College Update: Smoky Mountain, Stanford Invite, FCS D-III Tune Up

Stanford and Smoky Mountain shook up D-I men's, while FCS Tune Up featured showdowns between D-III men's top teams

Cal Poly SLO sky Washington in their semifinal game at the 2023 Stanford Invite. Photo: Rodney Chen –

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!

Want your tournament listed here? Submit a recap of what happened right here.

D-I Women’s

  •  West Chester eked out a win over UConn, 4-3, at Philly Special. The small event was so impacted by wind that play was canceled Saturday, but the gusts returned Sunday. An upwind goal secured the win in the final for West Chester.
  • Wash U survived the elements and the field at Midwest Throwdown, topping Northwestern 7-6 in the final. They dominated the rest of the teams they faced during their 7-0 run to the tournament win.
  • Prior to the cancelation of the tournament’s second day, Montana State and Whitman both went undefeated through four rounds of play at Big Sky Brawl.
  • American and Delaware exchanged wins at Cherry Blossom Classic. But American got the last laugh and the tournament crown with a 9-7 scoreline in the final, making them 9-4 for the season.
  • An undefeated run for Ohio made them the winners of Huckleberry Flick Tournament. On the final accounting, nobody could get any closer to Ohio than a four-goal margin, making the Stacked Cats the clear top performer.

Looking Ahead

  • Stanford Invite will bring together many of the division’s contenders to the Bay this weekend. The Southeast (plus some friends) will head to Florida for Tally Classic.

D-I Men’s

Zoodisc Roll in the Smokies

A month after dominating in Florida, UMass Zoodisc scored a second tournament win at the Smoky Mountain Invite, taking down top seed UNC Darkside in the final. Zoodisc remain undefeated and are back in the championship conversation after a five-year hiatus. Vermont have officially broken out after an uneven Warm Up, taking home a bouquet of wins, only losing to UMass, and earning a reputation for high-paced offense and gritty defense. Colorado also a had strong showing for a fourth-place finish. Check out our reporter Edward Stephens’ Saturday impressions and stay tuned for a recap later this week.

UC Santa Cruz Notch Unlikely Stanford Invite Win

Across the country, the rest of the West faced off at a wet and muddy Stanford Invite. UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs took the win over Cal Poly SLO SLOCORE in an abbreviated final, cementing the elite status they hinted at with a solid semifinal win over Oregon Ego. A reloaded Washington looked much sharper than at last month’s Presidents’ Day Invite. Wisconsin, Cal and Oregon State played well below their ceilings – time is running out to get right if they want to make it out of Regionals. Jake Thorne had his eye on the Day 1 trends – it’s a worthwhile read before the full tournament recap comes out.

How the Season is Shaping Up

At the beginning of the season, the general thought was that there would be significant separation at the top, with Colorado and UNC both returning big cores of players with top-level club and pro experience. While both teams are still title contenders, the field has opened up, rewarding cohesive units with deep benches and a stable of playmakers. Vermont and UMass are firmly in the picture, with Oregon, Texas, and Cal Poly SLO not far behind. A slew of other challengers – Pitt, UCLA, Minnesota, Carleton, Brown, Washington, UC Santa Cruz – are just off stage and could take the spotlight before season’s end.

Elsewhere in the Division

  • WashU beat Colorado College to win Midwest Throwdown in Missouri. They trailed 8-6 before scoring on four of the game’s final five points to win on universe. Next they’ll have to manage throngs of adoring fans.
  • A pair of 11-6 wins over Penn State, including in the final, highlighted UNC Wilmington’s 5-0 record and tournament win at Fish Bowl. They’ve amassed a 14-4 record facing a rogue’s gallery of regional upset hopefuls.
  • In Brooklyn, MIT took a tournament win over Williams. The duo split results, with Williams winning the point differential thanks to an 11-6 pool play win, but MIT getting the 10-9 result in the final.
  • Lehigh cruised to a championship at Oak Creek Challenge in Frederick, Maryland. All of their wins came by five or more, including in an unusual Sunday “Championship Pool” instead of bracket.
  • An all-Ohio final pit Dayton against Miami in the Huckin in the Hills IX final, but Dayton earned the narrow 11-10 victory. FLUD went 2-0 in crunch time, also beating West Virginia 10-9.
  • Utah and Washington State both went 3-0 in Big Sky Brawl pool play. Sunday play was canceled after the fields took a beating.
  • It was a cross-windy weekend at Philly Special, and Penn State B proved the most capable in those conditions, beating no.1 seed Colby in the final 13-6.

Looking Ahead

  • Tally Classic and Huckfest will offer an extended preview of the Southeast regional battle this weekend, while much of the South Central heads to Austin for Centex Tier 2.
  • There’s plenty of tape to keep coaches and captains busy before Centex in two weeks and Easterns in early April. As the bid picture gets clearer, it looks like New England and the Southwest will feast.

D-III Women’s

Wellesley blew through the competition at No Sleep Till Brooklyn, with only Williams giving them any contest. The cold weather did not slow down the Whiptail’s intensity, with Tess Dolan burning up the endzone to receive the majority of scores in bracket play. Williams Nova played tight and intense defense, forcing their opponents to really want each point lest their offense be broken. Senior handler Lauren Lynch threw steadfast hucks even in the wind and found her downfield receivers’ hands for scores that the defense couldn’t guard. Ultiworld’s D-III editor Fiona Nugent was in attendance for bracket play and will be releasing a recap of her home tournament later this week!

In addition, this weekend saw the second of Vineland tournaments at Philly Special, with the worst weather players (hopefully) have to encounter all season. Games were won on the flip, with scores often separated by one and in the single digits. Conditions did not appear to be much better based off of the low scores reported at the Claremont Classic, where the Claremont Greenshirts beat Occidental WAC on universe point 7-6.

D-III Men’s

Four teams went 6-1 at the FCS D-III Tune Up in North Carolina. Those teams were Navy, Middlebury, Kenyon, and Oberlin who, in combination with Richmond, were responsible for the one loss they each experienced. The tournament wasn’t without its classic D-III memes and Twitter banter: Brandeis Tron was victorious over Berry with an abbreviated roster on borrowed cleats after their bags were lost by their airline, and a Richmond and Middlebury player literally kissed and made up after an on-field conversation. Keep an eye out for Michael Ball’s write up of his home tournament!

Looking Ahead in D-III

Up next? Teams are heading to High Tide for the next few weeks as the season – and weather – really starts to warm up.

  1. Fiona "Scotti" Nugent

    Fiona “Scotti” Nugent is a the D-III Women's Editor and co-host of the Laying it Out podcast. She is a graduate of Lehigh University, and now plays mixed club in New York City. You can reach her through email at [email protected].

  2. Eli Motycka
    Eli Motycka

    Eli works as a journalist for the Nashville Scene. He plays for Nashville 'Shine and the Atlanta Hustle, and coaches the Nashville Nightshade.

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