Presidents’ Day Invite 2024: Tournament Recap (Women’s Div.)

A stunning come-from-behind win tops three days of exciting west coast action

Oregon Fugue's Georgia Van der Linden surrounded by teammates during prequarters of the 2023 Ultimate Frisbee D-I College Championships. Photo: Sam Hotaling -
Oregon Fugue followed up a Santa Barbara Invite finals berth with a universe point tournament victory at Presidents’ Day. Photo: Sam Hotaling –

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SAN DIEGO — The building crescendo of the Presidents’ Day Invite delivered on the final day with a spectacular bang as the best game of the tournament happened in the finals.1 The top tier of teams that met in San Diego proved their worth on Monday, and while there weren’t as many surprises as on Sunday, the tournament still delivered excellent action, concluding with a come-from-behind win to top it all off.

Oregon Shock Stanford in Electric Final

Over the past two decades, no two teams have defined women’s ultimate in college division more than #6 Oregon Fugue and #7 Stanford Superfly.2 So it’s with no shortage of baggage that these two programs met in the final of the Presidents’ Day Invite. To add a layer on top of their dynastic rivalry, the two teams met only three short weeks earlier in the Santa Barbara Invite semifinals, with that game decided by only a single point! All signs pointed to a thriller of a game.

Both teams entered without a loss over the weekend, though their path to the final was not shy of competition. Stanford overcame #10 UC Santa Barbara Burning Skirts, UC San Diego Dragon Coalition, and #15 Western Washington Chaos on their way to the final. Oregon had to go through #5 Colorado Quandary, UCSD, and #12 Colorado State Hell’s Belles. Somehow, both teams saved enough in their tank to keep the final from devolving into a rock fight, though early points seemed to indicate it might.

Despite a clean hold from both Stanford and Oregon out the gate, the game got messy early. Superfly lost the disc on a miscommunication, only for Fugue to give it back, only for Stanford to hand it back to them, only for Oregon to lose it on the goal line, and so on for a number of turns. Before the ping pong game could go on too long, though, Harper Baer saved Stanford by uncorking a perfect huck to Sage McGinley-Smith. That hold allowed Stanford to send out a line to set their notorious zone defense, and the team settled into wearing down Oregon’s handlers.

It proved effective as the first break of the game was found by Stanford’s zone. Oregon’s offense couldn’t crack the annual puzzle that is Superfly’s gooey defense, and Stanford marched the counter downfield right into the end zone.

The teams would trade holds for a while after that, giving everyone a good look at what to expect from both sides. For Oregon, that meant leaning on Acacia Hahn or Eliana Norton in the backfield while favoring downfield targets like Thalia Tzetos or the effervescent Michiko Magnant. Syris Linkfield, Zoey Hughes and Ezra Weybright headlined their intimidating defensive unit, but it was players like Georgia Van der Linden and Anna Carlson who stepped up when the team needed it. “[Anna] is a freshman from Colorado who’s been all over the field for us this weekend,” said the Oregon captains. “Just making one incredible play after another.”

Stanford’s lineup looked a little different from the ordinary. Esther Filipek was moved downfield into a role as an initiating cutter, and it was Baer and Macy Vollbrecht in the backfield. This wasn’t a random change, either: Filipek injured her hand earlier so they moved her into a role requiring less deep throwing from the lefty.

“Why am I a cutter?” joked Filipek. “I slightly injured my hand on a layout in the last Oregon game [at SBI]. Some of my throws were slightly inconsistent, but I can still use my legs and cut.

“It turns out I can still throw sometimes, too,” Filipek added.

She was right about that. Despite the injury, Filipek made hard throws for her team and was relied upon to get the offense going in many moments throughout the first half. She threw a 30-yard assist to give her team a 4-2 lead early on and a few points later, tallied another assist to get Superfly a 6-4 lead.

Stanford would hold their margin right up into half. Their zone frustrated Oregon and slowed any progress, giving their offense enough time to rest between points and maintain focus when needed. At 7-6, a huck from Filipek set up a goal a few throws later, when Baer found McGinley-Smith for the hold.

The lead was 8-6, but more importantly, cap was setting in soon. Oregon was running out of answers and running out of time.

  1. Available in our video library for subscribers, or as a free recap on our YouTube 

  2. Perhaps a case can be made recently for #1 UNC Pleiades, but history certainly favors Stanford, and probably Oregon, too. 

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  1. Graham Gerhart
    Graham Gerhart

    Graham Gerhart is a Senior Staff Writer at Ultiworld, focusing primarily on the Women's and Mixed divisions. Graham graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa after playing 4 years with the UCT Flying Tigers. He now lives and works full time in San Diego. Follow him on twitter @JustGrahamG



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