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2018 College Championships: Women’s Division Preview

By: Sarah Judd

Dartmouth (1), Tufts (8), Colorado (12), West Chester (13), California-Santa Barbara (17)

Dartmouth is coming into the College Championships off a 2017 title raring to go after an impressive 17-1 season, suffering their only loss in an Ohio State game capped at half due to weather. Princess Layout stormed through Northwest Challenge, taking the championship with seemingly little difficulty. Julianna Werffeli has led the team with stellar throws throughout the season, enabling game-changing offensive plays. Jaclyn Verzuh, a standout star, is in one word, a playmaker. Both of these women helped carry this team in their national title run last year and will be coming to Milwaukee to try to repeat the effort.

Standing in Dartmouth’s way in Pool A are Tufts and Colorado. EWO went 15-3 in their regular season, taking an impressive third place at Women’s Centex. They won’t be going down without a fight with Megan Wilson and their consistent handler set and with Valerie Willocq leading a ruthless defensive line that can generate crucial break opportunities. Colorado, too, is coming in strong off a 15-5 regular season and a semifinals finish at Nationals last year. They suffered one postseason loss to Texas at South Central Regionals and were able to transition from a 0-2 deficit in the game to go against Washington University to a 6-1 run that had them taking half at 8-5. Colorado is going to need this kind of grit for their fight in Pool A.

Rounding out Pool A are West Chester, led by Danielle Byers, and California-Santa Barbara. Stay tuned for the West Chester v. Colorado game being live streamed on Ultiworld in the fight against elimination. But don’t count out the Burning Skirts. They have demonstrated the ability throughout their season to come away with crucial big wins in high-stakes situations, including a 10-9 win over Texas at President’s Day Invite and a double-game-point win over Cal Poly-SLO at Southwest Regionals. The Burning Skirts are heading into the College Championships excited to be there, with an entire roster that is new to Nationals.

California-San Diego (2), Texas (7), Carleton College (11), Western Washington (14), Michigan (18)

The California-San Diego Psychos are coming into the College Championships off an impressive 23-win season, a first-place finish at Stanford Invite, second-place finish at Northwest Challenge and first-place finish at Southwest Regionals. At regionals, they gave up a total of 19 points in seven games. Their stifling zone defense has propelled them to wins throughout the season, and their consistent and patient offenses make them a threat in any game they play.

Texas Melee is coming off a 2017 finals appearance and their first South Central Regionals win against Colorado in three years. With a victory at Centex and a fourth-place finish at President’s Day Invite, they are raring to go. In their way stands Carleton College, with a 24-7 season and determination and grit on the field. Led by Maddie Preiss and Naomi Price-Lazarus, Syzygy sailed through North Central Regionals to their fifth College Championships in the last six seasons.

Western Washington Chaos qualified for the College Championships for the third time in team history this season. With a notable 12-10 win over British Columbia at Northwest Challenge and suffering their only losses at regionals against that UBC squad, Chaos is excited to return to the national stage after missing out last year when they were suspended for the postseason by their university. They mix a skilled veteran squad of Maddie Gilbert, Samiya Ismail and Ruby Cassidy with the fiery youth of Eleanor Joselyn and Camille de Guzman.

Michigan rounds out Pool B with a 23-12 record, a Great Lakes Region win and passion for ultimate that can’t help but bring a smile to one’s face. Key players on the field include Brittany Wright and Megan Gordon, while Tina Hanson holds the impressive record of fastest untoasted bagel eating with a mind blowing 64-second time. There is no question that Michigan’s intensity and focus helped drive them from a 2-5 deficit in the regional final to a 15-11 win over Northwestern, and they will need that intensity in Milwaukee this weekend. Their Friday pool play game against California-San Diego will be streamed by USA Ultimate.

North Carolina (3), British Columbia (6), Pittsburgh (10), Whitman (15), Florida (19)

The North Carolina Pleiades boast a 28-win season and a single loss to Stanford at Northwest Challenge. With talented handlers like Tyler Smith and Elisabeth Parker; unstoppable offensive cutters like Anne Worth, Vany Nguyen and Bridget Mizener; defensive powerhouses Rebecca Fagan, Julia Zwierzynski and Mary-Walker Rippe; and Callahan nominee Jenny Wei, the Pleiades are ready to storm into the College Championships after a historic first-ever Atlantic Coast regional title.

Standing in their way are the University of British Columbia and Pittsburgh. The Pleiades already have a win this season over UBC from Northwest Challenge, but the Thunderbirds will be hoping to change that narrative. Tune in to their Friday pool play game streamed live on Ultiworld for some excitement! The Thunderbirds, in turn, notably took a second-place finish at Stanford Invite and narrowly lost in the Northwest Regionals final to Oregon. Despite the loss, they had a strong weekend and are ready for the College Championships stage. Pittsburgh Danger is also ready for Nationals. With a veteran, fifth-year class that includes Sarah Russek, Carolyn Normile, Cat Pagano and Haley Grajewski, they boast a 20-5 season that brings them to their fourth consecutive College Championships.

Rounding out the competition in Pool C are Whitman and Florida. Whitman only played two regular-season tournaments this spring, and after losing almost every game at their first, came back in the second to win crucial games. With key players Alissa and Linnea Soo, they are nipping at the heels of Pitt to make it into bracket play. Florida, with their most notable win being a quarterfinals upset over Colorado at Centex, clinched the Southeast Region. Led by the talent of Courtney Testa and Lauren Bahng and supported by players like Lucy Berman, they have the potential for upsets in Pool C.

Stanford (4), Oregon (5), Ohio State (9), North Carolina State (16), Cornell (20)

Stanford Superfly sits at the head of Pool D. In their regular season, they went 24-3, including first-place finishes at President’s Day Invite and the Santa Barbara Invite. Although Stanford lost in the final at Southwest Regionals, the wind conditions affected that game tremendously. Outside of the final, they played a fantastic tournament and were virtually untested early. Their offense relies on the dependable nature of handlers Michelle McGhee and Hallie Dunham, who are capable of leading offensive play in any element.

Oregon Fugue is coming off of a Northwest Regionals championship and is ready to fight. Their season was marked by grit and determination, demonstrating their ability to work together as a team, as well as taking advantage of the individual vision, touch and power of stars like Ella Hansen and Hayley Wahlroos. Waiting with Fugue in the wings is Ohio State Fever. Fever has had an impressive season, with a second-place finish at Centex and a fourth-place finish at Stanford Invite. Fever is also the only team to have beaten Dartmouth’s dominating squad this season.

Rounding out Pool D are North Carolina State and Cornell. N.C. State is making their first College Championships appearance since 2005, led by the throwing power and focus of Ashley Powell. They are coming off a 27-6 season and hoping to make the most of their Nationals appearance. Cornell, with such illustrious alumni as Tiina Booth and Bill Nye, has had a difficult 6-13 regular season, but sailed through conferences and regionals with a 12-1 record, advancing for the first time since 2014.

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