Without Limits has hit the ground running with our two qualifier events, and this weekend, we’re headed to the Queen City Tune-Up in Charlotte.
Swarthmore has to decline their invitation to QCTU, which they won by making the finals of the Queen City Tune Up Qualifier, so Duke and James Madison will be joining an impressive field of teams that should give us a good idea of who the non-West Coast favorites are headed into the thick of the season. Early season tournaments are always an exciting opportunity to get a read on the division, see friends you haven’t seen in a while, and get geared up for the spring. One of the best things about College Women’s Ultimate is that every year new teams rise to the top and a new set of players leave their mark on our sport.
In this preview, we’ll take a look at how this tournament became a part of the Without Limits family, and check out some of the teams and players you should keep tabs on over the weekend.
Teams to Follow
The #1 seed and favorite going into the weekend is UNC-Wilmington Seaweed, coming off a 5th place finish at the 2010 College Championships and a tournament victory at CCC, the most competitive tournament of the fall. Seaweed has been one of the most interesting teams in the division over the past two years, and this season a recommitment to respectful and spirited play, the creation of a team Twitter account, and the rise of their home tournament, Women’s College Easterns, has them at the forefront of College Women’s Ultimate. This team has the personnel to be in the Semifinals at Nationals, and has shown time and time again that they have the heart and scrappiness to battle with the best of the division. Sara Casey and Kelly Tidwell have both returned for a 5th year, while two of the most underrated (and talented) players in the Atlantic Coast, Claire Chastain and Jessica “Patti” Patrick take over the reigns for Seaweed as captains. The beauty of Seaweed is that you never know what to expect- they’ll keep you on your toes at all times. If there is one thing I can expect, it’s that they will make their fans and friends very proud this spring.
Down the road from the Wilmington ladies are the host team UNC-Chapel Hill Pleiades. The Pleiades do things differently than Seaweed and that isn’t necessarily better or worse, it’s just different. This team is another QCTU attendee with a shot at the Semifinals of College Nationals in May. Returning this year are Callahan runner-up and multiple-time All-Region recipient Leila Tunnell, senior handler Janna Coulter (another hugely underrated player), and all-around player Lindsay Lang. Coached by mastermind Lindsey Hack, who is joined this year by Ring’s Raju Prasad and former University of Washington Element star Heather Ann Brauer, this team is loaded with talent and will have plenty of opportunities to test themselves. In addition to attending QCTU and Pres Day in February they plan on attending Women’s College Easterns and Women’s College Centex in March.
Northwestern, Wash U, and Pitt round out the list of 2010 College Championships qualifiers attending QCTU. All three teams have a shot at knocking off the top two seeds. Northwestern’s Lien Hoffman is among the top handful of players at this tournament, and her quiet, lead-by-example style should put her in strong contention for both the Callahan and All-Region honors both this season and next. Wash U lost its heart and soul with the graduation of Abby Stephens, but Stephens returns as a coach, joined by CLX’s Melissa Gibbs, who along with captain Sam Huo, is ready to lead the team into battle. Several players gained experience playing with St. Louis RevoLOUtion in the offseason, and the Sam Huo – Kami Groom connection is going to be unstoppable against many teams. Last but not least is Pitt. With a number of players gaining experience with Pittsburgh Hot Metal during the Club season, it will be interesting to see how they fill the roles of Christie Lawry, Molly Moore, and Susan Thomas, who have all graduated. 5th years Kelsey Lenard and Kayla Kleynen will lead an always-athletic Danger squad, and they should be a fun team to follow.
On the outside looking in are a number of other teams such as Cornell, Penn, Virginia, Dartmouth, and Ohio State. The new Regions mean new rivalries, figuring out new teams, and for some, a significantly easier path to Nationals.
It’s going to be an interesting tournament and an exciting spring.
Players to Watch
- Leila Tunnell (UNC)
- Sara Casey (UNCW)
- Kelly Tidwell (UNCW)
- Lien Hoffman (Northwestern)
- Kayla Kleynen (Pittsburgh)
- Sam Huo (Wash U)
- Jackie Booth (Cornell)
Though all will stand out as the best players on their respective teams, these players are also on this list because of the way they carry themselves both on and off the field. They are among the most respected in the division because of their commitment to Spirit of the Game and the way they make everyone else around them better. If you have the chance to watch these players this spring, you are in for a treat.
Not On Your Radar (Yet)
Old news you say? Here are some players who may not be on your radar… yet. You know them if you’re in their
Conference or Region, but a word of warning to those teams who haven’t faced them: watch out! These players can posterize your best players if you don’t pay close attention.
- Cassie Swafford (Ohio State)
- Kami Groom (Wash U)
- Bailey Moorhead (Pitt)
- Claire Chastain (UNCW)
- Jessica Patrick (UNCW)
- Lindsay Lang (UNC)
- Janna Coulter (UNC)
- Claire O’Brien (Wake Forest)
- Kennedy Wolfe (Wake Forest)
- Shannon McVey (Virginia)
The spring is here and some of the best college women’s teams in the country will be headed to Charlotte in just a few short days. Stay turned to Skyd and Without Limits for coverage of this weekend’s action as well as a recap of the event!
For the past couple of years, Lindsey Hack (UNC-Chapel Hill coach) and Leila Tunnell (UNC-Chapel Hill captain) have been two of my biggest supporters and most well-trusted friends. After last spring, I felt that my retirement from College Ultimate was imminent, but the Pleiades were one of a few teams whose positivity and class encouraged me greatly. Phoenix, the Women’s Club team that many of the Pleiades are a part of, played a large role in Philly Fusion last fall, helping run skills clinic, setting up table at the trade show, and lending a helping hand wherever needed. Near the end of the club season, Lindsey and Leila asked me to help the Pleiades run QCTU. They took advantage of my biggest weakness: my inability to say no. While every tournament Without Limits is involved with this spring has a special story, I could not be happier to be helping with QCTU. It is a huge privilege to run a tournament for two of my favorite people in the world.
One of the best parts of working on QCTU has been working with Lindsay Lang. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that Lang is the future of College Women’s Ultimate. You will be hard pressed to find any college player who works as hard, is as committed, organized, and has as much heart as Lindsay Lang. Lang cultivated so much interest in QCTU that the tournament expanded to include a 10-team qualifying tournament this year. She also helped to organize a showcase game and skills clinic as part of the Qualifier – all while captaining the Pleiades, studying Biochemisty, and reading the 3.86 emails per day that I have apparently been sending her since the beginning of the year. While the story behind the teams and players attending this tournament are immensely important, Lang deserves a paragraph of her own for the hard work she has put into this tournament, her team, and College Women’s Ultimate.