Nexxgen Women’s Ultimate

Nexgen

The Nexgen Tour has emerged over the past two years as a household name in Ultimate. Aside from winning the Callahan, it might be the best way for Ultimate fans to find out who you are. Taking a cut of some of the best Open college players, Nexgen travels the country playing elite club teams, filming and streaming their games in high quality video. In order to make the team more fun for the fans and expose more players to the masses, they tend to pick from teams around the country. They also add an international player and usually someone from a smaller school who was maybe overlooked during the season.

What they don’t have is a Women’s tour. This isn’t really about that, because I’m not here for that argument. This is about, if they did – and I could totally see Without Limits joining forces with them to try and make this happen – who would be on it? Which 15 college women’s players have the skills, flair, and geographic distribution to form a badass team of collegiate superstars? Here’s my guess at it.

Claire Chastain, Nexgen tailor made, throwing a low release flick

Claire Chastain (UNC-Wilmington) – This was the first person I thought of. There’s some others – who will come later on the list – with arguments for the title, but she may very well be the most exciting player in Women’s college Ultimate. You never really know what’s going to happen when she’s got the disc or when it is in the air, headed in her direction. A full arsenal of the throws that make crowds go “Oooooh” and all the big layouts you could ask for. There’s a reason she was the only active college womens player invited to the Team USA World Games tryouts.

Paige Soper (Ohio State) – Coming off her huge breakout season last year, “Diddy”‘s legend has grown this season, culminating her Skyd 5 Callahan candidate selection. Hyper competitive, Diddy brings fire and intensity to the field. Her throws are textbook and she fears no team, matchup, or throwing situation. She’d make a great addition.

Magon Liu (Iowa State) – I’ve made pretty clear my fandom of Magon’s game. Whether it is on frozen fields with Iowa State at Midwest Throwdown, or in the wind and sun of Sarasota with CLX, Mags is a big play waiting to happen. Her layouts are the ones where you turn to someone on the sideline and go “I didn’t think she had any chance of getting to that.” She’s also got that trusty high release backhand. Yes, there’s definitely arguments for Becca Miller or Cami Nelson, but if you want to leave fans wide-eyed, I’m taking Mags.

Anna Reed, possible robot, with a dirty low release backhand

Anna Reed (Carleton) – There probably isn’t a more dominant handler in the college women’s scene right now than Anna Reed. With a nuclear-level flick bomb, she can essentially alter the field of play. She might be a robot – in which case, she might not be eligible – but she also just might be a total badass with a disc in her hand. A lot of Nexgen highlights could start her getting a great D, picking it up, and boosting it with gusto.

Lien Hoffman (Northwestern) – Aww man, those first steps are killer. With Anna Reed, Diddy, and company hucking to her, Lien might not be the most exciting player to watch, but that’s because her defender probably won’t be in the shot anymore. Batman-like disappearing abilities aside, Lien is a well rounded cutter, able to hurt you underneath too, and is more than willing to take on the opposition’s top cutter when coming down on the pull.

Michela Meister, alliteration inspiring beast, with an extension grab

Michela Meister (Stanford) – The Stanford Superfly superstar seemingly shows sensational skills…ok, alliteration be damned, this is who I’d pick to fight with Claire Chastain for “most exciting player”. And maybe Bailey Zahniser. But anyway, Michela is the “do everything” stud who would probably play everywhere on the field for the Nexgen ladies.

Shellie Cohen (North Carolina) – If you didn’t think Shellie would appear on this list, you’re probably a first time reader. Her play spoke pretty loud and clear at Nationals last year, and she continues her dominance this season. Her tall frame gives her some of the biggest throws in the country, and she’s just as capable of skying for the big backhand as she is putting it up. I’m also thinking she’d be pretty entertaining in front of the camera for nexgen’s segments between games.

Lane Siedor, versatile star of Georgia and Ozone, with a layout grab

Lane Siedor (Georgia) – Did someone order more tall handlers? Well, college handlers, anyway. Lane sees tons of touches in the middle of Georgia’s offense, scanning the field while her mark stalls away in vain. But when I saw her in Sarasota this past year playing for Ozone, she spent most of her time downfield, digging up discs before they hit grass with giant layouts. Poised veteran with the disc, big time playmaker without it.

India Stubbs (Harvard) – We need someone who hasn’t gotten a lot of exposure because their team isn’t on the National scene. Hello India Stubbs. She gives you the name recognition you’d like, carrying the Stubbs-gene, and she’s a very talented player whose experience playing on stud-filled teams (Junior Worlds, Bucket) would let her integrate quickly. You could also try Sasha Bugler from Maryland, who’s a confident break thrower that plays killer downfield defense, or if your heart is set on D3 (like Tommy Li), Claire Baecher from Williams is a hell of a player.

Catherine Hui, suspected teleporter, with a grab at Club Championships, as photographed by Brandon Wu

Catherine Hui (British Columbia) – She may very well be this year’s Callahan frontrunner. Frontrunner is a good term, too, because she’s usually running way out in front of her defender. I’m not sure if she is cutting or teleporting, leaving a comical trail of roadrunner dust in her wake. She was pegged by Skyd as one of the best targets at Nationals last year. No, not college nationals, club nationals. Yeah, she’ll be a highlight reel feature.

Fuguers (Oregon) – Maybe you’re wondering at this point “Uh, where are the players from last year’s college Final??” Well, it is their own fault there’s too many of them. Luckily, Nexgen takes two Oregon players, so we better too. Oregon alone brings Bailey Zahniser, Sophie ❤ Darch, Kimber Coles, Jesse Shofner, and Bethany Kaylor to the table. The first three in particular jump out to me and it is hard to pick two of them. Bailey’s Skyd 5 Callahan candidate selection and penchant to take super aggressive choices should get her a spot, and while my heart – anybody who knows me can attest – would choose Sophie a million times out of a million, Kimber’s fiery and confident style is the kind of personality and player that the Tour could use. Plus, she’s already traveled with them, helping out behind the scenes. Time to get in front of the camera, Kimber. Bailey Zahniser and Kimber Coles, folks.

Sarah Davis (Washington) – The woman known as “CO” is the Callahan nominee from the reigning champs, and their roster is stacked with exciting players. They have four U23 players (Davis, Shira Stern, Alysia Letourneau, and Amanda Kostic), plus Lucy Williams and Barb Hoover are extremely tough matchups. You could get into a bit of  Fugue-ish situation here, but CO is the pick, with her athleticism, pretty puts, and “do anything to get the disc” cutting.

Claudia Tajima, better known as Zilla, demonstrating why she is better known as Zilla

Claudia Tajima (Tufts) – You didn’t think I’d leave out the last Callahan frontrunner, did you? To be honest, I’m a bigger fan of Hailey Alm, and their teammate Emily Shields is pretty awesome, too, but if you want the type of plays that will make Tyler Kinley go “Let’s get another look at that,” then you want Tajima. Another fiercely competitive personality who fears no match up, Tajima has the puts and the defense to fill in nicely with this group.

We leave the final spot for the international choice.

Of course, there will be players I could have chosen, but didn’t. Chelsea Twohig, Sunny Harris, Becca Miller, Biz Cook, Alicia Thompson, and Meagan Cousins fans probably won’t be my friend anymore. But tell me you wouldn’t tune in to see if this squad could beat Fury or Riot?

Women’s Bidwatch: #Bidwatch Bloodbath

The dust has settled after Centex, where many of the nation’s top teams went toe to toe, with lots of bids on the line. There are no major tournaments on the Women’s side before the Series, so while there may be a little movement, this is essentially the final bid picture. In the last rankings, which I didn’t do a write up for, Stanford moved up from the SW and took a bid out of the hands of Iowa State. Iowa State won Centex, so you can bet they are moving up. Who else went where? Let’s look at the Top 25.

3-27-WomensRankings

The big mover here is Iowa State, and rightfully so. I understand how their previous record pushed them lower, but it was clear they were way better than that number. Their (second consecutive) Centex Championship included wins over the #2, #3, and #4 team in the country and only one loss, to that same #4 team. They move up 12 spots to #8. UNC-Wilmington moves up 10 spots, scoring their second marquee win of the season by beating Ohio State in round one. Their Michigan win also looks a little better now. They’d add wins over Santa Barbara and Northeastern and good, close losses to Iowa State and Wisconsin in their 3-4 weekend. That leaves them just two spots outside of the bid picture (Bowdoin only has 6 games, would need 10 to qualify) behind Florida State. Tufts, North Carolina, and Michigan also move up.

Colorado takes an important fall out of the top 20, after going 2-5 at Centex. Their blowout losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota and solid loss to North Carolina didn’t help. Wisconsin only lost 98 points, but move down 4 spots to #12, after a 3-4 weekend in Austin. Whitman takes an 11 spot drop out of the Top 20, despite going 4-2. They could have used a marquee win, but their loss to Texas took away some of their opportunity. Florida State loses just 12 points, but moves three spots down (two if you don’t count Bowdoin), the difference between a strength bid and not.

#Bidwatch

I’ll list the total number of bids, list every team that is holding a bid, and italicize the autobid team, to give you a more complete picture:

  • AC (1): #13 Virginia
  • GL (1): #23 Michigan
  • ME (1): #48 Ottawa
  • NE (2): #4 Tufts, #17 Northeastern
  • NC (5): #2 Carleton, #6 Iowa, #8 Iowa State, #11 Minnesota, #12 Wisconsin
  • NW (4): #1 Oregon, #5 British Columbia, #7 Washington, #9 Victoria
  • OV (1): #3 Ohio State
  • SC (1): #24 Colorado
  • SE (2): #1 Georgia, #15 Central Florida
  • SW (2): #14 UC-Santa Barbara, #16 Stanford

The North Central takes back its fifth bid, the Northwest gives up its fifth bid. The Southeast gives up a bid while New England takes one. As noted earlier, the Southwest took a bid in last week’s rankings, which I didn’t write about. This gives us 3 two bid regions, 1 four bid region, and 1 five bid region. Man, the results are really close. #17 Northeastern is sitting on the final strength bid with 1824 points. Florida State is next eligible in line, with 1817 points. UNC-Wilmington has 1814. Those are all very close numbers, and scoring an extra couple of points in a game could have been all the difference for any of these three teams.

Iowa State’s big jump doesn’t help many teams, as they had only lost three games all year (to Northwestern, Ohio State, and Minnesota). Tufts’s only losses are to UNC, Iowa, and Iowa State, which did help UNC stay close in the rankings (just behind UNC-W). Basically, with no major moves, few teams really helped or hurt each other. Colorado’s fall didn’t help North Carolina, I guess.

All in all, it came down to who was winning games. Around this time, each year, conversation begins about what should merit a bid, and it often comes down to which is more important: Strength of Schedule or Wins/Losses. The USAU dictates who gets the bids, so the teams have to find the best balance they can. The USAU’s math should also seek to create a good balance between these two, but there will also be some who disagree. Teams also have to worry about getting experience so their team is best prepared for the Series. Sometimes, you have to play good teams and take lumps to do it. It is very hard to discover where the line is that you want to walk, let alone to walk on it by getting the results you want.

Take a look at five teams who show the differences in these ideas. Victoria and Northeastern have weaker schedules, but better winning percentages. UNC-Wilmington and North Carolina have stronger schedules but lower winning percentages. Florida State falls somewhere in between on these concepts. Victoria, for example, has 10 games total, including: 13-8 vs. UCSB, 11-3 vs. Stanford, and 7-6 vs. Sonoma. They have blowout wins over lesser teams and a single loss, by one point, to Western Washington. That huge margin of victory against Stanford is a significant buoy for them, but they have only a few games vs. high level competition, yet sit at #9 in USAU’s rankings. UNC is 9-12 on the year, including: 11-10 vs. Virginia, 15-13 vs. Ohio State, 13-10 vs. Northeastern, 9-6 vs. UCSB, and 12-10 vs. Michigan. They do have two losses to Pittsburgh, albeit close, and one bad loss to Michigan. Their resume has a lot of red in it, but most of it close games against strong competition. The story is the same for Northeastern and UNC-Wilmington. Florida State is 18-8, attending Florida Winter Classic, QCTU, their hometown Tally Classic, and Centex’s D-II. Their losses to lower tier teams at Centex in UCLA and Colorado College really make a big difference for them, as does a 6-10 loss to Northeastern at QCTU.

With so little left on the docket, this is mostly how the bid picture will be shaped. The Series is going to be very exciting. The Atlantic Coast has three strong teams fighting for one bid. The Southeast has three fighting for two bids. The North Central got all five bids they need, or else it would have gotten very crazy. Pittsburgh in the Ohio Valley, California and Sonoma State in the Southwest, Northwestern and Texas in the South Central, and Dartmouth in New England can all challenge current bidholders for the ticket to the Championships. Will anybody step back up to Michigan in the Great Lakes? Will it be Ottawa or NYU or someone else in the ME? It’ll be interesting to watch, no matter how you slice it.

Women’s College Centex: Sunday Recap and Tourney Reactions

PreQuarters

Early Sunday morning saw conditions become colder and significantly windier, forcing teams to try some new looks.

Iowa vs. UNC-W

The mythical upwinder – often the game changer on windy days – was first captured by Saucy Nancy, who took a 3-1 lead. Behind the throwing of Bekah Hickernell and catches of Audrey Erickson, Iowa would add another upwinder to make it 5-1 before taking half 8-3. Hickernell would continue to add to her assist tally, often to stud Liza Minor in the second half on the way to a 12-8 victory.

UC-Santa Barbara vs. Minnesota

The Burning Skirts – without their star and leader Alicia Thompson – would open their day with an energetic Ninja squad. They Ninjas would draw first blood, getting the upwind break and taking a 3-0 lead. The Skirts would fight back to make it 5-4 before Minnesota opened it back up to take half 8-5. The second half would mostly be a back and forth game, with Minnesota getting one more break, eventually finishing it 11-8.

Ohio State vs. Colorado

Fever was able to open with an upwind score, and with zones being effective tools, control the pace of the rest of the game. Despite some long points with good defense from both Kali and Fever, the Buckeye state women would take half 8-1. They’d roll to a 13-5 win, which the wind forced all the way to soft cap.

Stanford vs. Wisconsin

Each of these teams was coming in with a 1-2 record on the weekend and certainly not wanting to fall to 1-3 and out of contention. The last they saw one another, it was a 13-11 game that Wisconsin took, dealing Superfly a critical loss at their home tournament. The wind made this game one full of long points, but Superfly was able to get the upwinders necessary to win 7-4.

Tufts vs. Central Florida

The game would start with the Ewo women getting an early break and upwinder to get a 2-0 lead. The Sirens would respond – crucial to do in these sorts games – to tie it at 2-2. The teams would battle through long points, but behind the play of Emily Shields and Skyd 5 Callahan Selection Claudia Tajima, who would get a big goal line layout D and eventually get the back to back scores,Tufts would take that half, 8-7. The cap went on, and the teams went to 9-9, double game point. Shields would get low for a floaty pass to nab the win and send Ewo to Quarters.

Virginia vs. California

I may sound like a broken record, but the wind lead to some long points in a very close game. California started up, but Virginia was able to score back to back to bring it to 5-4. Theresa Hackett was huge for them in this game, as she was all weekend, bringing in a lot of key grabs. The teams would trade, with Alika Johnston bringing in the 7-6 game winner.

Carleton vs. Texas

Carleton may have been one of the teams least unhappy with the conditions. Their strong throwers and tall receivers can overpower opponents when conditions get dicey. Texas, riding high from the Saturday they hoped for, probably were less enthused. Syzygy was able to stake out an early lead and wouldn’t look back, 11-5.

Iowa State vs. North Carolina

In the last episode of this matchup, Woman Scorned took down North Carolina in the QCTU Semis, to the tune of 14-11. ISU is, like their North Central brethren, pretty comfortable in the wind, particularly with the throws of Sarah Pesch and Magon Liu, two of their four U23 team members. North Carolina’s Shellie Cohen is one of the most powerful throwers in the Women’s game, but her strength was not enough to overcome the long points against Iowa State, who would win, 9-7.

Quarters

Carleton vs. Iowa State

Iowa State moved from their QCTU Semis rematch to a QCTU Final rematch, facing Carleton. Winds started getting near 20 mph, but both teams were able to generate some offense behind skilled handler play. The rematch wouldn’t be quite as close as the 14-13 QCTU game was, with Woman Scorned coming out on top, 10-7.

Tufts vs. Virginia

Both teams were coming off hard fought games, but Tufts was able to tap into their skill and depth early on. They’d fire off the first 8 points, their zone dominating the game. They’d add a Callahan from Tasha Link before finishing things, 12-4, punching a ticket to the top four.

Ohio State vs. Stanford

Both teams were happy to huck the disc downwind in this one, but Ohio State would be the first team to find the upwinder, Diddy Soper firing one to take the 3-2 lead. Stanford was unable to flip the break, giving up a very long and hard fought downwinder and going down a pair. Fever would seize the momentum to score another upwinder, going up 5-2. That lead would be what they would need to take the game, which ended 10-5.

Iowa vs. Minnesota

This North Central clash was one both teams really wanted, as they saw each other twice at Midwest. Minnesota scored the upset in pool play, but Iowa dominated when it mattered in the Final. The Ninjas would open with a quick downwinder and an upwind break for a 2-0 lead. However, Saucy Nancy would respond to flip the break and score the ensuing downwinder, tying it back up, Erickson still leading the way on both sides of the disc. The teams traded to 4-5, when Minnesota would manage three in a row, soon taking half 8-5. The gap would prove too much for Iowa to overcome in the second half, and they’d fall 12-8.

Semifinals

Minnesta vs. Ohio State

Fever would jump out to a 4-1 lead, again behind the playmaking ability of Diddy Soper, with the help of grad student Jenny Perry. Minnesota would get a break of their own before the half was out, but OSU kept the pressure on. With Soper getting most of the assists, Ohio State wouldn’t look back on their way to a 14-6 win, sending them to their second consecutive tournament final.

Tufts vs. Iowa State

Early on, both squads would trade, Ewo still relying on stellar play from Laura Fradin to help their offense navigate Woman Scorned’s defensive play. However, it would be Iowa State that would snag the first break, to take a 5-3 lead. The response would come swiftly, Emily Shields again coming up big with her playmaking to tie it at 5-5. For a while, neither squad was able to capitalize on opportunities and generate a second break. However, late in the game, tied at 11-11, Tufts would finally strike, taking a 12-11 lead. With their backs against the wall, Iowa State would need to find a way to break and very soon. Woman Scorned doesn’t crack under pressure, punches in the upwind O point to Liu, and then wins the ensuing double game point with a downwind break to march onto finals, 13-12.

Ohio State vs. Iowa State

The Final would be a rematch of the last round in Pool D. In that game, Ohio State was able to use their deep game, powered by “Dissie” (a combination of Diddy Soper and Cassie Swafford) to win 14-11. However, Iowa State came in the reigning Centex Champions. While you could look at a few angles for storylines, in the end, the storyline went one direction: downwind. Winning the flip turned out to be critical, as both teams struggled to generate upwind opportunities, despite having a number of talented throwers. Ohio State came really close on a couple of possessions, but drops near the endzone – not uncommon on cold days with discs hopping around – ended their run each time. The teams would trade the entirety of the Final, leading to a 13-12 victory for Woman Scorned. Cami Nelson would take home Skyd’s red MVP jersey.

Division II

After one team from Division III cracked the bracket – Arizona State with a surprising win over MIT – the teams settled in for PreQuarters. Colorado College and Dartmouth are your surprises here, topping Florida State and Northwestern respectively. Each had gone 1-2 the previous day, but would ride the momentum to win their Quarters game and make Semis, beating Northeastern and UCLA, respectively. Michigan walloped Pittsburgh 15-2 and Whitman knocked off Texas A&M, as well. Colorado College would stay hot with a 9-7 win over Whitman, while Michigan would end Dartmouth’s run. The Final would be another battle for upwind breaks, of which Colorado College would get the first. Very long points lead to a low scoring affair, and Flywheel was able to get the upwind break response they needed very late, tying the game at 7-7 and sending it to universe. Colorado College was unable to get back upwind and Flywheel took the DII title home, 8-7.

In DIII, Rice made a great four game run to win the Final over MIT.

Reactions

My three favorites to challenge Northwest supremacy AKA The Evil Empire at the College Championships all solidified themselves this weekend. Iowa State Woman Scorned has been legit in my mind, ranking withstanding. They still are running balanced lines, throwing rookies out even in important situations. It is really hard to think of a team with a top four like theirs – they need some sort of nickname – and when they really want to turn it on, I expect them to be just about as good as anybody. Tufts Ewo and Ohio State Fever were two teams I liked coming into this year, returning their cores and continuing their growth from good runs last year. Ewo has shown me not only their top end talent, but their depth, with Laura Fradin, Emily Shields, and Qxnha Titcomb emerging as playmakers. Ohio State is the same. While Paige “Diddy” Soper is clearly one of the college game’s premier handlers and Cassie Swafford, when healthy, is equally as good a cutter, the team’s development and additions are what make them a threat. Adding freshmen Nina Finley has been gigantic, but Jenny Perry, the return of the beautiful and talented Janine Walker, and Lauren Franke’s defensive play have all elevated this team.

I worry a little bit about Virginia Hydra. While I’ve had a history of underestimating them, I just feel like they have a high floor and low ceiling. They have the defensive ability to make Prequarters, but I just don’t know if their overall talent level can take them any further than that. Their wins this weekend were 14-12, 15-12, 7-6, and 9-5. Their losses were 10-15, 4-12, and 3-11. All of those losses came against teams that could make Semis at the show, while all of their wins were against teams that will have a tougher time getting that far. Their win over North Carolina Pleaides was a nice statement about their takeover of the AC Region though.

I was of the belief that people were overreacting to Wisconsin Bella Donna‘s performance at Stanford Invite. Their performance was worthy of all the praise being heaped on it – hell, I couldn’t stop tweeting about it – but if you look at their full body of work, calling them a top 5 team is silly. Clearly, the potential is there, but without any of the consistency necessary to pull it off. I expect the North Central to get their five bids, but if they didn’t…would Wisconsin be left at home? If they aren’t playing well at Regionals, it is a definite possibility.

Speaking of #bidwatch, coming in, Stanford and the Southwest took one of the North Central bids, while the Southeast trio moved into the danger zone at the back end of the top 20. Stanford had a tough weekend and could fall backwards, though a 15-5 smashing of Minnesota will help their math. UCF started the weekend with two blowout losses, which will be tough to overcome, but they did beat Stanford solidly. I think Florida State did what they needed to on the weekend. Northeastern had a great showing this weekend and was just outside of a bid coming in. I expect them to take one for New England. Seaweed from UNC-W was also hanging around (#30) coming into the weekend, and notched wins over Ohio State, aforementioned Northeastern, and UC-SB, and all of their losses were very close. I think they’ll move to just outside the bid picture. Finally, Colorado College may very well take one for the South Central, on the back of a 4-3 weekend, with wins over Northeastern, Florida State, Whitman and UC-SD and very close losses to Michigan and Whitman.

In total, we have five teams: Northeastern, Colorado College, Central Florida, Florida State, and Stanford. They are fighting for two bids, assuming Iowa State takes one back for North Central. All of this will be settled shortly when the USAU releases their rankings, which they typically do around this time on Wednesdays.

For additional coverage, check out Skyd’s video recap, their interview with ISU’s Cami Nelson, and Ultiworld’s Deep Looks Podcast.

Up Calls: Weekend Results, Callahan Nominees, Pro Rosters

Up Calls is back to keep you aware of what’s up in the game:

  • Easterns managed to survive some crazy Sunday weather, eventually producing a champion in Minnesota Grey Duck, who beat Central Florida Dogs of War in the final, 15-13. There were a lot of close games and not a single #1 seed made Semis; Carleton didn’t even make Quarters. UNC and Colorado filled in the other Semis spots.
  • Women’s College Centex also saw plenty of surprises, and in the end, Iowa State Woman Scorned reigned supreme, fighting the wind and Ohio State Fever in a 14-13 final. Minnesota and Tufts made Semis, while Wisconsin fell to 10th place after getting bounced in PreQuarters. Also of note was the strong weekend Texas Melee had been looking for all season. I think California Pie Queens might be your dance-off champions.
  • At the Chicago Invite (Open), Oregon State emerged as the Open champs, over Case Western in the final, 12-10. Their pool, Pool D, placed 3 of the 4 semifinalists (Oregon St., Carnegie-Melon, and Case), while the 4th was North Texas. Eastern Michigan goes winless Saturday, Northern Iowa goes undefeated before eventually losing to Oregon State in Quarters and Missouri in the 5th place game.
  • On the ladies’ side, the Chicago Invite (Women) title went to Valparaiso, who beat Purdue, 11-8, in the final. Michigan State and Illinois would both make Semis, while Kansas would struggle through a tough weekend that, according to score reporter, shows them forfeiting Sunday.
  • College Terminus was rained out.
  • At Southerns XII, Carleton College Eclipse beat out Princeton in a nighttime final on Saturday to win the Women’s side. James Madison topped Appalachian State in the Open final. Sunday play was moved to Saturday evening to avoid thunderstorms. Side note: My team was not informed of this change and only found out via coincidence. We were not happy to have “forfeited” all of our games after we left the fields, because our pool play ended before all the other pools (another source of annoyance). No phone call, text, email, tweet, anything. Very frustrating.
  • The Skyd Awards Committee announced four of the Skyd 5 for each division. For Women: Claudia Tajima (Tufts), Bailey Zahniser (Oregon), Catherine Hui (British Columbia), and Paige Soper (Ohio State). For Open: Jimmy Mickle (Colorado), Tyler DeGirolamo (Pittsburgh), Dylan Freechild (Oregon), and Brian Hart (Wisconsin). The final Wildcard spots will be announced April 21st while the voting begins May 7th.
  • Eric Brach provides a peak behind the curtain of the USAU’s World Games West Coast Tryouts.
  • New York pro ultimate has their rosters set, as the AUDL’s Empire and MLU’s Rumble both released their teams. The Rumble feature Dan Heijmen, Ben Faust, Jody Avirgan, Milo Snyder, and Chris Mazur. The Empire roster includes Jack Marsh, Isaiah Bryant, and Ben Ivers.
  • It was a big weekend and with Callahan talk starting and All-Region talk sure to follow, get on twitter and hit me up with the best players you saw this weekend. Hype-train is about to pull out the station!
  • Best wishes to BJ from Texas Melee! A speedy return to health to her and any other victims of the injury bug this weekend.

Saturday Recaps and Reacts: Women’s College Centex

Division I

Round 1

Starting in Pool A, Virginia and UNC – the two top ranked teams in the AC Region – met up for the first time this season. The first half was a back and forth battle, with each team leading at some point, but no lead ever extending past a point. Virginia was able to take the lead late as the soft cap went on and finished off FFH’s first Game To Watch (GTW) 13-12.

Iowa took on Colorado in their Centex opener. Kali was still looking for a statement win against elite competition while Iowa looked to protect their #1 overall seed. Almost the entire game was a series of traded points. It wasn’t until late in the game that the Kali women were able to get a break. They’d add a second to win 15-13 and notch one of the tournament’s first upsets.

In Pool B, we got started with one of the FFH GTW, a 1/3 matchup of Wisconsin and UC-Santa Barbara. The Burning Skirts were able to avenge their Stanford Invite loss to Wisconsin with a 13-10 victory, although they unfortunately lost star Alicia Thompson for the weekend to an ankle injury. Tufts Ewo took an early lead against Pittsburgh Danger, taking half 8-3. Danger would make it close in the end, but not dig out of the hole, and Ewo started the day with a 13-11 win.

Pool C was a bit of a first round blood bath. Perennial powers Carleton (1) and Stanford (4) took on upstarts Central Florida (3) and Minnesota (2). The old money was able to beat the new bloods handily, Carleton beating UCF 13-5 and Stanford rolling Minnesota 15-5.

The first round of Pool D would pit Ohio State Fever against UNC-Wilmington Seaweed and Iowa State Woman Scorned versus California Pie Queens. Seaweed superstar Claire Chastain was in full effect, helping UNC-W take a couple of early breaks, which would prove enough to survive the ensuing point trading. Seaweed would win 15-13. Iowa State’s quartet of studs – all U23 players – connected for the first two points to take the 2-0 lead over Cal. The teams would tie at 6s, but Scorned would control the rest of the game, scoring 9 of the next 11 points to win 15-8.

Round 2

In the second round, Iowa rebounded, going up early against UNC and never relenting. A number of connecting hucks throughout the game helped Saucy Nancy take a 15-10 win. In the 2/4 seed game, Virginia Hydra scored some early breaks to stake out a lead against Colorado Kali. They’d take half 8-5. Kali would get within two late, but couldn’t overcome Virginia’s D, leading to a 15-12 final score.

In Pool B, Tufts and UCSB was another FFH GTW, and Ewo was able to take momentum in the first half, rolling to an 8-3 lead over the Thompson-less Skirts. They’d cruise to a 15-8 W. Pittsburgh would continue their pattern of tight games with elite competition, but couldn’t top Wisconsin, falling 13-11. The last time these teams saw each other, Wisconsin won 13-2, though it was the last game of their QCTU weekends.

In Pool C, two emotional teams looking to rebound from disappointing losses would take each other on in Minnesota and UCF. The Ninjas would take a 4-0 lead and never look back, winning 15-7 in an important bidwatch game. Carleton and Stanford would have a great battle. Superfly took a three point lead into half, but couldn’t maintain it against Anna Reed’s hucks to big time receivers. They’d come down to universe point, which Carleton would score to win 13-12.

The winners of Round 1 in Pool D, Iowa St. and UNC-W would see one another. After controlling the first half to the tune of 8-5, Iowa St. would have to fend off a UNC-W team that wouldn’t back down. The Wilmington ladies brought it back to 13-12 before Iowa St. finished it off, 15-13. Ohio St. and California were each eagerly seeking a win and to make a name for themselves in the rankings. Fever would cruise to a 15-7 win.

Round 3

Iowa asserted themselves in Pool A, with a nice 15-10 win over a Virginia team that had been playing very well up that point. Colorado, who started off the day with their big upset of the tournament’s number one seed, would fail to register another Pool Play win. North Carolina would win their first game of the weekend convincingly, 13-8, making the pool’s final standings Iowa, Virgina, UNC, and Colorado.

Pool B saw Ewo jumping out to an 8-4 lead on Wisconsin. Bella Donna, coming off a close game with Pittsburgh, was unable to keep up with a relatively fresh Tufts squad. Ewo takes it 15-10. Santa Barbara’s game against Pittsburgh started off competitive, but the Skirts were able to put together a run to take half 8-5. Danger never recovered, losing 15-9. Pool B – the pool I’d say was toughest to call – would finish Tufts, UCSB, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh.

Carleton and Minnesota would have their first matchup of the season in a North Central litmus test in Pool C. Minnesota would take half 8-6, but Carleton would fight back in the second, coming from down 8-10 to win 14-12. Being able to close games is something the Ninjas will likely learn over the course of this season. Perhaps still worn out from their double game point battle with Carleton, Stanford had a let down against Central Florida. Central Florida would score a huge #bidwatch win, 15-10. The pool would be settled as Carleton, Stanford, Minnesota, UCF.

The top spot was up for grabs going into Pool D’s last round, with nothing settled yet. Ohio State and Iowa State would play in the game that would decide to the pool winner. Ohio State, in part behind the return of U23 selection and all around star Cassie Swafford, joining back up with Skyd Five Callahan selection Paige “Diddy” Soper. They really helped open up Fever’s deep game on their way to a 14-11 win. In an important #bidwatch game that would also decide who would fall to the dangerous DII crossover game, UNC-Wilmington and Cal went down to the wire. The west coasters would close out, 14-13, making the pool standings OSU, ISU, Cal, UNC-W.

Division II

Pool E started off to script, with Michigan besting Dartmouth and Western Washington outscoring TAMU. However, Stacked would rebound in the next round, upsetting Michigan 16-15 on double game point. Dartmouth would do the same to Western Washington, 13-9. In an FFH GTW, Michigan responded with a dominant victory over Western Washington, 15-4. TAMU would take the pool with a 13-10 score over Dartmouth.

In Pool F, Texas Melee got the big start they needed, a nice win over Whitman. They’d continue on to an undefeated Saturday. UC-San Diego would struggle, failing to notch a pool play win. Whitman was able to beat Colorado College 14-12 to take the second spot in the pool.

In Pool G, the top two seeds – Florida State and UCLA – had clean wins on the way to seeing one another for the pool win. Meanwhile, MIT – a #bidwatch team with the chance to score critical wins – failed to get what they were looking for. UCLA would get by Florida State 10-8 and MIT would fall to Wisconsin-Eau Claire, 13-8.

Northwestern and Northeastern wound up in Pool H and both would be undefeated going into their final round. Northeastern was cruising, with a big win over Wash U and solid win over Florida. Northwestern had battled with Florida and also cleaned up against Wash U. The two teams played a grinding game, and Northeastern scored the upset, 12-11. Florida would dominate Wash U in the 3/4 game.

Crossovers

Saturday concluded with the pool winners from D-II meeting the pool losers from D-I. These games can be risky propositions, with the pool winners usually riding highs while the pool losers are struggling to find a rhythm. That did not faze most of the D-I squads: UNC-W beat Northeastern 13-10, UCF bested UCLA 15-7, and Colorado took care of TAMU 15-9. Texas, however, continued their run by knocking off Pittsburgh 15-9.

Sunday Thoughts

PreQuarters set up with:

  • Iowa vs. UNC-W
  • Santa Barbara vs. Minnesota
  • OSU vs. Colorado
  • Stanford vs. Wisconsin
  • Tufts vs. UCF
  • Virginia vs. California
  • Carleton vs. Texas
  • ISU vs. UNC

Wisconsin has not had the start to Centex they’d have wanted or that the hype would indicate. Sunday’s a new day and Stanford will also look to get back to winning ways. Last time they saw each other, it was 13-11 at the Stanford Invite in Bella Donna’s favor. This one is pretty crucial.

Another game to watch will be Tufts vs. UCF. UCF will need to keep it close for their #bidwatch purposes, but they are also coming off two wins to end Saturday. A team that feeds off of their emotions like the Sirens can get hot, while Tufts seems to be very even keel.

Colorado had a strong start to the weekend with their surprise win over Iowa and playing a very tight game with Virginia. A win over Ohio State – still trying to find consistency – could be the beginning of a huge weekend to rival Wisconsin’s Stanford Invite. This could be a real game to watch.

Finally, shout out to tgilbz and Lina rocks my world. Boo to bad weather and boo to this year’s Southerns.

Open Weekend Slate: Easterns, Terminus, Southerns, Chicago Invite

This is the biggest weekend in the college Ultimate regular season. A number of tournaments take place this weekend, but four stand out. Well, really one huge tournament stands out, but a few others will be worth nothing. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action this weekend, shall we?

Easterns

Collecting much of the top Open talent in Wilmington, Easterns will be the final elite open battle before the series. Some teams are making late adjustments while others are in critical bid situations demanding success.

If any teams have made themselves the frontrunners, it would be this collection of #1 seeds: Oregon, Carleton, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin. Behind them are a line of teams that could be in the mix, but haven’t distinguished themselves enough from their tier. Tufts is coming off a semis appearance at Stanford Invite, but also has a loss to Harvard and a 6 point loss to Pitt. UNC Darkside came into Stanford with undefeated wins of ACCUC & QCTU, but lost to Pitt and Colorado in Cali. Florida has wins over Pitt and Georgia Tech, but hasn’t faced much elite competition. The same is true of Florida State, who does have wins over Carleton and Stanford, but few other notable results. All four of these teams sit as #2 seeds. The #3 seed group are teams that have the talent to make the bracket in Madison, but haven’t shown us the consistency or elite wins to write them in yet. Minnesota’s only showing was at Pres Day, where they lost only one game (to Arizona) but didn’t see this level of competition. Central Florida, Colorado, and Stanford all have been inconsistent despite talented rosters and high expectations. Ohio is likely to make it at Nationals, but their struggles on Sunday and their lack of depth raises questions.

It is tough to peg games to watch with such a high level of competition, so keep an open eye.

College Terminus

The field here is led by Southeast title contenders, Georgia Tech and Georgia. The region currently holds three bids, but these teams are right behind those and capable of taking a spot come Regionals, and any losses they take this weekend will sting. The other one seeds are UMass, who had some close losses at Warm Up and went undefeated at the Woodside Invite, and LSU, the next team in line in the Southeast. The top Gulf Coast team has solid record and has been competitive with the elite teams they’ve faced, but have yet to get a big win. In Pool A, NC State has yet to really put it together consistently, but their game against Cinci should be a treat: the teams are 1-1 against each other, with those games decided by one and two points. Williams is a dangerous three seed, having started off strong with their Santa Barbara Invite results and showing they can beat strong teams. Alabama is a team I keep feeling will be good, and on paper, I like them, but they never seem to perform to their capability. Wash U is an intriguing four seed, having a great record, and while they have not seen too many strong teams, they definitely seem like someone who could break seed.

Games to watch: Virginia Tech vs. Wash U (8:00 AM), Georgia vs. Williams (10:15 AM), NC State vs. Cincinnati, Alabama vs. Williams (1:45 PM), Massachusetts vs. Delaware (3:30 PM)

Southerns

A few hours away from Terminus, Southerns will bring together a wide variety of teams looking to tune up before the Series and get a sense of where their strengths really lie. Princeton travels to Statesboro as the top seed overall and holding an autobid in the Metro East. They have wins over Connecticut and Georgetown and have only lost three games (UNC-W, Ohio, and by two points to Maryland). James Madison will take the next top seed spot, with a 6-1 record where they only lost to UNC-Wilmington in the Hellfish Bonanza final.. UC-San Diego and UC-Santa Barbara are coming a long way, looking to put together win-filled weekends. Neither has had consistent results from Santa Barbara Invite, Pres Day, and Stanford Open, and would like to test themselves against some new teams. Luther, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Minnesota-Duluth will all represent the North Central as one seeds. Luther comes in 5-2, with a win over Iowa, but having only gotten outside for one tourney. Black Cat, conversely, has traveled to a number of tournaments, making a name for themselves at Centex with a win over Arizona. They are led by Kevin Brown and Logan Preuss, who have seen increased attention since being named to the U-23 Open team. Minnesota-Duluth lived the dream last season, stealing a bid to Nationals with a great Regionals run. Nobody really knows what they can do this year, as this will be their first foray outside this spring. Appalachian State is the final one seed. They’ve also shown inconsistency, winning only a game at Queen City Tune Up, but having a stronger Eastern Qualifiers. Their wins over Michigan, Cincinnati, and NC State suggest a capable squad still trying to figure it out. A wild card may be Carleton College GOP, who had a lot of success at D3 Warm Up, the last time we saw them. The rest of the field is a bit of a mish-mash, meaning there could be some surprises. Conditions could have a little wind, but the rain that is expected could have an impact.

Games to Watch: Princeton vs. Chicago, Luther vs. Carleton College GOP, UC-Santa Barbara vs. Georgia Southern, Appalachian State vs. Davidson (12:30 PM)

Chicago Invite

With the weather craziness this season, Chicago Invite is a critical tournament for a number of regional teams. However, headlining the field will be #1 seed Northern Iowa. Currently, they hold a strength bid for the North Central region, as the #11 team in USAU’s rankings. They lost a single game in the one tournament they’ve been to, so people are curious who they are as a team, but they could inherit the position Luther held in the NC and are eager to prove themselves. The #2 seed overall is Missouri, a team UNI beat handily at Huck Finn, but otherwise has a pretty solid record on the season. One of their only four losses on the season comes at the hand of #3 seed overall, North Texas. Like UNI, they have only lost one game (to Texas A&M), but all of their results are from one tournament. The final #1 seeded team is Carnegie-Melon, a team just below the top tier in the Ohio Valley and looking to break through. They are focused team that would love to build the momentum they’ll need going into OV Regionals.

There are some other teams to keep an eye on throughout the field. Eastern Michigan went to Centex as a ranked team holding the Great Lakes strength bid. They struggled mightily, losing their leader James Highsmith to a concussion in the first game, and coming away from Austin with just two wins. A few weeks ago, they’d be a #1 seed, but they’ll slot in as a #3 seed, but expect a team with a chip on its shoulder. Oklahoma is another team whose Centex results warrant notice. Their performance – 5-2 with wins over Georgia Tech, Cal, and Kansas – flew under the radar, even though they went broke seed, going from last to 9th. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them break seed again. Dayton, Iowa, Tennessee, and Iowa State are all teams that could do damage and exceed expectations.

Games to Watch: Missouri vs. Eastern Michigan, Northern Iowa vs. Oklahoma (9:00 AM), Iowa St. vs Eastern Michigan, Tennessee vs. Oklahoma, Dayton vs. Iowa (12:00 PM), North Texas vs. Dayton, Northern Iowa vs. Tennessee (1:30 PM)

Women’s Weekend Slate: Centex (!), Terminus, Chicago Invite, Southerns

This is the biggest weekend in the college Ultimate regular season. A number of tournaments take place this weekend, but four stand out. Well, really one huge tournament stands out, but a few others will be worth nothing. Let’s take a look at the upcoming action this weekend, shall we?

Women’s College Centex

The crown jewel in Without Limits’ and Michelle Ng’s lovely tournament collection (seriously, cudos to Michelle, the amazing sacrifices she makes in service to women’s Ultimate, and the impact she has on the season), Centex is a chance for contenders to emerge for the title. There are teams who have been inconsistent, teams who have broken out, and teams fighting for bids (#bidwatch!). It’ll be a Who’s Who in Austin, with only Oregon, UBC, and Washington missing out on the party, as far as big time Nationals contenders go. I think I have covered a good amount in this post, but there’s also previews from the pros (Skyd, Skyd – DIII).

Some confident teams will be still working and developing their rotation in anticipation of the Series, which could skew the results, but don’t underestimate the power of pride and of intimidation. Teams like Santa Barbara, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Stanford are looking to prove something. Having the mental edge over your regional opponents or those you may face in Madison can be big. We’ll see how the conditions and the pressures impact teams.

Plus, there’s the Dance Competition. After watching the submission videos, early favorites in my mind are Michigan Flywheel, Ohio State Fever, Stanford Superfly, and Colorado Kali. Sleeper pick? Arizona State.

College Terminus

Perhaps smaller than usual, College Terminus will pit some of the top Southeast teams against teams from New England and other regions. Georgia is the heavy favorite going into this weekend, a Nationals level team facing off against primarily regional opponents. Williams and Middlebury venture down from the NE region and look to score wins and perhaps a shot at Georgia. Williams has just one loss on the season – 7-13 to Central Florida – and mostly dominated competition last time they were in the south at Florida Winter Classic. Middlebury has yet to record a sanctioned game, so this will be their first true tournament appearance. Tulane Muses, recently added to the tournament, are in a very similar situation to their showing at Tally Classic: some solid teams out of region, some teams they want to beat up on in region, and one Southeast top dog they want to prove they can hang against.

Looking just at Southeast, Auburn, Vanderbilt, and Alabama will all be in action. All four SE teams wound up in the same pool, so this will be a proving ground for the upcoming Series. These three Gulf Coast teams are looking to set themselves up for better seeding for their Conference Championship, and get past any mental roadblocks their past results have created.

Games to watch: Auburn vs. Vanderbilt (12:00 PM), Tulane vs. Oberlin (1:30 PM), Georgia vs. Middlebury, Williams vs. Tulane (3:00 PM).

Chicago Invite

A large 32 team field will do battle at Chicago Invite, with Great Lakes and South Central regionals teams trying to build for runs in their respective regions. Valparaiso and Kansas are the one-seeds in the power pools, each having strong seasons so far. Valpo is the top ranked USAU team from the Great Lakes and Kansas is the second team out of the South Central, mostly behind big performances at Midwest Throwdown. There, Kansas upset Wisconsin and Valparaiso topped Wash U, and each put up good results against other regional competition. Illinois is an interesting team, coming off a win over Texas and a one point loss to Michigan at Music City. Purdue has also shown themselves solid, with a marquee win over Wash U, and they are capable of beating teams of this quality. Be wary of the weather!

Games to Watch: Purdue vs. St. Louis (12:00 PM), Valparaiso vs. Purdue (1:30 PM), Kansas vs. Illinois (3:00 PM).

College Southerns

An interesting field of regional competitors from a few different regions will meet up in Statesboro, GA. I’m not sure seeding means much going into this one. The number one seed overall is Chicago, who traveled to Cali for the Stanford Open to start the year, getting a pair of wins and some close games. GCSU takes the second seed, and they will be looking to rebound from a winless weekend in Tallahassee. This is a gritty team with great chemistry that started off the season very well, so don’t surprised to see them turn it on again. Carleton Eclipse, the second women’s team from Carleton College, also traveled to the Stanford Open, where they went 3-4, and also have a 5th place finish at Queen City Open. They have a very tough two-seed in Towson, who has lost three games this season by a combined total of four points. Emory rounds out the top seeds, a team with very few sanctioned wins (1-11), but having faced very stiff competition so far this year at FWC and Midwest Throwdown. We’ll see if these experiences have prepared them to match up with a different level of competition.

Other teams to watch include Virginia Tech (5-2, wins over Delaware and Cornell), Mary Wash (4-3, wins over Wake and George Washington), Duke (4-3, 4th place at Queen City Open, win over Carleton Eclipse), Princeton (6-1, only given up more than four points once), and South Carolina (7-7, wins over Georgia Tech and Georgetown).

Games to watch: Emory vs. Princeton (9 AM), Chicago vs. South Carolina (10:45 AM), Emory vs. Duke (12:30 PM), Virginia Tech vs. South Carolina (2:15 PM), Chicago vs. Virginia Tech, Carleton-B vs. Towson, GCSU vs. Mary Wash (4:00 PM).