12 Days of College Ultimate 2024: Universe Lines

On the seventh day of Christmas Ultiworld gave to me...universe lines for each division!

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 college 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.

It’s time to unwrap some presents as we introduce the 12 Days of College Ultimate. For the next 12 days, we will be releasing one gift per day, though don’t count on getting any holiday fowl: it’s all college ultimate. From highlight videos to player chatter to a season predictions, we’ve got a little something for everyone. On the seventh day of the 12 Days of College Ultimate, we present the seven players our writers would want on the field if the game was on the line.

D-I Women’s

North Carolina’s Dawn Culton catches the game winner past Colorado’s Stacy Gaskill in the 2023 D-I College Championship final. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Grace Conerly

Dawn Culton (UNC)
Clil Phillips (Colorado)
Mika Kurahashi (UBC)
Dori Gaines (Virginia)
Macy Vollbrecht (Stanford)
Edi Lam (Tufts)
Kennedy McCarthy (Vermont)

And coached by North Carolina’s Jessie Jones, of course. The D-line player in me understood this prompt as a universe D scenario. Culton, Phillips, Kurahashi, McCarthy, and Vollbrecht are all already known stars of the division, so let me bring your attention to some often overlooked players. First, Lam is one of Tufts best defenders, if not the best. They were often given the toughest matchups on the opposing team. Their one block stat line from D-I Nationals doesn’t tell the whole story, they are one of the most positionally sound-shut down defenders in the division. And they are coming off of a championship winning season with Boston Brute Squad, where they played alongside defensive masters such as Angela Zhu and Levke Walczak. They are definitely someone I want on a universe D-line. Next, I noticed Dori Gaines during our Atlantic Coast regional final in 2023, where she got an epic layout block.1 She is a tenacious defender with great footwork and speed. She is coming off of two seasons with Virginia Rebellion, expect her to be the primary downfield threat for UVA this season. Atlantic Coast loyalty runs deep and I’d love to see Gaines on a line alongside the best in the division.

Edward Stephens

Esther Filipek (Stanford)
Emily Pozzy (Vermont)
Dawn Culton (UNC)
Quincy Booth (Georgia)
Devin Quinn (UC Santa Barbara)
Erica Birdsong (UNC)
Lia Schwartz (Tufts)

I could have gone a different direction with a couple of these, but really the goal here was just to create scoring connections. And when you have slingers like Filipek, Booth, and Schwartz on the same line as go-getters like Birdsong, Culton, and Quinn… how can you lose? Emily Pozzy is the all-arounder who will bring instant stability to what could otherwise be a volatile group. When we get to Nationals, I’m 99% sure that you’ll find your blocks leader, your goals leader, and your assists leader from among these seven.

Bridget Mizener

Dawn Culton (UNC)
Clil Phillips (Colorado)
Mika Kurahashi (UBC)
Jolie Krebs (SUNY Binghamton)
Kennedy McCarthy (Vermont)
Theresa Yu (UNC)
Edi Lam (Tufts)

Here’s how this will go: Lam and Yu will apply diamond-forming amounts of pressure in the backfield, Culton, Phillips, and Krebs will take up residence in the shorts of their marks, and between Kurahashi and McCarthy they’ll clean up the rest. After someone gets the shoulder-high block (who exactly doesn’t matter, all seven are more than capable), Culton will streak deep immediately. The handlers will play fast and get the disc to the second level, and one of the thrower-cutters (Phillips, Krebs, really anyone) will send a ball to one of the others (Culton, McCarthy, Kurahashi) deep. Fin.

Felicia Zheng

Dawn Culton (UNC)
Mika Kurahashi (UBC)
Kennedy McCarthy (Vermont)
Megan Lam (Tufts)
Mia Beeman-Weber (Carleton)
Esther Filipek (Stanford)
Quincy Booth (Georgia)

We start with Beeman-Weber catching the pull and centering the disc to Filipek. Culton and McCarthy will characteristically dominate the deep space early, presenting opportunities for Filipek to show off her powerful hucks with a shot to the end zone. If nothing immediately presents itself, Lam and Kurahashi are two of the fastest threats in the division. They will be poised to strike, shredding through any defense in seconds for an easy under. If the opponent proves more tenacious than we thought, Filipek, Beeman-Weber, and Booth could always march the disc down themselves. This handler set’s extensive throwing arsenal and quick movements could take them 70 yards easily. And if there’s somehow a turn? Booth and Culton each racked up double digit blocks at Nationals last year. Still unconvinced? Watch this flying D from Lam last season, and tell me they won’t get the disc back. This line of playmakers know how to work both sides of the disc, and I wish anyone trying to match up against them good luck.

Alex Rubin

Dawn Culton (UNC)
Devin Quinn (UC Santa Barbara)
Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)
Esther Filipek (Stanford)
Trout Weybright (Oregon)
Abbi Shilts (UC San Diego)
Kat McGuire (Michigan)

Scott Dunham

Julia Hasbrook (UC Santa Barbara)
Macy Vollbrecht (Stanford)
Dawn Culton (UNC)
Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)
Trout Weybright (Oregon)
Devin Quinn (UC Santa Barbara)
Mika Kurahashi (UBC)

Keith Raynor

Dawn Culton (UNC)
Kennedy McCarthy (Vermont)
Esther Filipek (Stanford)
Stacy Gaskill (Colorado)
Clil Phillips (Colorado)
Mika Kurahashi (UBC)
Madison Ong (UBC)

D-I Men’s

Pittsburgh’s Henry Ing throws a break backhand against Washington at the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: Kevin Leclaire – UltiPhotos.com

Jacob Cowan

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Ben Dameron (UNC)
Calvin Brown (Cal Poly SLO)
Jacques Nissen (Brown)
Calvin Stoughton (Colorado)
Leo Gordon (Brown)
Aidan Downey (Georgia)

There are many skills that the best ultimate players possess: speed, agility, disc skills, etc. Often overlooked, however, is mental fortitude. When legs get heavy and the pressure mounts, a player’s mental preparation and experience in big moments allows them to fall back on the most rehearsed skills and strategies. This line is overloaded with experience. Every player on my universe point line is coming off of a summer in which they won gold with Team USA, has played on the O-line in at least the quarterfinals of club nationals, and has played in the semifinals at college nationals. The stakes don’t get much higher than that. If that isn’t convincing enough, then good luck figuring out a space on the field in which one of these players is unable to thrive (hint: they can all do everything) or finding a weakness in one of their games to exploit (another hint: you won’t be able to).

Edward Stephens

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Dexter Clyburn (California)
Caelan McSweeney (UMass)
Ben Dameron (UNC)
Adam Miller (Georgia)
Jacques Nissen (Brown)
Anton Orme (Cal Poly SLO)

You want a line of players who are going to put the disc in the end zone?2 I’ve got you covered. We’ll keep McSweeney and Miller in the backfield to start – that frees up the five of the seven best hybrids in the country (apologies to Leo Gordon and Mica Glass – I had to make a cut somewhere) to do whatever they want. If you’re a defender squaring up against a line like this, who can you even say you’re slowing down?

Patrick Stegemoeller

Wyatt Kellman (UMass)
Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Ben Dameron (UNC)
Leo Gordon (Brown)
Jacques Nissen (Brown)
Rutledge Smith (UNC)
Declan Miller (Carleton)

I cast around for another big to pair with Ing on the line, but there is a scarcity of elite tall dudes this season and ultimately I decided to go with a collection of hybrids who can hold their own in the deep space (Dameron, Gordon, Miller) and be trusted to play shutdown D in small spaces, then move the disc with supreme cool off a turn.

Alex Rubin

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Jacques Nissen (Brown)
Dexter Clyburn (California)
Wyatt Kellman (UMass)
Ben Dameron (UNC)
Calvin Stoughton (Colorado)
Paul Krenik (Minnesota)

Keith Raynor

Henry Ing (Pittsburgh)
Ben Dameron (UNC)
Leo Gordon (Brown)
Jacques Nissen (Brown)
Rutledge Smith (UNC)
Calvin Stoughton (Colorado)
Calvin Brown (Cal Poly SLO)

D-III Women’s

Theresa Diffendal

Portland UPRoar’s Julianna Galian pulls at the 2023 D-III College Championships. Photo: Keivn Wayner – UltiPhotos.com

Keziah Wilde (Middlebury)
Charlotte Moynihan (Mt. Holyoke)
Julianna Galian (Portland)
Bella Steedly (Wellesley)
Skylar Yarter (Williams)
Zoe Costanza (Haverford/Bryn Mawr)
Gemma Munck (Whitman)

This line was made to score in any which way you want. You’ve got your power handlers who are capable of going every other, maintaining possession with patient swings, or jacking it to visionary spacing in the end zone in Middlebury’s Keziah Wilde (reigning D-III POTY) and Williams’ Skylar Yarter (2nd Team All-American, third in assists at Nationals). You’ve got your mid-field glue pieces who will burn defenders on an in cut and then utilize crafty throws to set up blistering give-gos in Portland’s Julianna Galian (2023 DPOTY runner-up and the team’s 2023 +/- leader), Haverford/Bryn Mawr’s Zoe Costanza (top five overall in both goals and assists at 2023 Natties) and Wellesley’s Bella Steedley (2022 ROTY when Wellesley were finalists). And then you’ve got your finishers, Mt. Holyoke’s Charlotte Moynihan (2023 ROTY second runner-up) and Whitman’s Gemma Munck (led Nationals in goals and goals+assists), who can get open in a campground standing shower and are going to score whether you like it or not. And far be it from me to label them as pure goal catchers; both are perfectly capable of playing dink-and-dunk from a few yards out until they find the perfect space. Starting universe point on defense? No problem. Most of these players were top of their team in blocks if not playing primarily on D-line. And don’t think you can limit any player by limiting them to a role. These players manage to shine even on deep teams like Middlebury and Carleton and flash deadly takeover ability when it’s all on the line.

Anna Browne

O-Line:

Keziah Wilde (Middlebury)
Leina Goto (St. Olaf)
Gabbie Campbell (Whitman)
Frankie Saraniti (Carleton College Eclipse)
Unni Isaken (St. Olaf)
Lucy VanNewkirk (Middlebury)
Bella Steedly (Wellesley)

D-Line:

Skylar Yarter (Williams)
Hayden Ashley (Portland)
Zoe Costanza (Haverford/Bryn Mawr)
Julianna Galian (Portland)
Rowan Dong (Carleton College Eclipse)
Gemma Munck (Whitman)
Emma Elliot (Michigan Tech)

On O-line, we’ve got Wilde and VanNewkirk from Middlebury and Goto and Isaken from St. Olaf. These four players can easily drive the offense, then when you add breakout players like Eclipse’s Saranati and Whitman’s Cambell, you have a dangerous O-line that is capable of scoring in any fashion. Don’t forget proven star Bella Steedly from Wellesley. Force a zone on them? Well all of these cutters are comfortable popping through the cup and throwing downfield. Try to take away under cuts? This handler core is more than comfortable with throwing hucks, and they know how to get handler movement going to set up power position. Forcing under? These cutters can throw continuations with ease that can easily churn up a defense. This team features extremely high output of 152 total points (56G and 96A) at 2023 Nationals. I am confident that this group could grind through the toughest defense that could be thrown at them.

On D-line, our featured duo is Hayden Ashley and Julianna Galian from Portland. While this line may be handler light (only two handlers, with Haverford/Bryn Mawr’s Costanza as a hybrid), Costanza, Galian, and Munck all had 14 or more assists at 2023 Nationals to go alongside 15 or more goals. This line certainly has scoring prowess and a propensity for endzone, but where they really shine is their hunger to get the disc on defense. At 2023 Nationals, this line had a combined 62 Ds (Yarter 11D, Ashley 6D, Costanza 12D, Galian 7D, Dong 6D, Munck 11D, Elliot 9D). This line has the ultimate IQ, awareness, and closing speed to force a D on even the best O-line. Once that turn happens, I would give any of the handlers, along with Costanza, Galian, and Munck the greenlight to pick up the disc and push quickly upfield for a breakaway score. Every single player on this line has the ability to hybrid when needed or when the field situation demands it, and they all have the knowledge to anticipate and understand when it’s necessary to flex out of their normal roles.

Now for the big question, given that there is zero crossover between my O and D lines, which line am I taking to win in a straight universe point? Well, as I prefaced in the first paragraph, several factors impact this, but I think I would take the D-line 85% of the time in this head-to-head matchup. I’d take the O-line to win in low wind conditions where the offensive team is trending up in terms of morale and momentum. However, given that to force a universe point, the D-line team has to score in the previous point, I give them a plus in morale and momentum. In the D-III Women’s Division, the players’ mindset is a massive gamechanger, and I’ll take the team that is on a one goal plus streak over the team that needs to be perfect to win.

D-III Men’s

St. Olaf Berzerkers’ Will Brandt goes for the clap catch at the 2023 D-III College Championships. Photo: Kevin Wayner – UltiPhotos.com

Bix Weissberg

Will Brandt (St. Olaf)
Oliver van Linder (Colorado College)
Collin Hill (Berry)
Malachi Raymond (Middlebury)
Ethan Lavalle (Middlebury)
Ethan Wagner (Kenyon)
Sam Papin (Missouri S&T)

When you hear soft cap go off and you’re crawling onto the line for one last hurrah, it’s not just your legs that are failing on you. Your capacity to concentrate on the little things is exhausted, and the final stretch of a game demands both mental and physical grit. So who among the division has proven not just their athletic ability but also a knack for maintaining focus and consistency when the game is at the mercy of a lazy reset or a dropped under? These seven, in addition to their exceptional skill, showed up and neatly executed for their team last May, when the stakes were highest. It’s a line that has demonstrated a strong immunity to the yips.

Calvin Ciorba

Will Brandt (St. Olaf)
Malachi Raymond (Middlebury)
Kai Kirsch (Whitman)
Collin Hill (Berry)
Ethan Lavallee (Middlebury)
Oliver Van Linder (Colorado College)
Reed Burkett (Elon)

In an ideal world, this line would start with Collin Hill catching the pull, centering it to the division’s best player Will Brandt, and finishing with a huck to the tallest cutter in D-III, Kai Kirsch. Boom. Easy. However, if that plan fails you always have Ethan Lavalle and one of the best-kept secrets in the division, Elon’s Reed Burkett, to make wide-open initiating cuts to get the disc moving. On a turn, Malachi Raymond will be the guy who earns you the block back and likely haul in the bookends. I haven’t even mentioned the reigning ROTY Oliver Van Linder who already plays like a seasoned veteran and quarterbacked Colorado College’s O-line to a championship last year. Yeah… good luck getting a break on this seven when your season is on the line.

Alex Rubin

Will Brandt (St. Olaf)
Malachi Raymond (Middlebury)
Collin Hill (Berry)
Ethan Lavallee (Middlebury)
Louis Douville Beaudoin (Middlebury)
Emmanuel Kameri (OC)
Danny Klein (Williams)


  1. I can’t find film of it but trust me, it was awesome 

  2. A previous version of this article featured eight players on my UP line, giving this statement extra muscle. On second thought, however, I think they’ll be able to score with only seven. I have cut Mica Glass. Sorry, Mica. – Edward 

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    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

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