ConfRegionals Mega Preview (Women’s Div.)

Bids to Nationals will be decided right off the bat in the first weekend of the college postseason!

Leina Goto’s St. Olaf enters the college postseason ranked number one by USAU. Photo: Kevin Wayner – UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 college ultimate season are 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.

D-III is unique as some regions simply don’t have enough teams to fill a regional tournament, meaning their Regionals are during Conferences, or ConfRegionals as dubbed by the former 7500 Club podcast. Out of the ten regions, seven in D-III women’s necessitate a ConfRegionals. With Nationals qualifications starting tomorrow and ending the first week of May, it will surely make for an exciting time for the division. Without further ado, here are your previews for this weekend’s ConfRegionals.

Atlantic Coast

The curse of the Atlantic Coast isn’t broken yet. For the past three years, a different team has represented the Atlantic Coast at Nationals. This post-pandemic shuffle started off with Richmond, followed by Mary Washington in 2022, and left off with Catholic in 2023. Despite a tough time at 2023 Nationals, Nunn Betta seemed to solidify their place as the regional favorite for 2024. But their 6-6 run in the regular season might have tainted their dream of being the region dominator, as tough losses against Cedarville and Lehigh revealed that Nunn Betta’s road to Nationals is more turbulent than expected. Perhaps this past month provided the reset they need to prove they’re worthy enough to break the AC curse.

#23 Richmond Redhots started this Natties shuffle and this year it’s their job to keep it alive. The Redhots have already knocked out some AC competition with their big 14-2 win over Mary Washington, making their journey back to Nationals seemingly more possible. Snagging the bid might be even easier when both of their O- and D-lines are stacked with captains and throwing-extraordinaires, Emma Alatzas and Arianna Kightlinger. The Redhots still have a lot to prove, especially since they enter the postseason with a 7-5 record, but their fiery talent could be enough to make a statement in their region and at Nationals.

Joining the fierce competition is #19 Davidson People’s DUFF. Coming out of nowhere, Davidson pushed their way to the top of the AC region and now appear the favorite for the sole bid. Their impressive 9-3 win over Cedarville and an even more respectable 10-5 loss to title-contending St. Olaf at Needle in a Ho-Stack catapulted them above Richmond and Catholic. Unfortunately, Davidson’s plans to compete in the Atlantic Coast Open were canceled when injuries struck some of their players. Davidson had a small team to begin, and if the People’s DUFF can field their full roster, you can expect to see them shake things up even more in the Atlantic Coast.

Great Lakes

It’s been quite the year for the little region that could in the D-III women’s division, with the #24 Davenport Panthers bursting onto the scene to much aplomb. However, despite having well-compensated (at least compared to other ultimate players) athletes, the Panthers have had to deal with some first season mishaps. However, just their existence brings an extra layer of excitement to the region. In the last couple seasons the Knox Alley Cats have been able to walk away with the bid to Nationals pretty cleanly, but will certainly have their hands full this season. Davenport has some major players, including Lanie O’Neill who led the Clemson Tiger Lilies during her tenure there, and Yasmin Bañares who repped Team Canada. Plus the team boasts a ton of pure athletic talent beyond ultimate experience, perhaps best exemplified by Kayanna Williams, who is playing her first year of organized ultimate but has a background in track and field and is incredibly dangerous in the open space.

That isn’t to say the Davenport Panthers have it sewn up this year. The Alley Cats and Panthers haven’t faced off against each other yet, and there’s very little connectivity between the two teams. It’s hard to say how much of a favorite Davenport really is. Moreover, Davenport hasn’t ever had a postseason run, and may not be used to the pressure in the same way that Knox has proven they are. Additionally Knox has a solid number of returners this year with Nationals experience, including key players Kali Cristopher, Nola Walston, and Leah Wheatley who led the team last year at Nationals.

One way in which the teams are similar is their depth – with both teams fielding fewer than fifteen players in the regular season, it might come down to a battle of endurance on Sunday and could prove to be a close matchup.

There’s also the field to consider. Wheaton Westwind only played two games this season, both against the Michigan Tech Superior Ma’s, and lost both 9-4 and 9-5. North Park Allihopa, Kalamazoo Queen Beez, and Valparaiso Chicks Hucking Discs haven’t played any regular season games, but typically field teams for the ConfRegionals tournament,1 and as a result, remain an ominous question mark for the teams that have put in their ten games to earn the bid for the region.

North Central

For the first time ever, the North Central claimed four bids for Nationals, earning the title of strongest region of 2024. With all four bid-earning teams well inside the strength bid bubble, the excitement for the NC is centered around how the top teams will shake out. Following a tumultuous season of up and down results at the top of the division, #1 St. Olaf Vortex and #4 Carleton Eclipse are poised to provide a Nationals bracket preview in their hometown of Northfield. While both teams have blemishes on their records, this is the first meeting between the two schools this season. Sitting at the top of their respective pools, it will take an uncharacteristic loss from these two titans to prevent a ConfRegionals final matchup.

St. Olaf has had a particularly strong season. While they faltered slightly at their first sanctioned tournament, Midwest Throwdown, with one-point losses to #21 Truman State and D-I Northwestern, Vortex tightened up at their final two tournaments with dominant wins across the board. Their closest game was a 6-4 win against up-and-coming regional challengers #8 Macalester. If everything goes to plan for Vortex, they can avoid a rematch with Macalester entirely en route to earning the first bid. Additionally, as the hosts of ConfRegionals, St. Olaf just has to make it across campus for these games. Vortex have some big players ready for the big stage, led by their three captains Ellie McDonald, Emily Mulhern, and Grace Milhaupt. Expect contributions from lesser known talents like Juliana Eno, a D-line cutter who loves to layout, Morgan Ryan, a threat in the deep space with a knack for skying opponents, and Hannah Omodt, an experienced D-line handler who brings an aura of comfort to the field. Not to be forgotten, Vortex still have Leina Goto, the 2023 BPOTY.

On the other side of town sits Carleton Eclipse in an unfamiliar position. They have not been seeded lower than Vortex going into ConfRegionals since 20182, and have not lost to Vortex since 2019 ConfRegionals. This is unfamiliar territory for Eclipse, being the clear top of the North Central for years. Unlike Vortex, Eclipse have direct experience against the top of the division, but came away with a 2-2 record against the top five.3 With two months of practice, chemistry building, and a dominant showing at Southerns 2024, will we see the Eclipse of recent past or is it Vortex’s time to shine? For Eclipse to succeed this weekend, they’ll lean on established stars Frankie Saraniti and Rowan Dong, but rising stars like Grace Prince, Kyla Christie, and Maddy Brown can have big contributions.

An unlikely challenger based on past years, the #8 Macalester Pursesnatchers4 break into the national picture with extremely strong showings at Midwest Throwdown and Old Capitol Open. A phenomenal 9-3 record, including two losses to St. Olaf and a 7-6 loss to Purdue, buoys the Pursesnatchers into bid earning territory. Macalester is 2-2 against ranked D-III competition, and are set to continue their success at ConfRegionals. While they drew Eclipse in pool play, Macalester is just the team to snatch Eclipse’s chance to fight for the NC title. For the record, leaving Macalester off the rankings for so long was a definite snub, and they were sure to let us know through some phenomenal retweets.5 Ready to show the world what we were missing, Macalester will lean on stars Claire Lee and Sophie Carpenter in the backfield and Molly Friedrichs in the cutter space.

Our final bid-earning team, the #11 Michigan Tech Superior Ma’s had a unique time claiming a strength bid. After Meltdown was canceled, the Superior Ma’s scrambled to get 10 games in with some hard work, endless emails to other teams, and accommodating TDs.6 After a tough Saturday at Old Capitol Open, Michigan Tech dominated on Sunday with a 27-8 point differential on their path to a ninth place finish. The Superior Ma’s have never earned a bid themselves, but this season they just need to hold seed to play in Milwaukee in May. Michigan Tech does have a tough draw for pools, with St. Olaf7 and Grinnell on Saturday. Expect big contributions from experienced stars Emma Elliot, Haniya Frayer, and Kayli Roe and breakout performances from first years Ellie Bush, Harlo Plendl, and Ashlea Datto.

The biggest challenger hunting for a bid is the Grinnell Grinneleanor Roosevelts. Coming off a tightly fought Old Capitol Open where Grinnell went 2-5 including a promising 8-5 loss to Macalester, this team is poised to make a big impact at ConfRegionals with experience against St. Olaf and Macalester. If they can build on that this weekend, they could find themselves punching a ticket to Nationals. Outside of Grinnell, St. Thomas Lavender Haze enter ConfRegionals with zero resume and a small roster of just 10 players. As we all know, NC ConfRegionals weather is always a factor. While the weather calls for clear skies and 60 degrees, high winds are present on both days. If Grinnell or St. Thomas can use these winds well, upsets could be aplenty.

Northwest

  • Schedule and results
  • Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
  • Nationals Bids: 2
  • Favorites: #2 Whitman, #3 Portland
  • Challengers: #18 Lewis & Clark, #22 Puget Sound
  • Fire Emoji Levels: 🔥🔥

Four ranked teams, two bids to Nationals, and some unfinished business on the line in between the two favorites; this could end up being one of the most exciting ConfRegionals of the season in D-III. On the flip side though it’s most likely to go to chalk with a large gap between the favorites of #2 Whitman Sweets and the #3 Portland UPRoar and the hopefuls #18 Lewis & Clark Artemis and #22 Puget Sound Clearcut and an equal gap to the final team in the region Pacific Lutheran Reign Women.

First the favorites. The Whitman Sweets put the league on notice early on in the season by beating regional rivals and fellow favorites Portland not once, but twice at D-III Grand Prix, first in pools 8-6 and then again in the first-place game 7-3. They did suffer a loss that weekend to Carleton Eclipse, but the showing was enough to rocket them up to second in our power rankings where they remain. The Sweets rounded out their season at Northwest Challenge where they weathered loss after loss in a crucible of top D-I talent. However it probably prepared them to play against D-III opponents much better than going to another minor tournament and the proverbial training weights will be off this weekend.

Porland UPRoar had a fantastic showing last year at Nationals, losing in their semifinal matchup against eventual champions Middlebury. They would probably also be quick to remind anyone who asks that the D-III Grand Prix was a long time ago and they’ve won a tournament of their own since then, beating out Puget Sound twice and bageling Pacific Lutheran at PLU BBQ 2024. Though they haven’t played since February, UPRoar still have the potential to not only win this ConfRegional, but win the national title as well.

One thing both teams bring to the table is star power. For Whitman it’s Gemma Munck, who’s made her case for POTY very clear and had the most goals at 2023 Nationals, but don’t count out returners Wyatt Albright and Gabbie Campbell who showed up big for the Sweets last year at Nationals. Albright was second only to Munck in goals for the Sweets and Cambell beat out everyone at the tournament in assists at a double-take-inducing 28, not to mention nine blocks.

For UPRoar it’ll surely be Julianna “JJ” Galian leading the charge. She put up her own dizzying numbers at Nationals last year, slashing 15G/14A/7D with only 12 turns. This is extra impressive when you take into consideration that this is a team that wants to move the disc through all seven people on the field. Furthermore, she’s far from alone. Portland returns Hana Elawady and Hayden Ashley, both of whom were instrumental in UPRoar’s success last season and continue to be in 2024. Ashley tied with Galian last year for 14 assists and Elawady roped in six points at Nationals and threw for one.

Now for the hopefuls. Lewis & Clark had a solid season, trading wins with Puget Sound at D-III Grand Prix and finishing third at the Irvine Open with not one, but two bagels over two separate opponents. However, having already lost in head-to-heads against both bid-earning teams this season, it seems a far cry to suggest they’ll be able to steal a bid. Much the same can be said for Puget Sound who got two more runs at Portland at PLU BBQ but couldn’t pull out the win. However, they did notch a 13-0 win over Pacific Lutheran and beat Oregon State twice. There’s a reason the games are played and at least one of these teams will be given a chance at a game-to-go, where the pressure can break down even the most consistent of rosters.

South Central

  • Schedule and results
  • Location: Kansas City, Missouri
  • Nationals Bids: 1
  • Favorites: #5 Colorado College
  • Challengers: #13 Trinity, #20 Rice, #21 Truman State
  • Fire Emoji Levels: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

For a small region, the sole bid to Nationals has a lot of contenders. The opportunity for a trip to Wisconsin is starting in the hands of #5 Colorado College, but can potentially be taken away by #13 Trinity, #20 Rice, or #21 Truman State. Zenith have sat comfortably in the top 10 throughout the regular season but have limited experience against their South Central challengers. Will they prove, once again, that they are the region’s top dog, or can the other contenders snag the bid from right under them?

Colorado College finds itself in a unique position, regionally. They spent this season ping-ponging between the Northwest and South Central regions, picking up 16 wins along the way. Their most notable games were their win against Carleton Eclipse at D-III Grand Prix and a close loss to Middlebury at Women’s Centex. They’re capable of keeping up with the nation’s finest, but sweeping their region for the Natties bid isn’t exactly written in stone for Zenith just yet.

Despite losing to Zenith 11-7 at Centex, Trinity has been making a steady trek towards the top slot of the South Central. They overcame their early season loss to Rice, which cost them the Antifreeze title, with two wins over Cloud 9 at the Women’s Centex. If Altitude continue seeking vengeance over their regional rivals, Zenith are next.

Trinity isn’t the only team with eyes fixed on stealing the bid from Colorado College. Rice started their season with an undefeated run at Antifreeze. Their winning streak came to an end when they met Trinity again at Women’s Centex, which was expected considering they took a 10-person team to a “four back-to-back games” tournament. Rice’s performance at Women’s Centex is not representative of their talent, but did showcase their grit in tough circumstances. Hopefully Rice will bring the other 40% of their team and create some damage at the South Central ConfRegional.

The most exciting contender for this bid is Truman State. TSUnami might still be riding the high of beating #1 St. Olaf 5-4 in the Midwest Throwdown semifinals. Truman set the bar pretty high for themselves, and even though their win against a top team didn’t come easy, they now know what it takes to rise above their competition regardless of who they are. The big wave is coming and it might be enough to knock the Nationals bid out of Zenith’s hands.

Southeast

In recent years this tournament has a been a one game affair between the Berry Valkyries and the #7 Union Jillz. This year however the two rivals are joined by a new challenger in the form of the Georgia College Lynx Rufus.

Although they’ll be competing in Berry’s backyard, Union is the Southeast favorite this year. Union’s year has been impressive leading into the postseason, with a record of 18-2. Both losses were to D-I schools, and both were by a single point, losing first to Alabama-Huntsville Terro, 10-9 at Huckfest 2024 and then later to Tennessee Big Orange Screw at The Only Tenn I See Memorial. Union is led by their star handler Victoria Green, who had an impressive showing at Nationals last year, as well as current captain Claire Ward.

More telling of why Union should be planning their trip to Nationals soon is that they already have a 13-2 head-to-head win over Berry at Moxie Madness. As for Georgia College, although there are no head-to-head matchups, the Lynx Rufus did trade games against Georgia [B] at Southerns whereas Union drummed the Medusas 12-3 earlier in the season at The Only Tenn I See.

While the Jillz may indeed be the clear favorites leading into the Southeast ConfRegional, it’s not all doom and gloom for Berry and Georgia College. Berry has a young team of developing talent and competing in the postseason at all will provide valuable experience for a team in the early stages of a serious rebuild. As for Georgia College they should be proud to just be fielding a team again after a three year hiatus following their 2021 campaign. The Southeast women’s D-III division has been plagued with a lack of consistency from teams since its inception, so it’s encouraging to have a third team back in the postseason.

Southwest

A best of three game round robin between Occidental WAC and Claremont Greenshirts will decide this region’s sole Nationals attendee. Up until the final weekend of the season, Claremont looked to be in the driver’s seat in the Southwest. With wins against Denver and Santa Clara alongside respectable losses to Cal Poly-SLO, Carleton Eclipse, and Utah, Claremont had a much better resume. Occidental on the other hand only had wins against B teams, California (B) and Cal Poly-SLO (B).

But at the Claremont Classic Occidental came out strong, dominating Claremont 8-0 and getting a 9-7 win over Cal State-Long Beach while Claremont struggled, losing 10-3 to Cal State-Long Beach. Going into ConfRegionals with the largest roster I have ever seen in D-III Women’s8, Claremont is set to challenge Occidental’s similarly massive roster of 31. Occidental has the opportunity to prove if their dominant performance at the end of March was for real or just a fluke.

If the past few years are any indication, Occidental should have a slight leg up, representing the SW at Nationals for the past three years. Never count out an underdog though, as Claremont may bring a new sense of hunger to this long term regional rivalry.


  1. At the time of writing Great Lakes had not yet published their schedule 

  2. The year Vortex were national champions 

  3. At D-III Grand Prix, Eclipse beat Whitman 10-7 and Colorado College 6-5, but took an 8-5 loss to Portland and a 10-8 loss to Colorado College 

  4. Truthfully one of the best team names in ultimate, but hey that NC bias is strong 

  5. Sean Prichard, a big fan of the Macalester Pursesnatchers, directed several tweets our way. Here’s one of our favorites 

  6. Their end of season record shows as 6-3 since one of the ten games was a forfeit win against Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

  7. While unlikely, Michigan Tech had success against St. Olaf in Northfield before, stealing a bid in the game-to-go in 2021, the Superior Ma’s first ever Nationals berth 

  8. Claremont has 36 people on their Series roster 

  1. Anna Browne
    Anna Browne

    Anna Browne is a writer for the D-III Women's Division. She has been playing competitive ultimate since 2019, spending her college years at Michigan Tech. Anna is based in Detroit, Michigan where she plays in the Women's Club Division and coaches the Michigan Tech Superior Ma's.

  2. Raquel Alegria
    Raquel Alegria

    Originally from Los Angeles and a current senior at Wellesley College, Raquel is majoring in Economics and minoring in Psychology. Over the past two years, she has been playing for the Wellesley Whiptails and has developed a strong passion for the sport of ultimate.

  3. Zack Davis
    Zack Davis

    Former D-III player for Spring Hill College, poached on the breakside.

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