaked out a win on universe against Lancaster 2. Unfortunately, this set them up in a semifinal against Manchester 1 who had been riding on a high from their quarterfinal victory against Liverpool. They lost both their games after this but still nabbed a Division 2 Nationals spot, a historic moment for DUF. The last spot went out to Liverpool 1 who are beginning to lose their iron grip on indoor ultimate. The Merseyside squad had to deal without the strength of Alex Hately (SMOG Rising & GB Indoor) and Alex Arkle (Manchester Ultimate) on Saturday, leaving them almost winless. Come Sunday, they could not contain a rallied-up Manchester in quarters or a scrappy DUF side in the backdoor bracket. They did grind out the G2G against Lancaster 2 to clinch the last spot to Nationals.
Yorkshire and East Midlands
It comes with no surprise that #1 seed Sheffield stole the regional title for the second year in a row. With a largely unchanged roster from last year, the team boasts perhaps the most talented roster in the country. Commanded by Helen Thompson (SMOG), Sheffield have an array of offensive plays to pull out, including their signature ho-stack. With Josh Hanham (SMOG Rising) and Jet Hilborne (GB U20) in the backfield for Sheffield, their ability to break down defenses is relentless. Often finding Lara Murray (SMOG Rising) or Rhodri Williams (Chevron Action Flash) in the endzone, Sheffield really have the top talent – but will they be able to claim the National title this time round?
Leeds 1 look even stronger than last year. Adding Emily Hill (Iceni & GB U20) to their already stacked squad only strengthens their backfield of Hannah Quinn (GB Indoor) and Benjamin Tempest (Manchester Ultimate). Much like Sheffield, Leeds had a seemingly unfair list of downfield receivers to target – Cameron Weir (GB U20) and Lorna Mayo were often found hanging out in the endzone – and often scoring in it too. Leeds looked unscathed throughout regionals and their path to the final included a 10-4 demolition of Loughborough 1 in the semis. Their final against Sheffield, a rematch from last year, was a much closer affair and speaks to the real progress of Leeds both mentally and skill-wise this year. Their only loss came in the final and it was a universe point clincher against Sheffield. This will be a team wanting a finals berth at Nationals – and they’re hungry for it.
Stealing the last Division 1 Nationals spot was Loughborough 1 who look like a weaker team compared to last year. Coping with the loss of some of their stars including Ben Phipps (Smash’D) and Akito Oyama (Deep Space), Loughborough didn’t have the easiest topping of their pool. They were challenged by Sheffield 2, only winning 7-5 before having to pull out an 8-5 win against their second team in quarters. Their winning streak didn’t last long, however, and they were crushed by Leeds in semis. Credit to Loughborough for grinding out a universe point win in the 3v4 game to nab the last Division 1 spot. Headlined by Carmelle Ellis (GB U20), Loughborough will be wanting to improve on their regionals performance come Nationals.
Nottingham 1 looked like a fairly solid team and only suffered two losses this weekend, one of which was on universe. However, their 4th place finish did involve having to squeak out a universe point win against Sheffield 2 in the quarters before falling to Sheffield 1 in semis. Sheffield 2 and Leeds 2 had excellent weekends, which speaks to the power of these programs. Both teams qualified for Division 2 Nationals, having to beat a number of first teams in the process. Having Katie Allen (Horizon) on Leeds 2 only shows that Leeds is as stacked as ever and Sheffield 2 had a number of first teams on their toes.
West Midlands and Wales
In Cardiff, we saw a university classic of Birmingham 1 vs Warwick 1 in the regional final, with UBU coming out on top on universe. With Rosie Bailey (Spice) returning for another year with UBU and Rosie Coward fresh of a Nationals appearance with Reading Ultimate, Birmingham looked like the solid team they have been for years. Although they had a tough semis and final appearance, with both going to universe, they showed us why they deserve to be at the top. Even with a number of new faces for UBU, they showed us they’re ready to take on the big names when needed. Warwick 1 had a similar path, although they were challenged by Birmingham 2 in pool play. They have a number of athletic receivers ready to make big plays, and while they couldn’t hang on in the final, they’ll want a decent finish at Nationals.
Fighting for the last Division 1 spots came the Welsh derby of Cardiff 1 and Swansea 1. Both teams came off universe point losses in the semis and were hungry for a last chance to Division 1. Another universe point thriller, it was Cardiff that emerged victorious. Emily Parkinson (GB U20) and the Swans couldn’t quite muster the victory but they did take the top spot to Division 2 Nationals. While they may not be heading off to Division 1, it may be a sign that Division 2 victory is in sight, considering how they fared at Nationals last year.
The last spot to Nationals went Birmingham 2, which is fitting the theme of exceptional second-team performances. They put up a solid fight against Warwick 1 and only losing to Cardiff 2 in the quarters 8-6. They grinded out the backdoor bracket before cementing their Nationals spot with a dominant 9-3 win against Warwick 2 in the G2G. Birmingham somehow gets stronger but we’ll see if their dominance can last at Nationals and their first team will be looking to improve on their 7th place finish.
The South East region were blessed with a one-day event and all to play for. This year, Surrey 1 stole the regional title over Sussex 1, 10-6 even without the throwing prowess of Billy Wretham (Smash’D). Both teams had easy wins in their respective pools and this sent them straight to semifinals. Surrey 1, in charge by Max Winokan, optimises a face paced offense, often isolating Zsazsa Kemp (Ladybugs) in the endzone. They speed couldn’t be stopped and they stomped over Oxford 1, 9-0, in the semis to reach the title game.
Reading 1, a university team known for being a reliable feeder program to the widely successful Reading Ultimate, finished third at regionals. Only one blowout loss against Sussex 1 kept them from a semis berth and they stayed composed to win every game after in convincing fashion. They’ll be a interesting team to watch at Division 2 Nationals
The last spot went out to Oxford 1 who had a decent showing in pool play that advanced them to semis. A huge blowout loss to Surrey 1 shows they might not be able to hang with the best but they managed to claw their way to a Division 2 nationals spot, although Surrey 2 almost got the better of them. They’ll be wanting to remain more consistent come Nationals.
A large two-pool format made for an exciting weekend with lots of chances to upset and rise at this year’s SWUXIR. Bristol 1 claimed the regional title, improving from their second-place finish last year. They relied on strong female brilliance, with the likes of Natalie Oldfield (Bristol Women) and Valle Rodriguez (Bristol Women) stealing the show all weekend. They did have some challenges, however. A close 9-6 win against Southampton 1 was their biggest scare during pool play and they did have to claw out a universe point win against Exeter 1 in the semis to reach the title game. Their final, though, was a stomping victory and they did so over regional rivals, Bath 1. For a team that have matched up against Bath for years, this win likely felt extra sweet.
Bath 1 still had a very successful weekend and although their regional final loss was not the battle they hoped for, they showed they’re more than worthy of a Division 1 Nationals appearance. The team will be led by Andrew Sweetnam (Chevron Action Flash) at Nationals and they’ll have to find a way to cope with the loss of some important women that have propelled Bath into the elite program they have become in the past few years.
Whilst Southampton 1 showed us they may not be ready to be in the regional final, their results showed they can hang with the best. Coming off a historic 3rd place finish at Men’s Indoor Nationals last year, the Skunks were inches away at times from reaching the title game. With Andrzej Zaród (Poland U20) directing the offense for Southampton, they had a brilliant weekend, qualifying for Division 1 Nationals in the process. While perhaps not at their full ability yet, count on Southampton to come back wanting a finals berth next year at SWUXIR.
The two Division 2 Nationals spots went out to Exeter 1 and Bath 2. Exeter 1, who almost claimed a spot in the final, went 5-1 in pool play before being knocked out of a finals appearance by Bristol 1. Don’t be fooled, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with at Division 2 Nationals and given how they performed last year, they’ll certainly want a repeat of that result. With Leah Atkins (GB U20) as Exeter’s powerhouse player, it’s definitely possible. Bath 2 did exceptional work to finish third in their pool and almost made a semis appearance. They crushed the backdoor bracket to take the last spot to Nationals and like many strong teams in the country, are showing us that the rise of second teams is a sign that UK ultimate is taking off.
East and London
Ilford demonstrated the beauty of ultimate – unexpected results and big surprises. The story of this weekend was UCL 2 qualifying for Division 1 Nationals, whilst UCL 1 had to settle for a Division 2 appearance – and only just. UCL 2 upset Imperial 1 in pool play on universe, giving them a quarterfinal bye against Cambridge 2. Another tight win sent them to semis in what was a rematch from pool play against Imperial 1. Their luck couldn’t hold them for any longer and they fell – on universe again. They refused to fall no more and they battered KCL 1 in the G2G to Division 1, a truly impressive performance this weekend from the Silverbacks.
UEA 1 copped the regional title after a few down years and they did so in a potent fashion. Only a draw in pool play against Imperial 1 gave them a scare, but they stay composed all the way up to the final. Expect this team to be a wildcard at Nationals.
The last spots were taken by KCL 1 and UCL 1, who were both expecting big weekends. Pool play looked as if everything was going their way, with both teams claiming victory over their respective pools. Sunday was a different story, however. KCL 1s back-to-back losses in the semis and 3vs4 led them to a fourth-place finish and a spot at Division 2 Nationals. UCL 1 fell even harder, losing in the quarterfinals to a tenacious Imperial 1 before having to toil their way to the 5th place game and G2G for the last spot. They’re clearly missing the star power in Katie Flight (Iceni) and Alex Thacker (Deep Space) but they showed they have enough in the tank to contend at Nationals.
Missing out on Nationals was Hertfordshire 1 who exhibited that they can compete with the best. A decent scoreline against UEA in the quarters is an already impressive result and they made it all the way to the G2G, where they put a strong shift against a resurgent UCL 1 team that had missed out on expectations. If they can continue to build their squad, expect them to be out of the backdoor bracket and in with the big dogs.