Has the rise of young players in club advanced the scene of women's ultimate in the UK?
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!
Up in Edinburgh, a one-day format determined the spots to Nationals. A twelve-team tournament meant that the pool winners would face off in the regional final. Looking as strong as last year, St Andrews 1 stormed the rest of the competition. No team scored more than four points against them. With Katie Trim (SCRAM) hot off a WUCC appearance this summer, there’s no doubt that she and the rest of the Saints’ expertise and experience will send them far at Nationals.
Glasgow 1 wrapped up their pool, perhaps even easier than St Andrews, as no team managed to put up more than two points against them. Unfortunately, their dominance didn’t last long and they fell hard in the regional final, 12-4. If Farflung can tighten up before Nationals, they can show they’re ready to hang with the best.
The last two Division 1 Nationals spots went to Edinburgh 1 and Dundee 1, who finished second and third in pool A, respectively. Headlined by Zoë Todd (SCRAM & Canada U24), Ro Sham showed that beating the same team twice is a tough ride. After narrowly winning against Dundee in pool play, they found themselves in the 3vs4 against them once again. But Ro Sham showed true resilience and they scraped out a win on universe to clutch third place. Dundee 1 had a harder time in pool play, with closer games, but they showed they have the potential to make it on the big stage. Their only losses were to Edinburgh and St Andrews and if they can remain consistent, they could find themselves in the bracket at Nationals.
Edinburgh 2 had an incredibly successful weekend. A third-place finish in pool play meant they had already broken seed and they had punched in some convincing wins along with this. An unfortunate fate meant they faced their firsts in the 4vs5, essentially a G2G2G2G to Division 1. While the power of their first team was too much, they did avenge a pool play loss to Stirling 1 in their last game to steal the top spot to Division 2 Nationals. Given how they performed this weekend, they could likely upset a number of teams at Nationals.
In perhaps the most shocking result, #1 seed Strathclyde 1 looked like they were on the cusp of being knocked out of contention for Nationals. In pool play, they dropped a number of games, losing to the likes of Edinburgh 2, Stirling 1 and Glasgow 1 to plummet them to the eighth seed. A secure win against Glasgow 2 confirmed their ticket to Bristol, but they had to grind out a universe point win against St Andrews 2 to take seventh place. It’s clear that the team is struggling with some losses and they’ll need to tighten up if they want to make a statement at Nationals.
Another shift in the results from last year showed the changing strengths of teams in the North.
This year, Leeds 1 finally took the reign over regional rival, Sheffield 1. With Emily Hill (Iceni & GB U20) handling, it opened up a lot of versatility in the rest of the team and allowed Hannah Quinn (GB Indoor) to tear it up downfield. Their pool play results exhibited their power as a top team and they only really looked challenged in their semi-final and final. Leeds 1 had a harder time containing Nottingham 1‘s speed and zone in their semi-final. Nottingham’s defense was smart and heads up and Leeds found themselves resetting the disc more than they would’ve liked. Leeds looked rattled early in the final against Sheffield 1, but a midway surge of energy meant they could ride the wave and clutch the Northern regional title.
Sheffield 1 may have just missed out on a clean sweep of regional titles but they asserted their supremacy throughout the Wildcats Arena nonetheless. Playing without Helen Thompson (SMOG) this weekend meant that greater responsibility was placed on Samantha Choo (SMOG) and Lara Murray (SMOG Rising). While Sheffield is undoubtedly a powerhouse team, no Helen Thompson present seemed to show expose Sheffield’s reliance on her to move the disc. A close win against Lancaster 1 was the first sign that the team were struggling to keep up with the pace of the Fish. An even closer win against a surprise showing from York 1 in quarters showed that Sheffield may not be the invincible force they seem to be. A dominant 9-4 win over Newcastle 1 in the semifinals, however, meant they were back for another final. While they did go up early in the game against Leeds, Lara Murray got injured and Sheffield looked exhausted by their regional opponents. If Murray and Thompson return for Nationals, expect them to reach the podium once again.
Nottingham 1 looked like an extremely strong team on the weekend and they played with pace and energy. They had a tight win over Loughborough 1 in pool play to take the top spot and earn them a bye into quarterfinals. A confident win over Durham 1, sent them to a semis rematch from last year against Leeds, where they put up an incredible performance. Although they couldn’t hang on, their energy never stopped and they clutched third place to end their tournament with a brilliant 7-1 record.
Newcastle 1 returned to the semi-finals of regionals for the first time since 2019. Emily Atkinson (Horizon) continues to run the show for the Pies, keeping Newcastle’s offense in flow. The former SMOG player was every other pass on the disc and defenses couldn’t find a way to slow her down. But the Pies aren’t a one-woman team. Lucy Church made for reliable receptions in the endzone and Newcastle found themselves winning their pool and through to quarters. A confident win against Loughborough 1 sent them to the semifinals and while they couldn’t bag themselves the win against Sheffield 1, they put up a solid fight before falling short to Nottingham to take fourth. If they can tighten the screws, Newcastle could easily advance to the bracket at Nationals.
Finishing fifth and qualifying for Division 1 Nationals was newcomer Lancaster 1 who surprised many in Wildcats Arena. After a successful season last year at mixed, Fish women have been building to such a moment. Orchestrated by Alex Vero (GB U20), Lancaster 1 did damage at regionals this year. They stole second in their pool, giving both Sheffield a tough game and beating Manchester 1 in the process. Their quarterfinal, against Leeds, shows they’re still building as a team, but they pulled out wins against both Durham 1 and Loughborough 1 to secure their spot to Nationals. Loughborough 1 couldn’t match the fourth-place finish of last year, but they are without Sophie Wong (GB Indoor) to make the big plays needed. While they may not have finished where they liked, Loughborough are known to be an athletic side, and some of their results certainly showed. They’ll be a very dangerous low seed at Nationals.
York 1 was another team that turned heads this weekend and rightly so. Only Leeds 1 kept York from winning the top spot in their pool. In an unfortunate twist of fate, a quarterfinal against Sheffield 1 was in sight. York tirelessly denied to give up and athletic play by Gabriela Millward (Netherlands U17) kept them close. A last-point turnover by Sheffield almost let York come within one, but they couldn’t quite punch it in and they lost 8-6. A valiant effort, their momentum dwindled before they came back to win their last game on universe against Durham 1 to take the top spot for Division 2 Nationals. Durham 1 are heading back to Division 2 Nationals after a tough pool that saw them draw against Loughborough 2. With no Akane Ota (Nemesis) to control the offense for DUF, they showed they could still ride it out, making the top 8.
The final two spots went out to Manchester 1 and Loughborough 2. With a new squad this year, Manchester didn’t quite have the firepower they did last regionals. With Chloe O’Loughlin (Spice) out with injury, Caitlin Kyle (Horizon) and Isabel Shand took on more prominent roles on offense. They had a tough pool, losing to both Sheffield 1 and Lancaster 1, but never put up less than a fight, including a decisive foot block by Shand against Sheffield. Grinding out the backdoor bracket, they showed they have the resilience to battle it out. If Ava Grossman (SMOG) and Betony Childs (SYC) return for Nationals, they’ll be a real threat in Bristol. Loughborough 2 return to Division 2 Nationals in a convincing performance. They drew with Durham 1 before coming all the way back from the 15th seed to reach the final spot to Nationals.
In Coventry, we saw the first instance of no second teams qualifying for Nationals and perhaps the strength of this region was just too much.
Without sounding like a broken record, it’s hard to ignore Birmingham 1‘s strength that led them to a first-place finish at regionals. With Rosie Bailey (Spice) and Rosie Coward (Reading) commanding the offense, UBU looked fast and they looked smart. Only their semi-final against Exeter 1 and their final against Bristol 1 tested the girls in red but they came out victorious nonetheless. Given their performance, expect them to return to the quarterfinals once more.
Looking equally as strong was Bristol 1. Almost demolishing the entirety of their games, with the exception of Bath 1 in pool play and their final, Bristol look like they could be headed back to the semifinals come Nationals. With Bristol Women’s Natalie Oldfield and Valle Rodriguez racking up elite club experience at WUCC, it’s no surprise they were a point away from winning the regional title for the second year in a row.
Exeter 1 are another side looking strong this year. Only a close fight with Birmingham kept them out of the final. Like Bristol, they stomped on their rest of their competition, including a 13-2 win against Swansea 1 in pool play. A confident win in their 3vs4 meant they finished regionals with a 5-1 record. With Leah Atkins (GB U20) charging the offense for Uriel, they could break into the top 8 at Nationals after falling just short of the bracket last year. Meanwhile, Bath 1 broke seed to finish fourth after coming ninth last year. They looked solid all weekend and only a blowout loss to finalists Bristol 1 gave them a blemish on their record. Bath will be looking to Heather Gibson (Spice) to make the big plays and keep the offense in momentum. Known for a strong, athletic side, can they show the rest of Division 1 that they’re ready to hang with the best?
The final Division 1 spot went out to Warwick 1 who fell in the quarters before rallying back to avenge a pool play loss over Southampton 1 to take fifth place. The Bears look promising but will need a bit more fire power if they want to compete with the best. Nonetheless, for a team that won Division 2 last year, it shows they might just be ready to take on the big dogs. Southampton 1 took sixth after being defeated by the Bears, knocking them into the top spot to Division 2. A win in pool D meant an automatic bye to quarterfinals but the powers of Bath were too much and they got sent to the 5-8 bracket. Bournemouth 1 women found themselves in the top 8 after a third place finish in pool play and a win in their prequarter. While they finished seventh, they pushed Birmingham 1 in their quarter and finished strong, qualifying for Division 2.
The last two spots went to Swansea 1 and Plymouth 1. Emily Parkinson (GB U20) was every other for Swansea’s offense and she was relied upon to keep the disc moving. It was enough to get them to quarterfinals before the Swans seemed exhausted by top seed Bristol 1. Grinding out a win late in the 5-8 bracket meant they stole 8th place and safely into Division 2. Plymouth 1 really had to work the backdoor bracket, after being knocked out in prequarters by Bournemouth 1. They showed why they deserved to make it to Nationals, with strong wins over Birmingham 2 and Exeter 2 to win the plate final.
UCL 1 won EUWIR for the second time in a row and it was no doubt that the help of Katie Flight (Iceni & GB Indoor) propelled the silverbacks to victory. UCL 1 had no real close games and the only thing stopping their seconds from getting ahead of them this time was when they played each other in an all UCL quarterfinal. With a second place finish last year and if Katie Flight returns, UCL might just be headed back to the podium. KCL 1 looked almost as dominant, only losing out in the regional final. A close fight against Surrey 1 almost send them to a quarterfinal against Imperial 1, but they managed to maintain composure and make it all the way to the final.
Cambridge 1 looked like they could ruin a team’s weekend at Nationals with their performance at EUWIR. Cambridge went 6-1 on the weekend, finishing third. They broke seed to top their pool, and after falling in semis to KCL 1, they went back to beat Imperial for the second time, but on universe point. Imperial 1 dropping seed in pool play put them en route to play UCL 1 in semis. After a tough loss to their rival Londoners, they couldn’t quite hang on in their 3vs4 either and they fell to KCL.
Surrey 1 rounded out the Division 1 spots after an unfortunate loss to Imperial 1 in quarters. No disappointment here, however, Surrey won their pool and bounced back after a quarterfinal loss to win their last two games in convincing fashion to take fifth. Considering their 7th place finish at Nationals last year, they’ll be a dangerous low seed in February. With atheltic plays from Zsazsa Kemp sure to keep Surrey rallied up, they’ll be hunting for an upset or two at Nationals.
The top spot for Division 2 was earnt by Chichester 1 who had an unfortunate time in pool play. Initially seeded fourth, they dropped to tenth place by the end of Saturday. Sneaking into the quarterfinals after knocking out Reading 1, they simply couldn’t hang on and found themselves fighting for Division 1. After making it to the game-to-go, they couldn’t contain Surrey and finished in sixth. UEA 1 took seventh after beating seed in pool play to finish the Saturday in 6th seed. A bagel win over Cambridge 2 sent them to the quarters where they faced Cambridge 1 in which they struggled to put more than a point on the board. Falling to Chichester 1 in the 6vs7 meant they were out of contention for Division 1 but had secured a spot in Division 2.
UCL 2 could not find the three-peat in finishing higher than their first team. Dropping seed in pool play to a strong KCL side meant they were put on track to face UCL 1 in quarters. With a tiring loss, they dropped both their games after that, perhaps content in the safety of qualifying for either Nationals. The last spot went to Oxford 1 who had a must-win situation after falling in prequarters. The quest was no bother as they won their last two games with a points difference of +11 and a poised finish to EUWIR.