2015 D-I College Championships - Women's Division Preview

Posted: May 20, 2015 06:26 PM


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The seeds have been set, and 20 teams play for a chance to take home the Division I College Championship in Milwaukee, Wis., May 22-25.

In what may be the deepest pool of teams yet, every team has a chance to find success.

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Pool A

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  Notre Dame
  Florida State
  Central Florida


The overall number one seed, Oregon Fugue, comes into the tournament with only two losses on an otherwise extremely impressive season. After finishing as the runner-up in 2014, they once again have an opportunity to capture the championship, but starting in pool play, they will meet some formidable opponents. Not much is known about Notre Dame WOMB and their undefeated season. They have steadily added more impressive victories to their name since the fall season and will have an early test of their national standing in this pool. Florida State and Central Florida are more familiar with each other. They’ve met four times this spring, and each team has picked up two wins. They have also each found a new groove that has helped propel them to the College Championships. The Florida State Seminole Ladies put together a veteran roster which has generated a large amount of success, while the Central Florida Sirens have established a new look after departures from last season’s semifinalist team. At the bottom of the pool sits the Victoria UVixens, who have faced some adversity but were still able to qualify for the College Championships out of the always-talented Northwest Region. The UVixens have proven to their competitors this season that they cannot be overlooked and have the firepower to back it up. Oregon may not be able to impose their decided dominance throughout pool play, but they should still be considered the heavy favorite to come out on top.

Pool B

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  Ohio State


Stanford Superfly has one of the deepest and most successful team histories at any level of ultimate, with seven college championship titles in 11 appearances since 1995. But will this year’s team be able to overcome their funk to add to the history books? Or will injuries and an inability to kickstart their offense in key moments keep them away? The rest of Pool B is certainly gunning for the latter. Dartmouth’s Princess Layout finally made the leap to the College Championships after a coming-out party at the Northwest Challenge this spring helped showcase their strengths. With depth that most teams will have trouble matching, Dartmouth can do more than simply qualify for this tournament; a deep run into the weekend is likely. Breaking free of their Northwest Region foes, Washington Element looks to flourish as the 11th overall seed, and third in Pool B. They, too, thrive off of their depth, especially as team chemistry remains largely unchanged as they utilize the many different tools they have available. Last year’s champions, Ohio State Fever, are no doubt a completely different team - from their roster to their on-field strategy, the change is clear. But their ability to impact the outcome of the tournament, and perhaps make a considerable run at a repeat championship, is not out of the question. In the bottom spot in the pool sits the Middlebury Lady Pranksters. With only three losses on the season, they silently came out of the New England Region behind Dartmouth, and the Lady Pranksters can pull off a similar feat in Milwaukee if their opponents choose to take them lightly. The teams of Pool B will certainly be a challenge to Stanford’s hopes of adding to their storied history.

Pool C

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  Carleton College
  British Columbia


It may seem like UCLA benefitted from a chaotic regionals finish across the country, as they ended up with the overall third seed in the tournament, but their results suggest this could be the right spot for them. On the back of strong defense, they have put up a similar season, in terms of results, to regional rival Stanford Superfly. In Milwaukee, they’ll face diverse tests in a challenging Pool C, with Carleton College Syzygy as the first of those tests. The Syzygy roster may look different than the 2014 edition, but their results and on-field presence have not changed. How the team approaches defense helps them separate from the pack and earn hard-fought wins. The two teams did not meet at the Stanford Invite earlier this season, but results suggest an exciting match up. Lurking behind these top two seeds are the British Columbia Thunderbirds. A disappointing regionals finish finds them perhaps under-seeded, and  they enter the tournament as a major threat to take the pool and the championship. With a handler-strong roster, any conditions Milwaukee may throw at teams should be easily dealt with by the Thunderbirds. Another team that loves to utilize the ability of their handlers, Pittsburgh Danger comes in looking to conquer teams from the rest of the country, as they have against many on the east coast. Pool C could be the perfect setting for Pittsburgh to move further up on the national scene. Texas Melee enters with a less-than-perfect season. It’s difficult to pinpoint which version of Melee will show up in Milwaukee, but if their offense is clicking, they have the ability to battle with each of their pool opponents. UCLA faces tough tests in Pool C, and each of Carleton College, British Columbia, Pittsburgh and Texas hopes to end up atop the pool come Saturday afternoon.

Pool D

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The pool that often earns the "Pool of Death" moniker maintains its reputation in 2015. On the surface, Colorado Kali is the clear favorite to come out of the pool unscathed. However, troubles with their offense creating clear scoring opportunities has plagued the team for much of the season. As the season progressed, the issue lessened, but on the national stage, it could still come back to haunt Kali. With four opponents that pride themselves on defense, Colorado has a tough road ahead of them. Virginia Hydra especially focuses on their defense, with depth that allows their "second team" to be as potent as their lines laced with star players. Throughout the season, their depth has allowed Hydra to rest key players, while still racking up points at a surprisingly fast pace. Next up are the Whitman Lady Sweets, the surprise second-place finisher at Northwest Regionals. There is no doubt they had a strong season, but at regionals, Whitman jumped to another, more complete level of play. On both sides of the disc, they confidently dispatched opponents, and that type of game is exactly what the other members of Pool D should be worried about from the Lady Sweets. They have players capable of taking over a game, but have long lacked a total ability to dominate opponents of all levels. Regionals was an entirely different story for Whitman, and they look to continue that story now. As Kansas Betty enters the weekend, they hope to do so without any of the nagging injuries that limited their team during the spring. Still, they have shown a penchant for success this season with big wins at Florida Winter Classic, Centex and at their conference and regional tournaments. Finally, rounding out Pool D, the tournament’s 20th seed, is Princeton Clockwork Orange. They can prove to be much more than their seed states. With familiar faces from top club teams and the U.S. U-19 National Team, Princeton has players who are accustomed to the bigger stage that the College Championships provide. And lately for Clockwork Orange, the bigger the stage, the better they’ve played. They will certainly need to play better than they have at any other point this season if they want to come out of any pool play game victorious, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.

Players to Watch

  • Bethany Kaylor (Oregon Fugue) – Fugue’s Callahan nominee is poised to have a huge tournament. Kaylor’s versatile nature on the field will be utilized heavily as Oregon makes a deep run towards another national championship.

  • Kelsey Fink (Notre Dame WOMB) – One of the leaders of the Notre Dame squad, Fink will set out to use her throwing ability to help prove wrong those who doubt her team.

  • Michela Meister (Stanford Superfly) – Meister has been one of Superfly’s biggest threats all season long on a team full of playmakers. That trend should continue in Milwaukee for her and team.

  • Jenna Galleta (Ohio State Fever) – With big shoes to fill only one year removed from a Fever championship, Galleta certainly has the pedigree to do so. Watch for her hucks to pick apart the opposition’s defense.

  • Margot Stert (UCLA BLU) – The senior handler for UCLA finds herself playing a lot of points for BLU, but she is always up for the challenge and has become a standout in the division.

  • Mira Donaldson (British Columbia Thunderbirds) – Wondering where you’ll see Donaldson’s impact? Look in the statistics columns for "goals" and "assists," and you’re bound to see huge numbers.

  • Nhi Nguyen (Colorado Kali) – After a successful summer with the U.S. U-19 National Team in 2014, Nguyen has had an impressive season for Kali so far. On both sides of the disc, she has evolved into one of Colorado’s top players, and she’s only a sophomore.

  • Alika Johnston (Virginia Hydra) – One of the Hydra captains, Johnston has helped Virginia re-emerge as a dangerous team at the College Championships. Now, after helping them improve their final standing in the last couple years, she hopes to add an even deeper tournament run in 2015 to Hydra’s history.

Upset Alert


Pool C is not friendly to Carleton College, especially in what may prove to be an off year after a few seasons of graduating some of their top talent. Their schedule pits them against both Pittsburgh and UCLA in day one and leaves British Columbia for their final pool play game on Saturday. One slip and Carleton could fall into an undesirable pre-quarterfinals game. A second slip and the championship bracket could be unattainable for Syzygy.


Rising Stock


Buy now on any and all stock associated with the undefeated Notre Dame WOMB. They will be a popular pick for upsets, or even as a failure to make the championship bracket. But they aren’t undefeated by mistake and have some early challenges to acclimate them to the national scene. Plus, with a typically strong sideline presence to help will them to victory, WOMB could turn a few heads in Milwaukee.



Games to Watch

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Oregon v. Notre Dame (Friday, 10:30 a.m.)

With so many question marks surrounding Notre Dame and how they will perform on the national stage, the very first pool play game for each of these teams will certainly be worth watching. A win here helps Oregon knock off one of their challengers, a loss though opens up Pool A to all teams.

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Dartmouth  v. Ohio State (Friday, 8:30 a.m.)

If Stanford runs away with the pool, as they’ve done at tournaments almost all season, this game between the Pool B’s two and three seeds becomes extremely important. If Dartmouth can lay waste to the defending champions, the landscape for bracket play could differ significantly from past years.

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UCLA v. British Columbia (Saturday, 10:30 a.m.)

After British Columbia fumbled a bit at Northwest Regionals, they have a chance to usurp the third overall seed and position themselves well for a deep run in bracket play. But UCLA could cement their position atop the pool with a win and give their top performers some needed rest before Sunday play.

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Colorado v. Kansas (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.)

The regional rivals meet again, this time with even bigger stakes. Out of three meetings, Kansas Betty has the upper hand with two wins. Still, Colorado has had the more impressive season and earned the South Central title. Look for a close game against two teams very familiar with each other.

Fast Facts

  • The Milwaukee Ultimate Club and Uihlein Soccer Park previously hosted the 2013 D-III College Championships, won by Middlebury (men's) and Bowdoin (women’s).

  • Thirteen teams return from the 2014 College Championships, including all of the semifinalists, leaving seven new teams this year: Dartmouth, Florida State, Middlebury, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Princeton and Texas.

  • Princeton last attended the D-I College Championships in 1999, but attended the D-III College Championships (in Appleton, Wis., no less) in 2013. Notre Dame attends the championships for the first time since 2003, while Florida State makes their first-ever College Championships appearance.

  • Colorado Kali picked up some experienced "rookies" this season. The average age of their rookie line is 21.5. The average age of their team is 21.2.

  • Carleton College Syzygy (Northfield, Minn.) has only one player from the state of Minnesota on their roster.

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