WUL/PUL Update: 2024 PUL Season Gets Underway, San Diego and Seattle Survive

Lines are drawn and blowouts had in the PUL's first weeks, and WUL's week 4 brought close wins by favored teams

Philadelphia Surge’s Linda Morse celebrates during Surge’s win over the Milwaukee Monarchs. Photo: Diana Huang – UltiPhotos.com

Welcome to the WUL/PUL Update, Ultiworld’s bi-weekly women’s semi-pro roundup. We’ve got action from Week Four in the Western Ultimate League and Weeks One and Two in the Premier Ultimate League to recap, plus an update to the both league’s power rankings.

WUL Week Four

Seattle On The Board, San Diego (Barely) Unbeaten

After a league-wide bye in Week Three, the WUL returned to action with the season’s first two games of in-conference play in Week Four. In the Northwest, the Utah Wild played host to Seattle Tempest in a wind-blown affair that finished 10-7 in the visitors’ favor, the two-time champions earning their first win of the season in their third outing. Meanwhile in the Southwest, San Diego Super Bloom just managed to hold off an inspired performance from the Arizona Sidewinders 11-10 to maintain the Southern Californians’ unbeaten start to the season.

In the lowest scoring game in league history, road-warriors Seattle did enough in the end to get past Utah despite converting on less than 30% of their red zone opportunities. After the visitors took a 4-2 lead in the first quarter, the teams combined for a grand total of zero goals in a surreal second quarter. Come the second half, though, both teams’ offenses were able to kick into gear. For Tempest, Kaitlynne Roling and Sam Rodenberg directed traffic with four and three assists respectively, and Alexa Romersa, Alexa Kirkland, and Bridget Wipfler each contributed a pair of goals. Though the Wild were able to mostly keep pace in the second half, with Brooke Stanislawski again one of Utah’s all-around leaders with a 1G/2A/1B stat line, they were never able to close the gap as Seattle propelled themselves back into the thick of the battle for the Northwest Conference title.

For the entirety of the game between San Diego and Arizona, the two teams could practically not be separated. The largest score margin at any point in the game was a mere two points as Super Bloom outscored the Sidewinders 4-2 in the second quarter, but the visitors from the desert reeled their hosts in to tie it up heading into the final period. With nearly identical team-wide completion percentages, yards gained, holds, and breaks, it took a final possession score from Dena Elimelech to Meredith Byl after time had expired to seal the win for San Diego.

Elimelech (2G/2A/2B) combined with fellow Super Bloom “Key Three” members Kaela Helton (2G/4A/1B) and Kristen Pojunis (2G/1A/3B) to receive and throw over half of San Diego’s goals and assists, a triumvirate of production Arizona couldn’t overcome. Still, the Sidewinders nearly pulled the road upset, with LP Aragon putting up another impressive offensive performance with a goal and four assists and Chip Chang contributing in all facets of the game with 3G/1A/3B.

Looking Ahead in the WUL

It’s all conference play from here until Championship Weekend, including what should be a brilliant rematch in the desert in Week Five between Arizona and San Diego as the Sidewinders look to get revenge for their last second loss. Week Six sees San Diego on the road again for their fifth game of the season taking on the Bay Area Falcons who will play their first game since their blowout home win over Seattle in Week Two. Meanwhile, Colorado Alpenglow follow San Diego’s lead in playing each of the next three weeks, starting with a home game against Utah in Week Five followed by a Week Six road trip away to Seattle to keep the action rolling in the Northwest.

PUL Week One

Sublime Shadow, Indy and Austin’s Home Cooking

In their first game of the season, Washington DC Shadow let everyone know they are not messing around this season with a comprehensive 16-5 win over Raleigh Radiance. The 2023 Championship Weekend semifinal rematch stood in stark contrast to its predecessor (won by Raleigh 18-16) as DC jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back. Not only did DC more than triple the North Carolina squad’s score, but they also shut them out in the first and third quarters as Radiance’s offense couldn’t find any measure of regular success. In short, Shadow made the reigning champions look like a shell of the Radiance team we’ve come to know, immediately putting DC in pole position to make a return to Championship Weekend.

In the other two games of the PUL’s opening weekend, Indy Red got past Nashville Nightshade in the closest match of the weekend by a slim 15-13 margin. While they made their fair share of mistakes and their opponents had a solid offense, it was clear Red were in the driver’s seat for the entirety of the game. Meanwhile, the match between Austin Torch and Atlanta Soul didn’t look much different despite the not-as-close 15-9 final score. Both teams gave their opponents plenty of chances to score and they played close throughout the first half, but in the end, Torch did a better job at keeping the disc close to their attacking end zone and ran away with the game.

PUL Week Two

North Division Debuts, DC and Raleigh Roll

Milwaukee Monarchs hit the road for an East Coast doubleheader to open their 2024 season. They faced a new-look New York Gridlock team in their first stop and came out strong, falling just short of the road upset as Gridlock pulled away late en route to a 20-17 win. While New York went on several break runs over the course of the game, their comparative lack of chemistry led to numerous turnovers, allowing Milwaukee to get back into the game time and again. Though they were never able to fully close a first-half deficit, the Monarchs stayed within touching distance all game, especially thanks to the throwing prowess of Erynn Shroeder. For Gridlock, Valeria Cardenas and Yina Cartagena, perhaps unsurprisingly, ran the show as New York emerged victorious in their home opener.

Despite their close matchup against New York on Saturday, Milwaukee wasn’t so fortunate in their second game of the weekend against Philadelphia Surge. In their home opener, the Philadelphians proved they’re as capable, if not more so, than they were last season. Surge efficiently converted their break chances and looked polished on the field, jumping out to an 8-1 halftime lead and cruising to a 16-4 win from there.

In the two South Division matchups of the weekend, DC and Raleigh beat Nashville and Atlanta respectively in wins that were never really in doubt. After their heavy loss to Shadow in Week One, Radiance bounced back and showed their true potential with a comprehensive 20-9 win over Atlanta Soul. Speaking of Shadow, they dominated a Nashville team playing on the road for a second straight week, once again giving up a mere five points as they dismantled Nightshade to the tune of a 23-5 victory.

Looking Ahead in the PUL

After the season’s busiest weekend so far, Week Three in the PUL offers a lone North Division matchup as Portland Rising start their season with a home opener against New York Gridlock. In Week Four, Rising travel west as Minnesota Strike welcome Portland for their season opener, and Philly host Indy in a matchup of two undefeated North Division teams. The final weekend of April also sees the return of South Division action when Nashville travel to Raleigh as Nightshade try to claim their first win of the season.

WUL Power Rankings Week Four (4/14)

Rank Team Change Prior
1 - 1
2 +2 4
3 -1 2
4 -1 3
5 +1 6
6 -1 5

Discussion

  • Despite playing on the road for the first week of Southwest Conference play, Arizona nearly knocked off a still-undefeated San Diego and gets a two-spot boost in the power rankings for their trouble.
  • In the Northwest Conference opener, Seattle finally claimed their first win of the season playing away to Utah, and as a result it’s now Utah who sits bottom of the standings.

PUL Power Rankings Week Two (4/14)

Discussion

  • Not only does DC have an incredible +29 point differential, but they’ve also given up a measly five points in both of their games, including against reigning champs Raleigh. If that doesn’t qualify them to be our top team, we don’t know what does.
  • Philly surges to #2 in our power rankings courtesy of their blowout win over Milwaukee, as Raleigh only drops to #3 after their clear rebound win over Atlanta.
  • After playing New York close on the road, Milwaukee rises two spots, jumping over an inactive Portland team and Indy, whose only win so far was narrow and at home against Nashville.
  1. Jenna Weiner
    Jenna Weiner

    Jenna Weiner is a Senior Staff Writer, a co-host of Ultiworld's Double Overtime podcast, and considers herself a purveyor of all levels of ultimate. She's played mostly on the west coast but you're likely to find her at the nearest ultimate game available.

  2. 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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