ABC: Anyone But Carolina?

Who will step up to stop the Pleiades from making it five straight titles by 2025?

North Carolina Pleiades celebrates a third consecutive national title at the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire –

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 college ultimate season is 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.

After North Carolina’s 15-8 steamroller of a win over Colorado in the final, I asked 2023 Callahan finalist Alex Barnett if she thought the Pleiades could make it five straight titles by 2025.

Her answer, in a word: “Yes.”

And why not? UNC are already over halfway there with their newly minted threepeat after all. Even when considering that Barnett, along with Ella Juengst, Grace Conerly, and Sydney Rehder, will not be returning next year, the combination of the Triangle Ultimate pipeline and the systems the UNC coaching staff have put into place make it feel like nearly no matter who the Pleiades have leading their line, they’ll be successful.

This season, though, the inevitability of UNC has felt particularly palpable. The closest anyone came to beating the Pleiades in tournament play was in the quarterfinal round where Stanford lost by only three. Even then, the game didn’t actually feel close, with Superfly not able to really narrow the margin until late with their lone break of the game, after UNC was already up 13-10.

The Pleiades have been outstanding and imperious, and back-to-back 15-8 wins in the semis and final this season are only further proof of that. Perhaps more notably, across nine bracket games over three seasons, UNC has won by at least seven goals on six of those occasions. Only Stanford this season, and UBC and Colorado last season, have come within touching distance of beating the Pleiades in bracket play.

Taking it one step further, since their last loss at the 2020 Queen City Tune Up to Carleton, UNC has only had five games end with one or two point margins. Along the way, the Pleiades have scored some 1500-plus goals while only letting in around 500 in response over the course of a record-setting 110-plus games.1

With how dominant UNC has been these past three seasons, then, one question feels particularly pertinent: who is going to stop them, and how? While there’s not necessarily an obvious answer, here are my top six teams2 that could end the Pleiades’ run, and why they will, or won’t, be the team to do it.

Colorado Quandary

  1. Credit to Dan Juengst for pulling these stats together 

  2. in 2023 Nationals seed order 

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  1. Jenna Weiner
    Jenna Weiner

    Jenna Weiner is a Senior Staff Writer, a co-host of Ultiworld's Double Overtime podcast, and considers herself a purveyor of all levels of ultimate. She's played mostly on the west coast but you're likely to find her at the nearest ultimate game available.



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