College Update: Santa Barbara and Carolina Kickoff Get The Season Started

We're off and rolling!

UNC vs. NC State in the 2023 Carolina Kickoff final. Photo: Brian Whittier.

College Update, presented by Spin Ultimate, is back! Throughout the spring season, we will publish a bite-sized weekly recap of all the action across the college division. This will serve as a supplement to our standard tournament reporting and will offer a high-level look at the latest happenings and the biggest stories of the week. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at Spin Ultimate!

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D-I Men’s

BYU Undefeated; SLO, Southwest Region Triumphant

The men’s division at Santa Barbara Invite had one of the deepest fields in its history – resulting in plenty of surprises. It was an excellent debut for #12 BYU CHI: they followed a perfect doubleheader on Friday night with a 4-0 run through their pool on Saturday, and none of their games had a margin smaller than four points. Their weekend included a 13-7 win over tournament champions #7 Cal Poly-SLO SLOcore and semifinalists #15 UCLA Smaug. Jensen Wells, Chad Yorgason, and Porter Oyler looked sharp and the team is sure to rise in the Power Rankings after their first competition of the spring. They’re back in action at Florida Warm Up this coming weekend.

Cal Poly-SLO, riding the play of Anton Orme, Seamus Robinson, and the returned Calvin Brown, were the official tournament champions after defeating a surprising #23 Cal Ursa Major 13-8 in Sunday’s final. The other surprises from the weekend included a brilliant semifinal debut for the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs that included wins over multiple top-25 squads, the last-minute addition of Brandon “Lotto” Van Deusen as another star for UCLA, and a Northwest region that could not crack the semifinals. Check out Jake Thorne’s Saturday impressions. A full tournament recap will be out later this week.

Darkside Cleans Up at Home

Over on the east coast, #1 North Carolina Darkside boxed out all of the other contenders for the crown at their home tournament Carolina Kickoff. They stomped #9 NC State Alpha 15-8 in the final, and they only gave up double digits in their Friday night showcase game against Duke Brimstone. UNC Charlotte Skyrise and South Carolina Gamecocks rounded out the semifinals, signaling real contention at Atlantic Coast Regionals. A tournament recap from Brad Ward will be published soon.

Elsewhere in the Division

  • In the Southeast, Emory Juice defeated hosts Alabama Yellowhammer 11-10 at T-Town Throwdown. Central Florida Dogs of War and Mississippi State Darkhorse also had strong weekends in what will be a warm-up for Regionals in April.
  • William & Mary Merry Men eked out a win over James Madison Hellfish at Mid-Atlantic Warm-up. Semifinalists RIT Spudheads and SUNY-Binghamton made a good out-of-region first impression for the Metro East.
    Out-of-state teams Utah Valley and Colorado School of Mines Entropy were the class of New Year Fest in Arizona. Utah Valley took the final by a 13-6 score.

D-I Women’s

Carleton, BYU Off to Hot Starts

The high quality of competition at Santa Barbara Invite provided an excellent measuring stick for many of the top teams in the country. #8 Carleton Syzygy were a perfect 6-0 on the weekend, with their toughest test coming in an 11-9 win over #9 Stanford Superfly in the final. Mia Beeman-Weber is showing indications of being a takeover player for a legacy program that doesn’t appear to have dropped off after graduating a lot of talent.

#10 BYU CHI also finished their schedule without a loss – without giving up a break! – and posted a pair of impressive wins over Stanford and #5 UC Santa Barbara Burning Skirts. Kate Barry’s performance drew rave reviews, as did those of teammates Abbie Davis and Sylvia Brown. Losses to BYU and Carleton shouldn’t take any of the shine off of Stanford’s weekend. They took down a major regional rival (UCSB) in semis and have made an early case for being a strong contender come May. Take a gander at reporter Graham Gerhart’s top storylines from Saturday to tide you over until the full recap later this week.

UNC Pleiades Dominated at Kickoff (Last Week)

College update is back in action for 2023 starting this week, so we’re catching up on the Carolina Kickoff women’s division action from a week ago. #1 North Carolina Pleaides was more dominant than the men’s team was this weekend: they took down #22  NC State in the final 14-2 and allowed just 12 total goals in 6 games. Don’t be fooled, though: NC State is a good team. UNC is just that good.

Shout out to an impressive performance from the Triangle Tourists, a group of NC high schoolers who put up a tournament-best five goals on UNC and finished third with a win over South Carolina.

Elsewhere in the Division

  • #13 Northeastern Valkyries flew south for Florida Winter Classic and were the only non-Florida team in attendance. It wasn’t pretty for the peninsula, as Northeastern blew through the round robin and the 1st place game, almost entirely by huge margins. They beat FSU 12-1 in the final.
  • #14 Virginia Hydra opened their season with a nice run at home, defeating a promising Ohio State Fever side 12-7 to cap off an undefeated Winta Binta Vinta.
  • In early Southeast action at T-Town Throwdown, Georgia Tech Wreck survived a scare from UAH in the first round before proceeding to obliterate the competition for the rest of the weekend.
  • Denver Hype got off to a great start with a tournament win over the field at New Year Fest in Arizona.

D-III

There weren’t many D-III teams in action this weekend, but Richmond and Carleton CHOP took the field at Kickoff and even got two head-to-head matchups in! Richmond came away victorious, 15-7 and 10-8, in the two games, their only wins on the weekend. CHOP went winless.

Stay tuned for D-III Power Rankings, coming soon!

Looking Ahead

  • The first weekend of February will see many of the top men’s teams from the eastern half of the United States make their debuts at Florida Warm-Up. Ultiworld will be livestreaming games. Keep an eye out for the streaming schedule and reasons to watch in this week’s tournament preview.
  • Stanford Open will feature a number of teams in both divisions vying for a coveted spot in the Stanford Invite.
  • There should be plenty of South Central action from both divisions at Just Plain Chilly in Norman, Oklahoma – a first glance at what is likely to be a bumptious Regionals later this year.
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