WUL/PUL Update: WUL Champ Weekend Qualifiers, PUL Southern Showdown

Utah keep their playoff hopes alive with win over reigning champs Seattle, and DC fell Raleigh again in the top South teams' second meeting

Utah Wild's Justine Cherwink celebrates a goal against Seattle Tempest late in the 2024 Western Ultimate League regular season. Photo: Sam Hotaling - UltiPhotos.com
Utah Wild’s Justine Cherwink celebrates a goal against Seattle Tempest late in the 2024 WUL regular season. Photo: Sam Hotaling – UltiPhotos.com

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

WUL Week Seven

A Colorado Clincher

Despite being the lone one-game weekend of the 2024 WUL season, Week Seven still proved to be plenty consequential. In a Championship Weekend qualifying matchup, Colorado Alpenglow completed an undefeated home stand with a 22-15 win over Seattle Tempest, guaranteeing two more mile-high home games for Alpenglow at Championship Weekend.

The hosts were in control from the start, converting an opening-point break opportunity — the first of ten such defensive line scores for Colorado. Alysha Dixon and Rory Veldman led the Alpenglow block party with four blocks and a goal each, with Veldman also contributing a trio of assists. Colorado’s offense held up their end of the bargain as well, with a decade of clean holds to match their defensive counterparts. Sarah Itoh (5G/1A), Ari Nelson (4A), and Jade McLaughlin (2G/3A) were among Alpenglow’s statistical leaders on the offensive end as Colorado built a three-goal lead at halftime before putting the result beyond doubt with a 7-4 final quarter advantage.

As for Seattle, despite solid performances from the likes of Sam Rodenberg (2G/3A), Emily Decker (3G), Cheryl Hsu (1G/2A/1D) and Carly Campana (1G/2A/1D), they could never muster enough offense to keep up with Alpenglow at altitude. As a result, Colorado confirmed their place at their first ever Championship Weekend and will enjoy the benefits of home field advantage as they try and take down the title.

WUL Week Eight

Fearsome Falcons, Willful Wild

After two nearly diametrically opposed games, the WUL now has three of its four teams set for Championship Weekend ahead of the regular season finale in Week Nine. In the Southwest Conference, the Bay Area Falcons trounced the Arizona Sidewinders 18-7 to secure their second straight Championship Weekend appearance in a result that was effectively never in doubt. Meanwhile, the Northwest Conference game of the week saw the Utah Wild go on the road and kept their Championship Weekend hopes alive with a wire-to-wire but still nervy win over Seattle Tempest 22-20.

For a moment, it seemed like Arizona might buck the trend of road teams getting blown out when playing away at the Bay Area, the Sidewinders making good on a first-point hold on an angled backhand from LP Aragon to Megan Maxfield. Then the Falcons scored seven straight points and never looked back as they staked their claim at Championship Weekend in decisive fashion. Despite the cliché, it really was a team effort from the Bay Area with 12 different goal scorers and 13 different assist throwers — Kanari Imanishi the only player with more than two goals or assists as the Japan World Games player notched a trio of scores. Elsa Winslow and Amanda Leahey each had three blocks as the Falcons’ defense suffocated the Sidewinders’ offense, with Cynthia Thomas the brightest offensive spark for Arizona with two goals and an assist. 

Leading wire-to-wire, Utah took advantage of a Seattle team that was missing Sadie Jezierski and Kaitlynne Roling, among others, and jumped out to a 4-0 lead before holding off a series of Tempest runs. Playing without Kendra Miller themselves, the Wild were able to ride big games from Kat Songer (3G/4A), Brooke Stanislawski (2G/4A), and Lily Terpstra (3G/1A/1D) on their way to their road win. Paige Kercher also had a nearly perfect game in the Utah backfield, going 60/61 on completions with three assists and a new single game record 568 throwing yards. With both teams connecting on two decades worth of goals in the season’s highest scoring game, Seattle had their fair share of standout offensive showings. Drea Baroma led the league in goals on the weekend with four to go along with three assists, and Cheryl Hsu piled up 616 total yards as she put up an impressive 3G/3A/1D stat line. Bridget Wipfler (3G/2D), Alexa Kirkland (4A/2D), and Cat Chung (1G/2A/1D) were some of the other Tempest standouts as Seattle tried to work their way back into the game, but a late Terpstra block ensured Utah’s Championship Weekend hopes stayed alive one week longer.

Looking Ahead In The WUL

Only one week remains in the 2024 WUL regular season and it will decide the final attendee at this year’s Championship Weekend. After fending off elimination on the road against Seattle, Utah will host Colorado as Wild hope to join Alpenglow at Championship Weekend and eliminate two-time champs Tempest in the process. In the Southwest Conference, both San Diego and the Bay Area have already clinched their places.

WUL Power Rankings:
Rank Team Change Prior
1 - 1
2 - 2
3 +2 5
4 +2 6
5 -1 4
6 -3 3

Discussion

  • Following the Bay Area’s thrashing of Arizona, the Falcons maintain their hold on the top spot, while the eliminated Sidewinders drop to the back of the pack.
  • Out of the contentious Northwest Conference, already-qualified Colorado rise into the top-half of the standings, and Utah gets the boost over Seattle after their season-saving away win.

PUL Week Five

Nailbiter in Knoxville, Top Teams Triumph

Week Five of PUL competition saw more of the same trend of blowouts that’s been going on for the past few weeks. Philadelphia Surge reminded everyone they’re a dominant force with a convincing 22-7 win in their cross-division matchup against Austin Torch. In the North Division, Indy Red put up a strong fight against New York Gridlock but ultimately lost 19-11. Minnesota Strike also showed up to convincingly beat an error-prone Milwaukee Monarchs 21-9.

All eyes were on the South Division, however, as Raleigh Radiance traveled to face DC Shadow in the teams’ second matchup of the season. Even though the final score didn’t necessarily reflect it, the game featured a slew of highlight plays as two of the top teams in the league duked it out. The reason for the 13-7 home win, then? Shadow simply played better in the pouring rain and remained undefeated at the top of the South Division.

It was a brawl between regional rivals Nashville Nightshade and Atlanta Soul as they faced off in the PUL’s game of the week, with hosts Nightshade emerging 17-15 winners. From the get-go, the offensive flow for both teams was fast-moving and they played close, but thanks to a block by Melissa Gronske and a catch by Emily Branson, Nashville broke to end the first quarter and tie things up 4-4. Nightshade maintained their advantage from there, with Tori Taylor, Rebecca Henley, and Margie Quinn among Nashville’s key contributors. Taylor in particular was immense, seemingly involved on nearly every Nightshade score.

As for Soul, their offense was plagued by inconsistency, with unforced errors preventing them from really getting back into the game until the end, when they nearly closed a five-point fourth-quarter deficit. Mia Griner was a big playmaker for Atlanta, including an astounding layout for a score in the second quarter, and was joined by the likes of Liv Ford and Morgan Lally as some of the key contributors when Soul tried to make a late comeback. Unfortunately for Atlanta, it was just too little too late as Nashville claimed their first win of the season.

Looking Ahead In The PUL

Following a Week Six league-wide midseason bye, the PUL roars back into action in Week Seven with a six game slate involving all eleven teams. The highlight matchup is a clash between the two remaining undefeated teams in the North Division as Philly travels to face New York in a top-spot showdown. Out of the South Division, a still undefeated DC squad heads north to take on Portland in a cross-divisional matchup, with Minnesota heading southeast to Raleigh in the weekend’s other cross-division game. The rest of the matchups on the weekend are in-division as Austin goes back-to-back on the road against Atlanta and Nashville, and Milwaukee hosts Indy for their home opener.

PUL Power Rankings:
Rank Team Change Prior
1 - 1
2 - 2
3 +1 4
4 -1 3
5 +1 6
6 -1 5
7 +1 8
8 -1 7
9 - 9
10 - 10
11 - 11

Discussion

  • The PUL continues to have minimal shuffling in the middle of the rankings as teams have largely sorted themselves out ahead of the back end of the season.
  • Arguably the most notable shift is New York moving into the top three for the first time all season as they join fellow undefeated teams DC and Philly at the top of the leaderboard.
  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.

TAGGED: , , , ,

TEAMS: , , , , , , , , , , ,

More from Ultiworld
Comments on "WUL/PUL Update: WUL Champ Weekend Qualifiers, PUL Southern Showdown"

Find us on Twitter

Recent Comments

Find us on Facebook

Subscriber Exclusives

  • D-I College Championships 2024: Final Box Scores
    Subscriber article
  • [Showcase] France vs. TOKAY Superteam (Mixed Final)
    Video for standard subscribers
  • [Showcase] United States vs. Clapham (Open Final)
    Video for standard subscribers
  • [Showcase] Grut vs. Jinx Midnight (Women’s Final)
    Video for standard subscribers