D-I College Championships 2024: Pool Previews (Women’s Div.)

Get to know the 20 teams competing for a D-I college title!

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

The D-I College Championships start on Friday! After a long regular season, the deepest field in recent memory is ready to challenge for the title. UNC are chasing a historic four-peat, while Colorado, UBC, and Vermont look to get over the hump after coming up just short last year. With tournament newcomers, dark horses, pool play intrigue, and a few more title contenders, the long weekend is sure to bring the thrills.

We’ve got you covered for all the exciting action this weekend, but before the first pull goes up, let’s get to know the teams who will be competing in Madison. You can follow along on the D-I College Championships event page for updates and livestreams throughout the weekend!

Pool A

Teams: No.1 UBC, No.8 Tufts, No.12 Victoria, No.13 UC San Diego, No.17 Colorado State
Overall Strength: 💪💪
Star Power: ⭐⭐⭐
Upset Alert: 🚨🚨🚨🚨

UBC Thunderbirds’ Mika Kurahashi at the 2024 Northwest Challenge. Photo: Emma Ottosen – UltiPhotos.com

UBC Thunderbirds

After a lackluster1 end to their season last year, #4 UBC Thunderbirds are on top of the tournament’s seeding and primed for a title run. They boast a near-perfect record from the regular season with the only demerit being a universe point loss to Vermont in a game that could’ve gone either way.

After coming so close last year, their sights are set on Championship Monday — and they have the talent and the depth to make it happen. Between Mika Kurahashi, Anna Goddu, Helena Tremblay, Avery Lee-Pii, Miu Shiraiwa, and Megan Gillis, the Thunderbirds’ downfield is absolutely loaded with Team Canada talent.

The question surrounding the Thunderbirds has been can they handle the pressure that comes with a stadium environment? This year their preparation has been focused on preparing themselves for that pressure, from sports psychology sessions to playing showcase games in stadiums. “One of our goals was to make sure we were prioritizing giving ourselves good games,” said Kurahashi. “We were able to accomplish that better this year than last year.”

Furthermore, their strong regular season performance earned them the one seed, which comes with an easier path to semis. Even with star handler Madi Ong’s ability to take the field in question,2 UBC have more than enough firepower to make it to Championship Monday.

 

Tufts EWO

A team that graduated the likes of Olivia Goss and Hazel Ostrowski last year could be forgiven for easing up and taking a season to rebuild. But that’s not what EWO have done. Instead, they’re back in contention for another bracket run after earning a pool two-seed.

To be clear, even with those personnel losses, Tufts’ top end is still world-class, albeit while stepping into slightly different roles this season. Lia Schwartz has inherited the center handler position with aplomb, and Edi Lam and Emily Kemp — forces to be reckoned with downfield — are spending more time around the disc.

“My job was to just pretty much go deep the last two seasons,” said Kemp. “[This year] we’re all kind of going with the flow and learning as we go. Nationals should be a good culmination of that.” 

In the midst of all that growing, EWO built a strong regular season, including winning Commonwealth Cup over a solid Michigan team. Their close games against top-five teams, including a universe point loss against North Carolina, are good for confidence going into the tournament, too. “That’s something that will pump us up,” said captain Ryanne Barrett. “We know we can hang with them.”

However, to hang with and to beat are two different things. A bracket spot is all but assured if Tufts can take care of business in pool play — and given their resume, they have the horses to do so. The real challenge will be to prove their mettle against the division’s very best.

 

Victoria Vikes

The Vikes are back and better than ever – literally! This time around, they’ve got a pool 3-seed and a whopping 21-person roster to boot.

Last year’s squad made it to Nationals with far fewer, but it goes without saying that having 31% more bodies has been one of the driving forces for the Vikes’ quality resume this season. “Having more than sixteen people coming to every tournament has been very nice,” said captain Brynn Freeland. It shows: Victoria racked up some good results, beating Northwest rival Western Washington twice in the span of a month and knocking off Washington at Cascadia Conferences. Those wins provide good momentum and a confidence boost going into the tournament.

“I’m really excited to see us go into the tournament with a deeper roster,” said captain Mackenzie Dawson. “I feel like we have potential. I’m just really excited to see the comparison of how we performed this year versus last year.”

Unfortunately, not all of that massive3 roster will be present at Nationals. Two high-impact players, Mari Nielsen and Arabella Brudney, won’t be taking the field due to scheduling conflicts and injury, respectively. However, the Vikes will have Callahan nominee and team glue player Alicia Brolly to lean on. “Having Ali back for the sixth year is kind of game-changing for us,” said Dawson.

All told, the Vikes are in a good position to surpass last year’s one-win Nationals performance, and they have a shot to make the bracket for the first time in a decade if they can hold seed. It’ll be no small feat to get past the crowd at the bottom of the pool — Colorado State are solid and UC San Diego are on their heels in the rankings — but the Vikes might just have the legs to do it.

 

UC San Diego Dragon Coalition

It’s been a journey, but the storied UCSD program is back at Nationals. After missing out last year, D-Co’s season began in ignominious fashion — they went 1-4 at Santa Barbara Invite — and it wasn’t clear if D-Co would be able to right the ship soon enough.

“It took some time to figure out what our team goals were,” said captain and Callahan nominee Emma Ellefson-Frank.

It seems like they’ve figured it out. After that tournament, D-Co’s season took a 180-degree turn for the better. They made runs to the semis of Presidents’ Day, the quarters of Stanford invite, and claimed the second bid out of the Southwest, earning them the program’s 13th Nationals appearance. It’s quite the turnaround, and it all started with those less-than-ideal SBI results.

“It made our team really, really cohesive,” said Ellefson-Frank. “We want to go out and show our best and be competitive and keep the UCSD program competitive because it has been in years past, and carry on that tradition.”

Apart from attending Nationals, D-Co’s other tradition is producing college ultimate stars. They’ve got one in Abbi Shilts, a do-everything player who makes for appointment viewing. Behind her are stud rookie handler Margot Nissen and a solid cast of contributors including Emma Smith and Xuan Feldman.

The bracket isn’t out of the question for this squad if Shilts has a big game and Victoria stumbles without a few of their key contributors. This season, they’ve certainly shown the requisite resilience and grit.

 

Colorado State Hell’s Belles

Following last year’s run to the bracket, Colorado State will look to steal a few games from the bottom of the pool and get back to prequarters in their third straight Nationals appearance. After a hairy point-differential pool play finish in 2023, the Hell’s Belles are looking forward to the freedom that comes with five-seed expectations.

“We think that those [games against UCSD and Victoria] are games that we can win, so we’re going in with that attitude,” said captain Grace Brown. “We have nothing to lose.”

That’s an attitude that will make them dangerous, especially given their talent and experience. Brown and Callahan nominee Willow Purvis have acquired somewhat of a reputation as CSU’s dynamic duo, but they’re just the beginning. Char Bokhof, Cice Kim, and center handler Grace Goldenberg are also major contributors on a roster that graduated only two members last year. In the college division, where constant turnover is table stakes, that continuity is huge.

The experience up and down the roster no doubt contributed to CSU’s regular-season success. The Belles took home the Centex crown, beating Utah in the process, and played Oregon within two points at Presidents’ Day Invite. Facing a UCSD team that took their lumps in the regular season and a Victoria team missing a few pieces, Colorado State find themselves in possession of just about all the ingredients needed for an upset or two.

 

Pool B

Teams: No.2 Vermont, No.7 Colorado, No.11 Michigan, No.14 Western Washington, No.18 Georgia
Overall Strength: 💪💪💪
Star Power: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Upset Alert: 🚨🚨

Vermont’s Sophie Acker celebrates catching the game winner against UNC in the 2024 East Coast Invite final. Photo: Jeremy Smeltzer – j.j.photography302

Vermont Ruckus

Could this be the year Ruckus complete their narrative arc? “Complete” feels like the right word; their trajectory over the last four years as a program has been a methodical and steady march to the upper echelons of the division. Every year they’ve set a new standard, notching more impressive wins and better and better finishes in each subsequent Nationals since their run started in 2021. This year, it’s more of the same. Their only loss came in February, and since then they’ve beaten UBC once and North Carolina twice, getting revenge for their semis blowout last year.

Returning most of that team’s all-star cast is a big part of that success. Goal-scoring machine Sophie Acker will miss Nationals after a Regionals injury, but there’s a veritable army behind her. Kennedy McCarthy, Emily Pozzy, and Caroline Stone are among the division’s elite and have big-game experience, and the play of their blue-blood high school recruits (including New England ROTY Ella Monaghan) has belied their youth so far.

Though the personnel is largely the same as last year’s semis team, the on-field product has been retooled and refined. They still make big plays, but don’t expect quite the same attitude with the disc they displayed in last year’s tournament.  “We’ve shifted [away] from ‘Vermont ball,’ schmeat, hangers into doubles,” said Caroline Stone. “We’re just playing so much more patient offense.”

That’s a scary thought for the rest of the division. A team this talented, this experienced, and this successful can only really be stopped when they take part in beating themselves — something they’re doing less and less of these days. Barring some serious stumbles (like underperforming against Colorado in pool play) they can play to not-lose and make it to semis. Then, under the lights, Ruckus will have their chance to win their storybook ending.

Colorado Quandary

The two-time finalists come into College Nationals in an unfamiliar position: not being a pool 1-seed. But that shouldn’t faze the team from Boulder, whose ability to lock in when it counts is up there with the best of teams. Captain and Callahan nominee Clil Phillips said, “We’re seeded seventh – that’s a pretty good number. No matter what teams we’re with, the top teams are good. It doesn’t matter who you’re placed with.”

In addition to their championship aspirations, this year has been a rebuilding year for Quandary with folks taking on new roles. Sarah Laughlin and Faye Burdick, in particular, have stepped up in big ways for Quandary. They also have veterans Clil Phillips, Nori Catalano, Stacy Gaskill, and Abbie Gillach anchoring the team.

For outside observers, Quandary’s attitude may seem a little casual for a team with championship hopes. But for them, it is how they play their best. Captains Sierra Petrash and Clil Phillips say, “Coming in with a good outlook and having fun, that will help us play our best. In the past, we have come into the game [against top teams] nervous or scared… our goal is to play our game the way we know how to play i.e. having fun.” Between their big game experience, veteran coaching staff, and deep roster are all ingredients for success at Nationals, no one should count them out of title contention.

 

Michigan Flywheel

Returning to Nationals for the first time since 2021, Flywheel are back and ready to compete. Their journey back to the Show™ over the course of these few springs has been one of ups and downs, but this season it has only been up. As we’ve written before, the theme for the season has been continual growth for Michigan Flywheel.

Their season began with a rocky showing at Queen City Tune Up with losses to Georgia, Carleton, and UNC. But they were able to rebound later in the season and defeat Georgia handedly at Commonwealth Cup as well as play within four to UNC at ECI. Captain and star cutter Kat McGuire credits the coaching staff with their continued success. “They’ve put in a lot of work in identifying areas to improve and planning those practices,” she said.

Coming into Nationals, Flywheel are excited to compete with the best teams in the country and play against teams that they didn’t get to see in the regular season. Sophie Harvey and Calliope Cutchins are two young players to watch for Michigan. Harvey is a goal scoring machine and Cutchins has stepped into the center O-line handler spot with ease.

The path to the bracket in Pool B is hard, but expect Flywheel to rise to the challenge. Their rematch against Georgia, who they are 1-1 with, will be a matchup to watch. But Flywheel have the talent and depth to challenge even Vermont and Colorado.

 

Western Washington Chaos

One of the many teams out of the Evil Empire™, Western Washington’s put the division on notice with ttheir shocking upset of UBC at regionals. This win is even more impressive considering two weeks before, they lost to UBC 15-5 and got bageled by them at Northwest Challenge.

The obvious question that comes to mind: which version of Chaos is the real one? If they can beat the 1-seed, how much higher can they climb if they can maintain that level of play? In addition to that close result, Western Washington have also played within two points of Colorado and Oregon at regular season events. Nevertheless, their results have yielded a mixed bag, losing double game point games to teams of a comparable level (their game against Victoria at regionals comes to mind).

Their handlers are skilled wind throwers, so the expected windy conditions in Madison should bode well for them. Amaya Krutsinger and Alexa Jeantette-Coca are players to watch. If everyone can step up again they way they did on Saturday of Regionals, Chaos even have an outside shot of equalling their best ever finish: a tie for fifth-place in 2019. It’s a long shot, yes, but it’s actually on the table – a notion we might not have entertained a month ago.

 

Georgia Athena

The women’s division is stacked this year, a statement illustrated perfectly by Georgia’s being a bottom seed in the pool. To say Georgia’s roster is talented is an understatement. Quincy Booth might be a top three thrower in the division – and not number two or three, either. Senior captain and Callahan nominee Fiona Cashin can beat any defender to the front cone and generate blocks against the best teams.

Nevertheless, their regular season was spent developing players and making sure everyone got solid minutes. In particular, their focus has been on person defense as they were a zone heavy team last year. They’ve also had an increased level of buy-in this year, where players are dedicated to working out and getting better for the team.

“We’ve been doing a lot of cross-training through UGA, in addition to practicing in the heat,” said Cashin. Mia Bongcaron, Ellison Martin, Julia Johnson, Addie Hale, and Sarah Lang have all stepped up to bring Georgia some much needed depth.

At times this season, Georgia have had some flat or outright bad performances against teams in similar tiers, such as their loss to Michigan at Commonwealth Cup. On the flipside, Georgia have also shown the ability to turn around a bad half even in tough conditions. Take, for example, their win against Notre Dame at Commonwealth Cup,4 where they scored four straight. The tournament format may help ease the low-lows, maybe due to fatigue, of Athena’s play, with only two games a day with big breaks in between. If Athena can get hot, they could easily make a run to the bracket.

 

Pool C

Teams: No.3 Carleton, No.6 Stanford, No.10 Washington, No.15 Pennsylvania, No.19 Utah
Overall Strength: 💪💪💪💪
Star Power: ⭐⭐⭐
Upset Alert: 🚨🚨🚨🚨

Carleton's Shanti Chier and Audrey Parrott celebrate at the ultimate frisbee tournament, the 2024 Northwest Challenge. Photo: Sam Hotaling - UltiPhotos.com
Carleton’s Shanti Chier and Audrey Parrott celebrate at the 2024 Northwest Challenge. Photo: Sam Hotaling – UltiPhotos.com

Carleton Syzygy

It was national news5 when Syzygy, the last team to beat North Carolina before their record-breaking winning streak, ended it this spring by beating them in poetic fashion. Is it fate that they take the place of the three-time champions by winning a title of their own?

Carleton certainly have the firepower to compete for a championship. Syzygy, as always, are headlined by some of the division’s premier talent: Mia Beeman-Weber is as rock-solid a backfield anchor as they come, and Aria Kischner, Tori Gray, and Naomi Fina are terrors downfield. From the ever-fruitful Seattle pipeline they’ve added players like Chagall Gelfand, who immediately made her impact felt behind the disc this year.

The team has built a semis resume, beating Vermont and Stanford in the early season. A bad Northwest Challenge final loss to UBC sticks out, but who wouldn’t be a little emotional after that UNC win?

But for an ultimate dynasty and Nationals mainstay like Syzygy, talent or regular season success has never been the issue. It’s been a story of “close but not quite” for essentially the entirety of the program’s existence: Syz are 14-time semifinalists with only one title. That’s a lot of history to overcome. But Carleton don’t plan to spend much time wrapped up in the weight of expectations.

“We play better when we’re goofy,” said Kischner. “It builds. When we have good energy, we play well, and when we’re playing well people get more hyped and we build even more.”

They’ll need to channel that energy, since Stanford won’t be an easy out and a volatile Washington could prove dangerous. But if Carleton play their best game this weekend, they have as good a chance as ever to add a long-awaited second ring to the program’s trophy case.

 

Stanford Superfly

Nearly every year, the narrative is the same: Stanford, no matter their regular season results, are not a team you want to face at Nationals. Perennially, they’re one of the most well-coached, well-prepared, and dangerous teams at the tournament.

That said, the regular season was a little more up-and-down than expected for this very stacked Superfly side. Injuries and general personnel availability meant that a lot of veterans weren’t steady contributors throughout the spring. It showed, with some unexpected losses and tight games at Santa Barbara Invite and dropping a midseason game to poolmates Washington.

“Being a little bit short-staffed and having to navigate different players stepping up into different roles has been difficult for us,” said Amelia Hawkins. “But it’s also a really great way of showing the depth of our roster.”

The Superfly roster is definitely a deep one, headlined by a captain trio of Macy Vollbrecht, Esther Filipek, and Anna Fisher Lopez. Hawkins and 2023 BPOTY Sage McGinley-Smith add additional firepower, and the addition of a plug-and-play rookie like Harper Baer behind the disc doesn’t hurt.

The challenge for ‘Fly, then, is for those pieces to gel in their positions at the right time. They’ll need to, because in a sense they’re between a rock and a hard place. From the pool two-slot they look up at Carleton — who they haven’t beaten since 2018 — and down at Washington — who they lost to in March. But as always, Stanford plan to bring their full strength to bear.

“We’re really hoping to use the full depth of our roster and all the strategy tools and our amazing coaches that we have in our pocket,” said Hawkins.

If they do, the sky is really the limit for ‘Fly.

 

Washington Element

What to make of this Element team? It’s been a spring of oscillating between high highs (like knocking off Stanford) and low lows (see their loss to Pittsburgh and blowout at the hands of Oregon at Regionals). Looking purely at results, it’s not clear where Washington’s ceiling is exactly.

What is clear is that they have top-end talent. Callahan nominee Sophia Palmer headlines Element’s captain core, which also includes Savanna Tucker and Megan Louie. Lucy Tanner and Anna Cauchy provide additional experience. All of those folks have had to step into new roles after losing nearly 53% of their offense from last year. They’re bolstered by a developing supporting class, including Northwest honorable mention rookie Lauren Goddu. Overall, it’s a relatively young team, and they’ve shown some understandable wobbles.

“We’re a very energy-based team,” said captain Megan Louie. “When we come out with a first break, that really sets the tone for us.”

They’ll need those early breaks and that energy this weekend. If they can play at their peak for two halves, they could truly beat any team and make it back to quarters. That starts in pool play — and Element has beaten Stanford once already this year.

“It’s just gonna be a matter of who wants it more when we play them,” said Palmer.

On the other hand, if they drop another clunker, Pennsylvania could prove dangerous. Only time will tell which version of Element will show up this weekend.

 

Pennsylvania Venus

Long time no see, Venus! The team attended Nationals twice in the last two decades, so it’s not a first for this Pennsylvania program, but it is another historic accomplishment to add to the list for the season.

The first item on that list, of course, is winning the Ohio Valley for the first time since the region itself was created in 2009.6 After a universe point Regionals loss ended their season last year, Venus beat longtime OV stalwarts Ohio State and Pittsburgh back-to-back to claim the Regional crown and book their ticket to Nationals.

“When we we won, it didn’t really feel real,” said captain Chaily Derecskey.

Speaking of real: Ohio Valley Rookie of the Year Grace Maroon is the real deal, often looking like the most explosive player on the field in her rookie season. Balancing out her firecracker play, Venus’ trio of veteran captains — Deresky, Caroline Bach, and Callahan nominee and All-Region selection Dagny Lott — provide a little stability on and off the field.

In the regular season, Penn proved they can have success against Nationals-level teams, including beating Georgia at Queen City and playing close games against Tufts and Michigan. Pool C is a tough one to get out of, but if Venus do make history this weekend, it won’t be the first time this year they’ve done so.

 

Utah Spiral Jetty

Welcome to the Big Show, Spiral Jetty! After BYU’s Nationals window closed, it was Utah who did enough to claim the final bid out of the Northwest in their stead and make their first Nationals appearance in program history.

Consider Utah’s presence this weekend a fluke at your own peril: they’ve been competitive against Nationals-level teams all season. Their very first game this spring was a win against UCSD, and at Centex, they were three points away from winning their pool, and two points away from taking down Colorado State in the quarterfinal. And in the Northwest, they clearly belonged in the company of the bid-earning group. All told, they spent six weeks in our top 25, peaking at 19th in the Power Rankings.

A lot of that success is driven by 2024 WUC tryoutee and captain Carly Atwell, a bona fide star behind the disc, and rookie handler Lily Terpstra, her counterpart in the backfield. They have a solid supporting cast in Sadie Cutler, Morgan Williams, and Elanor Wachdel too. But it’s not just the seven on the field who make a difference for Spiral Jetty.

“I’m excited for people to see our sideline at Nationals,” said Atwell. “We think we have one of the best in the nation. I’m very excited for people to see that and for us to be able to have a great time on such a large scale.”

Who knows how far that energy could carry them — after all, it’s carried them to Nationals.

 

Pool D

Teams: No.4 North Carolina, No.5 Oregon, No.9 UC Santa Barbara, No.16 UC Santa Cruz, No.20 SUNY Binghamton
Overall Strength: 💪💪💪💪
Star Power: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Upset Alert: 🚨🚨🚨🚨

UNC's Theresa Yu readies a flick at the 2024 Northwest Challenge. Photo: Sam Hotaling - UltiPhotos.com
UNC’s Theresa Yu readies a flick at the 2024 Northwest Challenge. Photo: Sam Hotaling – UltiPhotos.com

North Carolina Pleiades

For a team that hadn’t lost a sanctioned college game in three seasons, taking three losses and coming into Nationals seeded fourth might seem like a disappointment. On the contrary, the losses might’ve made UNC Pleiades stronger. According to sophomore Martha Plaehn, “The streak was played up to be this thing. And we are always going to show up and play our best, but we never expected to go undefeated. We were aware of the streak, but [only] because we heard it from outside sources.”

Against the other top three seeds, their record is 1-3 with two losses to Vermont and a split record against Carleton. While these results don’t paint Pleiades as the overwhelming favorite, you should not count them out. Their big game experience, depth of roster, and elite coaching staff are enough to keep them in the fight with the best of teams.

Expect Dawn Culton to be all over the field for Pleiades. In her final year of college ultimate,7 Culton remains the most feared defender in the division, usually leading the Pleiades D-line with her powerful cutting and much improved deep throws. All-Region selection Jessica Wu and standout freshman Bella Russell join Culton on the D-line. In addition, Erica Birdsong continues to dominate downfield, while Theresa Yu, Emily Przykucki, and Allison Reilly anchor the backfield. Sarah Combs has also been having a heater of a season for Pleiades – the past three years she’s been a dynamic defender, but this season she’s taken on a new role for Pleiades on their O-line as a speedy cutter.

Will this year result in a fourth consecutive championship for Pleiades? Only time will tell. But are they ready to fight for it? Absolutely.

 

Oregon Fugue

If you are picking title contenders for next year, Oregon better be on your list – but I’m getting ahead of myself. Fugue enter this tournament with a talented roster of folks ready to play right now. They are coming off a great regular season, including a tournament win at Presidents’ Day Invite over Stanford Superfly. They have focused on growing and developing their talented roster. In particular, they have expanded their defensive looks and honed in on their person defense.

One demerit against this Fugue team was their blowout loss against top-three team Carleton Syzygy at Northwest Challenge, and generally they have yet to beat a top four team. “A huge thing we’ve been working on, especially after the Northwest Challenge, has been mental toughness,” said captain Eliana Norton. “We’ve done a ton of sports psych, especially after that loss to Carleton. Recognizing that we were playing scared and working on it’s-just-a-name mentality [for big games].”

Fugue know they have the talent this year to go all the way. Luckily, they get a crack at a top-four team in UNC on the first day of Nationals as a tune-up for the bracket. It feels like a win-win for Fugue. If they can pull out a win, that will certainly send a message to the division that they are ready to win a title and give them a great boost of confidence. If they lose, they will have gotten tested by one of the division’s best in a way that could show them the path to quick improvement.

Household names Trout Weybright and Syris Linkfield lead Fugue. But they are also supported by a talented ensemble cast. Transfer Acacia Hahn has fit right into the backfield for Fugue, along with Callahan nominee Norton. Michiko Magnant, Thalia Tzetos, and Julia Berard are all folks to keep your eyes on downfield.

While this might not be the year for a title (or maybe it is?), they are building that big game experience. A deep run into the bracket is very much in the cards.

 

UC Santa Barbara Burning Skirts

Perennial8 qualifiers UCSB Burning Skirts are back for another run at Nationals. Aside from a tough showing at Santa Barbara Invite, the Burning Skirts have had a good regular season, only taking losses to teams within the top six. In particular, they played Stanford to universe point in their regional final. Callahan nominee Julia Hasbrook continues to anchor the backfield, with a flick huck that rivals the best in the world. Cutter Devin Quinn is often the target for the absolute rockets that are Julia Hasbrook’s hucks, and even if they are not perfect, Quinn will probably catch them. Laura Blume is a do-it-all dynamic hybrid for the Burning Skirts with the speed to get open against the division’s best defenders. 

While a finals appearance would be amazing, the goal for the Burning Skirts at nationals is “to be the best version of themselves. . . and rely on the systems that have gotten them this far,” said captain Vienna Lee. Namely, they will rely on their gritty person defense and contributions from up and down their roster. Daisy Kusper, Katrina Sata, Ella Khoury, and Gabby Lang have all stepped up for the Burning Skirts this season. 

Expect the Burning Skirts to bring their namesake heat on both sides of the disc. If they can get hot, a quarters appearance is certainly possible.

 

UC Santa Cruz Sol

This season is a season of firsts for UC Santa Cruz. It’s the first time they have ever made cuts to their roster and their first Nationals appearance in over thirty years. This year and this appearance is the culmination of three years of work from Coach Nick Tolfa, the team’s second- and third-year players, and all of the people who paved the way for them. “When I started coaching Sol, almost the entire team was freshman, now they’re all becoming juniors,” said Tolfa.

Coming into the season, their goal was explicitly to make Nationals, which meant prioritizing competition in the regular season in order to earn a bid. Now that they have made it, they view this tournament as a celebration for their program and all the folks who have put in work the past few seasons. However, they are also there to compete. Rachel Chang is one of the best throwers in the division as just a freshman. In addition, Ruby Sutherlin Sovern is a veteran handler and leader for the team, while Prunella Crombie Presberg is the only senior on the team and a reliable backfield presence.

When asked about their mindset going into the tournament, Coach Tolfa said, “We are going in understanding we are big underdogs and hoping to out punch their weight class. Pull off an upset and crash into the bracket.” They pride themselves on being a scrappy team and in the wind that is expected, anything can happen! Regardless of outcome, this will be a great learning experience for a young squad and stay on the lookout for them in coming seasons as they will return almost everyone.

 

SUNY Binghamton Big Bear

After coming out on top of the hotly contested Metro East Region, SUNY-Binghamton are ready to make another run at Nationals. After missing out on the bracket last year due to point differential, Big Bear are ready to take the next step into prequarters. In order to do that they need contributions from up and down the roster – the electric play of Jolie Krebs can only take them so far. In particular, look to Danielle Dattler, Melissa Torchio, and Emily Cook to contribute on offense and defense. Given the lack of connectivity between regions, they have honed in on their strategic versatility and unpredictability with the hopes of upsetting the teams above them.

In order to get ready for those hard games at nationals, Big Bear prioritized high-level competition in the regular season, even if it meant taking losses. Pre-nationals they also started utilizing film sessions and scouting before games, hopefully that will give them the boost they need to make it to the bracket.

“We are super excited to be able to represent the Metro East for the fourth time and we want to make sure we are delivering on [the high level of play] and bringing the intensity that is expected at a national tournament,” said Torchio. “I know that there is a notion that the Metro East is a weaker region, but we have been working really hard to be able to prove that we can compete at this level.”


  1. Bowing out in semis is only lackluster considering the T-Birds’ talent 

  2. There are reports she suffered an injury at TEP with Team Canada a couple weeks ago. 

  3. /s 

  4. In the freezing cold and 15 mph wind 

  5. In the ultimate community, anyway 

  6. Before that, Penn didn’t win the Metro East anytime in the last two decades either, as far as I can tell. 

  7. Some might breathe a sigh of relief at that news 

  8. Six straight, including this season 

  1. Bridget Mizener
    Bridget Mizener

    Bridget Mizener is a Midwesterner by birth, but a product of the North Carolina ultimate machine. She thinks women’s college ultimate coverage is important, so she’s taking it into her own hands. She lives, plays, coaches, etc. in Durham. Tell her everything she got wrong about your team at [email protected].

  2. Grace Conerly
    Grace Conerly

    Grace has played frisbee for 9+ years. She's won some stuff and lost some stuff at various levels. Her most notable accomplishment is winning Triangle Ultimate’s indoor recreational winter league, 2019.

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