D-I College Regionals 2024: Weekend 2 Preview (Women’s Div.)

Next up: AC, NE, and NW. After they're done, we'll know our Nationals field.

Washington’s Savanna Tucker against BYU at Northwest Challenge 2024. Photo: Sam Hotaling – 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.

There are few more exciting portions of the ultimate calendar than spring College Regionals. For some, these events will be the culmination of a season — or even college career — while for others it’s just another step on their path toward the College Championships over Memorial Day weekend. Count on plenty of dramatic action and unexpected results along the way as every team fights to ensure they fall into the latter group.

Seven regions will take to the fields this weekend across the country to decide their representatives heading to Madison, while the final three will field teams the following weekend. We’ve got you covered on the storylines to watch, the expected contender tiers, and players who could make a difference in ending or extending their team’s seasons!

Atlantic Coast

#4 UNC Pleiades enter the tournament as the clear favorites to take the singular bid. Regionals feels like a near formality for a team with their eyes on the fourth consecutive national title. UNC have shown their dominance over the region time and time again, and pulling off the upset would require a historic effort from their opponents. For Pleiades, this weekend will be an opportunity for them to get a last tune-up before Nationals. They’ll be looking to polish up their systems and give their famous depth some more experience playing in big moments. After a middling1 end to the regular season, Atlantic Coast Regionals is UNC’s chance to kick things back into gear and gather some momentum going into the Big Show.

Far behind Pleiades are a pack of teams with tangled results. NC State Jaga Monsta entered the postseason as UNC’s closest contender… but their fifth-place conference finish casts doubts on their ability to live up to that role. Jaga are a small squad that can pack a powerful punch. They’ve seasoned their stock with a promising early season performance at Carolina Kickoff, but we will see if they can survive the bracket to earn a spot in the game-to-go.

Duke Swerve are the team that met Pleiades in the Carolina Conference final. With a resume that includes wins over NC State and South Carolina Scorch, Swerve make a strong case for being the next-best team in the region. Still, it will take an extraordinary performance from the whole Swerve squad to return to Nationals for the first time in over two decades.

South Carolina Scorch and Virginia Hydra are in the mix too. Last year, Hydra earned a strength bid for the region and took it all the way to nationals. This year, Virginia are struggling to regain a measure of their former power with lackluster regular season results. Scorch had strong early season results, including a 13-4 win over Virginia at Queen City Tune-Up, but no recent wins that would indicate they can stand up to the reigning national champions. Regionals could be the road to redemption for either of these teams.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Sarah Combs (UNC) – Combs recently crossed over from being a Pleiades D-line mainstay to the O-line. Since then, she’s been running the downfield space, driving the offense at times with her energy and engine. She’ll be an important presence for UNC as they look to secure another regional title.

Ellen Yu (NC State) – Yu is NC State’s backfield anchor and one of the best throwers in the region. An unflappable handler and savvy defender, she’ll be the crucial centerpiece of Jaga Monsta’s regional game plan.

Ashley Talwar (Duke) – Talwar shoulders a big offensive load for Duke, but she’s more than capable of rising to the challenge. As Swerve look to make a run at regionals, expect Talwar to be at the center of it all.

New England

#1 Vermont Ruckus essentially have the New England autobid locked up. They’ve had a banner season, taking down #2 UBC Thunderbirds at Stanford Invite and UNC Pleiades (twice!) at East Coast Invite. And the program’s depth is arguably unmatched in the division, so much so that their A, B, and C teams all qualified for Regionals. After the three blowout wins Ruckus notched at Conferences, they should feel confident booking their flights to Madison.

With one bid all but guaranteed, let’s look towards the final bid. Up until a couple of weeks ago, #10 Tufts EWO seemed secure in their position as the strength bid earners for New England. Tufts established their standing in the region at East Coast Invite just last month where they beat rivals #14 Northeastern Valkyries 15-7. The combination of Lia Schwartz, Edi Lam, and Emily Kemp is one few teams have an answer to. EWO are deep, athletic, and have the potential to claim a semifinals berth at Nationals. Discussion over, right? Not quite.

In the final of Metro Boston Conferences, a hot Northeastern team avenged their ECI loss by beating Tufts on universe to win the conference title. Suddenly, EWO don’t look quite as infallible. The Valkyries fell just one spot short of earning their own strength bid this season, but Northeastern clearly aren’t putting their Nationals hopes to rest yet. The Valkyries have every chance of pulling off the upset if they can give an encore of their conference performance this weekend.

Not far behind Tufts and Northeastern, Brown Shiver are a team with a lot of upset potential. Shiver captain and U24 selection Rita Feder has officially returned from injury, and she’s surrounded by a talented crew. Their run to the final of Centex showed that when they are locked-in, Brown can be a Nationals-level squad. It’s open season in New England for the last ticket to Nationals.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Kennedy McCarthy (Vermont) – Even on a team as star-studded as Ruckus, McCarthy’s talent shines bright. She’s the offensive engine that powers Vermont’s success and few players can hope to stop her once she gets going. Expect her to be at the center of all things good for Vermont as they look to win another regional title.

Edi Lam (Tufts) – Lam has had a breakout college season after their stint with Boston Brute Squad in the club division. They provide the downfield spark to EWO’s offense and can play shutdown defense on the toughest matchups. Lam’s ability to be a two-way threat will make them instrumental to Tufts’ Nationals ambitions.

Elise Freedman (Northeastern) – Speaking of Brute Squad, Lam’s club teammate Elise Freedman hopes to lead the Valkyries back to Nationals this weekend. Her speed and athleticism will be hard to stop, especially when coupled with Northeastern’s capable handling core.

Rita Feder (Brown) – Brown’s star Rita Feder is back after injury cut her season short last year. Feder brings a wealth of high-level ultimate experience, including winning a gold medal with the US U24 national team last summer, and she can absolutely take over a game when she wants to. She is the do-it-all handler Shiver needs to pull off the upset.

 

Northwest

  • Schedule & Results
  • Location: Burlington, WA
  • Number of Bids: 6
  • Excitement Level: fire emojifire emojifire emoji
  • Expected Qualifiers: UBC, Oregon, BYU, Washington, Victoria, Utah, Western Washington
  • In the Hunt: Realistically? Nobody

In a season of shake-ups and upsets, one team has remained consistent: British Columbia Thunderbirds. With only one loss on their season (on universe point against Vermont), they are poised to take the region with flying colors. The depth of their roster is a testament to how powerful of a team they have been all season, with few players standing out above the whole, as their systems allow them to all make plays and evenly distribute the disc. A team who has their sights set on a national title will no doubt look to wreak some havoc at Regionals to prepare for the Big Dance in Madison.

For the first time since 2005, #9 BYU CHI will make an appearance at Northwest Regionals. Because of the small number of teams at Big Sky Conferences, the condensed one-day tournament where all teams advanced allowed CHI the chance to qualify without having to miss the typical Sunday bracket of a standard tournament2. And, with six whole bids, depending on the tournament structure, if they win their pool on Saturday, there’s was, for a second, a chance to give them a shot at qualifying for Nationals without requiring Sunday play. It would have been a good season for them to do this, as is reflected by some of their results from this season: an 11-5 record, which includes wins over #6 Stanford Superfly, Utah Spiral Jetty, and #16 UC Santa Cruz Sol. However, due to USAU’s formatting rules3, it appears that BYU will not even be able to qualify for Nationals, even if they win out on Saturday because of the fact that they will forfeit all of their placement games on Sunday. Read the full rundown on the BYU situation here.

With a whopping six-bid region and only4 eight teams present with a path to qualify, it’s not a surprise that there is parity between all of the top teams at this tournament. Outside of UBC who will likely roll their competition like they’ve been doing all season, the rest of the tournament will likely consist of close games between the other top six (or five if you don’t count BYU), where the question will not be about who will get the bids, but rather where they will place to determine their seedings at Nationals. #5 Oregon Fugue have the next strongest record, with losses to only one team in the region (UBC).  #11 Washington Element and #18 Victoria Vikes will likely fall in the middle of the qualifiers pack, as they both have equal wins and losses to teams in their region, and #19 Western Washington Chaos and Utah will be looking to claim those last two bids to Nationals. It’s hard to see either of the remaining teams breaking through.

Players Who Could Make a Difference

Ezra Weybright (Oregon) – We’ve said it once, we’re saying it now, and we’ll likely say it again in the future; there’s not much that Ezra Weybright can’t do on the field in his current playing form. They are a deep threat on both the throwing and receiving end of the disc.

Madison Ong (British Columbia) – On a team with as much depth as British Columbia, their systems make it hard for players to really stand out. So, when Madison Ong can show she’s a player who makes noise on the field, we know she’s the real deal. There isn’t a defense in the world that faze her, and she knows how and when to step up any time her team needs it.

Nikki Merrill (BYU) – For the entire season, Nikki Merill has been the center of her team’s offense. All good teams have a good center handler who can every-other-throw if necessary, make rock-solid decisions about when to slow the pace, or break a defense with a single well-placed toss. Merrill has been a true rock for her team and will not be stopping any time soon.

Lily Terpstra (Utah) – Don’t let her size and her youth fool you, Lily Terpstra is a danger on all sides of the disc. With the confidence she has from her YCC experience and budding WUL career, she will make her mark on the division sooner than later. Her hucks are practically unstoppable, and her prowess as a reciever are hard to match.


  1. by recent Pleiades standards 

  2. ICYMI: BYU do not play on Sundays so they rarely go far in bracket play 

  3. and an email that was sent out to the team, as discussed in the Ultiworld Discord 

  4. *checks notes* more than half the teams attending will get a bid, that can’t be right. Oh, it is? Oh my. 

  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.

  2. Felicia Zheng
    Felicia Zheng

    Felicia Zheng is a D-I College Women’s reporter for Ultiworld. Originally from Wisconsin, she is currently on the East Coast playing with her beloved college team, Yale Ramona Quimby. In her free time, she enjoys talking about all things ultimate with teammates, friends, and strangers alike. You can reach her by email at [email protected].

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