Northwest Challenge 2024: How to Watch, Tournament Preview (Women’s Div.)

The Northwest Challenge roars in like a lion with the best top-end tournament field of the regular season

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The team list at Northwest Challenge this year is so talented that it’s highly likely that this weekend will be a preview of Nationals in two-and-a-half months. More than half of the top-10 in our power rankings? Yes, please. We are looking at the finest top-to-bottom lineup of the year, and there’s more than a good chance that there will be many close games throughout the course of the weekend as they all lock antlers. The championship title for the tournament is already penciled in1, but, unlike earlier events, it isn’t by any means etched in stone. Get your streaming devices charged and your popcorn ready, because the show is about to begin!

Tournament Profile

  • Date: March 15-17
  • Location: Seattle, WA
  • Weather: Temperatures in the 60s with mostly sunny skies
  • Top 25 teams: 10 D-I women’s division, 1 D-III women’s division
  • Schedules & Results
  • Event Page

Streaming Schedule

All Ultiworld Standard and All-Access subscribers will have access to watch the live broadcasts from this year’s Northwest Challenge (Women’s Div.), where we will have one game in each broadcasting round.

The broadcast schedule can be found below:

All times are PT.

Friday, March 15

5:45 PM: BYU vs. Washington [W]

Saturday, March 16

8:30 AM: Victoria vs. Wisconsin [W] | Oregon vs. BYU [W]
10:25 AM: Western Washington vs. Northeastern [W] | Oregon vs. Victoria [W]
2:25 PM: UNC vs. Washington [W] | Carleton vs. Colorado [W]
4:25 PM: Prequarters 2D vs. 3A [W] | Prequarters 2C vs. 3B [W]

Sunday, March 17

10:25 AM: Quarterfinal TBD [W] | Quarterfinal TBD [W]
12:25 PM: Semifinal TBD [W] | Semifinal TBD [W]
2:25 PM: Final TBD [W] | 3rd Place Final TBD [W]

Tournament Preview

Colorado Quandary demonstrate their excitement at the 2024 Stanford Invite. Photo by Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

UNC: Undefeated and Loving It

All eyes will be on #1 North Carolina Pleiades this weekend to see if they can continue their undefeated streak. While chances are strong that they will win out, if there is a tournament to add pressure for a Pleiades loss before Nationals, it’s this one. In the first place, they’re traveling farther than any other team in the field, which can take its toll. And after more than four years of treating the rest of the division like a bunch of marionettes, they’ve got a target on their backs larger than their collective airline miles. However, the strengths of the team outweigh their hurdles. They will come with a full roster and the depth and discipline to keep them strong. Theresa Yu, Erica Birdsong, and Dawn Culton show no signs of slowing and will be the hardest players to stop all weekend.

Top Challengers Sharpen Their Knives

Many teams will be coming in swinging, some may even be eyeing the chance to challenge the undefeated-est team. While #2 Vermont Ruckus will have to wait a couple more weeks to get another shot at the champs, the next four best teams in the country all have title ambitions. Together, they’ll form a ferocious gauntlet. #3 UBC Thunderbirds’ depth is potentially unmatched, and they only have one loss for their season so far, a late-game stumble in the Stanford Invite final. #5 Oregon Fugue has the chemistry to match UNC, might just have the star power to do the same, and also only have one loss on season, a close game to UBC back in January. Unlike those two, #4 Carleton Syzygy have already had a shot at Pleiades this season. Could the scouting from that Queen City encounter (and their brilliant first- and second-year players) help them flip the result this time around? Pleiades have their work cut out for them.2

Other Storylines

  • Both #8 Colorado Quandary and #13 Washington Element will be looking for redemption after some early spring stumbles. Now is the time to raise the floor for both programs.
  • The Northwest region could be in position to cement multiple strength bids, with several of their down-ballot potential earners in attendance. Any out-of-region pool play wins will go miles toward the #ferda goal.
  • Traveling almost as far as UNC, #25 Northeastern Valkyries have a single mission: clawing a third strength bid for New England to help secure a return trip to Nationals.

  1. cough Pleiades cough 

  2. A previous version of this article incorrectly reported that #6 Stanford Superfly would be in attendance. We have removed the offending sentence, charming sandworm comparison and all. 

  1. Laura Osterlund
    Laura Osterlund

    Laura picked up a disc her senior year of high school and hasn't put it down since. She played on the mixed/open team at Bethel University where she graduated with a journalism degree. Based out of the Twin Cities, MN, you can find her engaging in all levels of Ultimate: working with Minnesota Strike, playing mixed club, and grinding at local ultimate and goalty leagues. Her ultimate accomplishment - besides helping start a women's league (coming spring 2024) - is winning Z league with Big Blue.

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