Queen City Tune Up 2024: Tournament Recap (Women’s Division)

Queen City 2024 had everything you expect from a February tournament on the east coast.

Mia Beeman-Weber pulls for Carleton Syzygy at the 2023 Queen City Tune Up. Photo: Katie Cooper – UltiPhotos.com

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Queen City 2024 had everything you expect from a February tournament on the east coast: wind, rain, shortened rounds, muddy fields, and upended schedules. Through all that, #1 UNC Pleiades and #5 Carleton Syzygy established themselves as championship contenders, while #3 Vermont Ruckus showed that they need a little more time to grow. #11 Tufts EWO proved that, despite personnel losses, they are still a nationally competitive team. The lack of placement games made it hard to sort through the depth in the division, but there were some important signs of what may come to pass.

Competition Schedule and Results

Pleiades: Still Streaking

With a typically thorough performance, UNC beat Carleton in the final 15-11. With big losses in O-line personnel, such as Alex Barnett and Ella Juengst, from last year, there were question marks surrounding how Pleiades would fare. The answer: extremely well. UNC started the game on offense and, in a point that set the tone for the entire game, they initiated under to Erica Birdsong, and worked through cutters for an easy hold. The D-line immediately matched that gear next point when freshman Bella Russell launched a deep pull and Carleton had a first throw miscue. Russell then picked up and threw a perfect flick huck to grad student, Macy Hudson. Less than five minutes in and it was already 2-0. Pleiades were off to the races.

Carleton’s offense found its stride over the next few points thanks to strong play from Naomi Fina, Chagall Gelfand, and Shanti Chier. With so many confident handlers, it’s no surprise that Syzygy played some of the most disciplined and fundamentally sound vertical stack offense all weekend. They typically initiated under to Fina or Aria Kischner and then flow cutter to cutter. If they ran into trouble, Chier, Gelfand, and Mia Beeman-Weber were there to provide reliable resets. I especially want to give credit to Chier and Gelfand, who have both stepped into the O-line handler roles vacated by Alyssa Ehrhardt and Emma Chin and performed remarkably well, both throwing multiple beautiful hucks in the wind. 

Pleiades, on the other hand, are practicing “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” strategy, continuing with their split stack initiation plays and three person endzone set from the recent run of championships. That red zone efficiency that they’ve built their reputation on? It hasn’t changed a bit. Emily Przykucki, Birdsong, Allison Reilly, Theresa Yu, and Caroline Spencer took turns driving the offense into the end zone, more often than not in one possession.

It took a few points of trading holds, but UNC notched another pair of breaks before the half. Russell got a block on an upline and launched a flick huck to Sarah Combs, who outread the Carleton defender for the score. Izi Myers-Miller knocked away a floaty pass, Russell picked up and hucked again, this time to Dawn Culton. At 7-3, the game was approaching out-of-reach territory for Carleton, who to their credit, did a great job adapting and trying new defensive looks in the second half. They were able to notch one break in the second half thanks to great defense from Gray and Beeman-Weber. But one break was not enough to sink Pleiades, who remained resolute in their commitment to swing the disc and play through all their players.

One of the questions about this year’s edition of Pleiades was how they would adapt to life without star handler Barnett, the 2023 Player of the Year. If Queen City is any indication, there are no worries on that front. Przykucki stepped into the center O-line handler role and played phenomenally. She threw Pleiades out of many tight situations with her ability to break the mark and place hucks well.

Another question was how UNC would organize their offensive and defensive line personnel without Juengst, Sydney Rehder, and Alex Evans.1 Would Dawn Culton move to offense? Would they abandon the O-line and D-line groupings completely? The answers: no and no. New additions to the O-line, Lisa Wei and Katie Fradenburg, filled space, made difficult catches, and scored goals with the frequency of seasoned veterans. Culton continues to lead the D-line with Myers-Miller, Combs, and Jessica Wu remaining there from last season, and Russell joining to fill the primary handler role.

The game ended with a comfortable victory for UNC, who have a lot to be proud of overcoming the pressure of their first big test of the season. On the other hand, Carleton has firmly entered the title conversation with their exceptional weekend. I wrote about this the first day, but it bears repeating: Carleton’s young players are crushing it and they could win a championship sooner rather than later. Audrey Parrott, who’s only been playing for 1.5 years, was a tremendous force for the Carleton D-line, getting at least five blocks for them during their semifinal. That makes two second place finishes for Carleton to open the year2, and they are only getting better. Watch out for them come Nationals. 

New England Emerges from the Snowbank

  1. Editor’s note: Grace humbly tried to erase herself from history by leaving herself off the list of graduated Pleiades personnel, but I won’t let that happen. 

  2. they fell in the Santa Barbara Invite final to UBC 

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  1. Grace Conerly
    Grace Conerly

    Grace has played frisbee for 9+ years. She's won some stuff and lost some stuff at various levels. Her most notable accomplishment is winning Triangle Ultimate’s indoor recreational winter league, 2019.

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