WUL/PUL Update: NY Tops Philly; WULCW Field Set

Utah booked their ticket to Championship Weekend with one-point victory, and New York came out ahead of Philadelphia in a battle of the North Division's best

The Bay Area Falcons celebrating a postseason berth after the 2024 Western Ultimate League regular season. Photo: Ron Sellers

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

WUL Week Nine

Utah Utopia, Bay Area Best In Southwest

The final weekend of the 2024 WUL regular season was a decisive one. In the Northwest Conference, Utah Wild held on at home against Colorado Alpenglow 19-18 to advance to Championship Weekend and knock out two-time defending champs Seattle Tempest. At the same time, the Bay Area Falcons went on the road for a Southwest Conference double-header finale and won both games to secure top spot in the Conference.

It was tense in the end as Utah squeaked by Colorado at home to secure their place at Championship Weekend, but the Wild actually opened their regular season finale as much the better team. They jumped out to an early 4-1 lead buoyed by the home crowd, though Alpenglow were able to slowly work their way back into the game after going down 7-4 in the opening quarter. Stacy Gaskill and Abbie Davis were the primary finishers for Utah, with the two collegiate standouts putting up 4G/2A/1D and 5G/2D statlines, respectively. 

To Colorado’s credit, despite having already staked their claim to Championship Weekend spot in Week Eight, they fought back well after falling into that initial hole. Ari Nelson threw an astounding eight assists as they tied Sadie Jezierski for the most in a single game, and Sarah Itoh (4G/1D), Abby Thorpe (4G/2A/1D), and Rory Veldman (3G/1D) helped ensure Nelson and company had plenty of targets downfield. Even with their efforts, however, Utah did enough to keep Colorado from ever taking the lead, and a final possession score from Lily Terpstra to Sarah Staller got the Wild over the finish line.

While the Southwest’s Championship Weekend attendees had already been decided with the Bay Area’s dominant win over the Arizona Sidewinders in Week Eight, there was still a question of who would take the top seed between the Falcons and San Diego Super Bloom. However, after the Falcons sneaked by Arizona 12-11 in game one of their road back-to-back, the Bay Area’s best left little doubt with a runaway second half as they beat San Diego 22-17.

With Arizona already eliminated, Saturday’s game had no impact on the standings, but the Sidewinders still nearly got revenge on the Falcons after that Week Eight loss. Melissa Dunn (2G/1A/2D for +5) was the snakes’ standout contributor as Arizona got contributions from across their roster, but another balanced performance from the Bay Area kept their winning streak alive. A 3-0 third quarter run turned an 8-7 Sidewinders advantage into a 10-8 Falcons lead, and the visitors kept their hosts at bay from there.

The Bay Area’s margins were similarly slim early against San Diego, but the Falcons eventually pulled away as they led wire-to-wire to comprehensively claim the top spot in the Southwest. Playing without Kaela Helton, Super Bloom had to have other players step up if they were to reverse the result from the last time they faced the Falcons. They did in spades, as Kelli Iwamoto (1G/5A/3D), Meredith Byl (5G/2D), Kristen Pojunis (1G/4A/2D), and Rebeca Ellis (4G/1A/2D) all had outstanding games. The problem for San Diego, of course, was the depth of talent that the Bay Area could deploy, and after the halftime break it was basically all Falcons the rest of the way. Kara Hammer (2G/4A) and Eliza Chang (4A) were the visitor’s leading assist throwers, while Sarah Carnahan (3G/1A), Allie Tsuji (3G/1D), and Lexi Zalk (3G) led the Falcons’ finishers. As was the case in their first matchup, the Bay Area simply had too much depth of talent for San Diego to deny, and as a result it is the Falcons who finish with the league’s best record at 5-1 and who claim the Southwest Conference crown this season.

Looking Ahead In The WUL

All that’s left in the 2024 WUL season is Championship Weekend, taking place in Colorado this upcoming weekend June 1-2. The semifinals will see cross-conference matchups in both games, with the winners advancing to the final and the losers playing for third. From the Southwest, the Bay Area advanced as the top seeds with a 5-1 record and will take on Utah as the second seed from the Northwest. In the other game, Northwest winners Colorado will face San Diego, whose loss to the Bay Area in the final weekend of the regular season dropped them to second in the conference.

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

Discussion

  • No reason to move the Bay Area off the top spot after their spotless road trip to Arizona and San Diego. Super Bloom stay second courtesy of their stronger season results and undefeated record against teams not named the Falcons.
  • It took a final possession goal, but Utah did just enough to eke out a win over Colorado and earn themselves a trip to Championship Weekend. The late head-to-head victory bumps Wild up a spot, while Seattle and Arizona stay bottom as they finish on the outside looking in.

PUL Week Seven

New York Knock Off Philly, Torch’s Tumultuous Road Trip

In a jam-packed week full of games, the PUL saw a lot of action, with some of the closest scores yet across the board.

Finally playing their home opener, Milwaukee Monarchs stuck close with Indy Red throughout the entirety of the game. In fact, the score was tied up at almost every point. Near the end of the third, Red secured a break to go up 14-12, but thanks to an onside pull – where Monarchs “pulled” the disc to the front of their defending end zone, prestalled, and gained the final possession of the quarter, with under one minute on the clock – Milwaukee tied the score back up. The two teams stayed tied until the very end of the game, where Red broke twice to win 19-16.

In a game with a similar trajectory, Raleigh Radiance faced off against Minnesota Strike, where, despite the lead switching up several times and two breaks in the first half, the scores remained within one, with each team holding through the game. Strike held the slim lead for the majority of the game. That is, until Radiance got a block near their end zone with a minute and a half left in the game, and Strike’s O-line could not score fast enough to eliminate the two-point deficit. Radiance won 17-15.

In the last North Division game of the weekend, Philadelphia Surge took on New York Gridlock 20-15 for a battle for the division’s top spot. From the start, Gridlock led by several breaks with some of their top players, such as Manuela Cardenas and Jolie Krebs, making waves to punch in conversions. Their O-line was a well-oiled machine and did not make their first mistake until the start of the second quarter. This mistake cost them, as Surge took advantage of their chance to score their first and second breaks of the game. However, even though Surge tied up the score, they could not stop Gridlock from going on a four-point run, with an unstoppable offense led by the Cardenas sisters immediately following Surge’s two breaks. The Philly team cleaned things up and stopped the bleeding in the second half, but it was too late; they could not slow down the Gridlock offense in enough time to force any more mistakes.

In the south side of the league, DC Shadow took on Portland Rising, which, due to the caliber of the matchup, seemed it would produce a close score. This predication appeared true at the beginning of the game, when Rising started things out by clocking two breaks in a row to go up 2-0. However, if we’ve learned anything from this season, it’s to not underestimate the strength of the team from Washington DC. They went on a 10-1 run to kick off their scoring and did not let their feet off the gas pedal after that, winning decisively 17-10.

In a doubleheader, Austin Torch traveled to Atlanta Soul and Nashville Nightshade. Soul’s Quincy Booth ripped a lefty hammer to secure their first break of the game, and after that the action was afoot. Despite some errors on either side, the teams’ D-line offenses could not convert the mistakes into breaks, and the score remained close. Things did not get better for Torch when a storm caused an hour-and-a-half-long lightning delay and Soul gained a three-point lead coming out of the long break, capped off by a second-effort layout catch by Mia Griner to score. They quickly capitalized on the momentum to go up 15-10, and while Torch got a hold and two breaks back, they could not force a tie in the remaining 1:30 minutes left in the game. With a final score of 15-13, Soul won their first game since 2019. Torch then traveled to Nashville, where they came out with a cleaner game against Nightshade, minimizing turns and taking advantage of practically every scoring opportunity. Nashville could not keep up, and Torch took a 19-13 win.

PUL Week Eight

Monarchs’ Madison Magic

With the D-I College Championships happening over Memorial Day weekend in Madison, Wisconsin, the PUL followed suit, with the Milwaukee Monarchs hosting the Atlanta Soul in Madison and emerging with their first win of the season, 17-9. The Monarchs got contributions from across their roster, with Sydney French leading Milwaukee’s downfield attack with four goals and nearly 200 receiving yards, while Penny Wu took charge in the backfield to the tune of four assists and an incredible 420 throwing yards. Atlanta’s offense couldn’t quite find their footing after a solid first quarter showing, and a 7-1 surge from Milwaukee in the second quarter sealed Soul’s fate in week eight.

Looking Ahead In The PUL

It’s a frenetic closing stretch in the PUL as ten games take place across the final two weeks of the season. In Week Nine, the North Division takes the spotlight as both Portland and Minnesota hit the road, Surge face off against Indy, and Milwaukee and Minnesota stare down the top-of-the-division duo of New York and Philly. In the only South Division matchup, Austin travels to play DC.

Then, in the final weekend of the season, the Championship Weekend lineup will be decided. Philly plays at Portland and Indy faces off against Minnesota on the road as the North Division sorts out who will join New York at Championship Weekend. At the same time, DC goes on the road to Atlanta and Raleigh travels to face Austin in Texas in a game that will decide who joins DC in Philly on June 22-23. New York also takes on Nashville in a cross-divisional game that has seeding implications, depending on the other results around the league.

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

Discussion

  • With no earth-shattering upsets across weeks seven and eight, the rankings remain relatively stable ahead of the final stretch of the 2024 PUL season. At the top, New York rise to second on the back of their win over Philly.
  • At the bottom of the rankings, Atlanta’s win over Austin vaults Soul above Torch, who also remain above Nashville, who lost to Austin in the second day of the Texas team’s road doubleheader in week seven.
  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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