Located in Seattle, The University of Washington boasts 40k+ students, a central location in the hippest city in the northwest, and a promise that save a week or two at the start of the year, you won’t see the sun till the last weekend before finals. In a state with a strong tradition of Ultimate at the college and club level, UW has held the spot of top dog at the college level for several years.In recent years UW has benefited from the coaching of Pat McCarthy and Gabe Pedersen and as well as a growing association with Seattle Sockeye.
The 2011 season saw UW playing in a NW region which looked very different from the year before. Missing were Cal, Stanford, and UCSC; teams which in past years presented obstacles on the road to the big show. From the start of the season it was clear UW would be in the hunt for a bid to nationals the team featured a good group of returners, and talented players with lots of experience at the Club level.
Their first tournament of the regular season, the Santa Barbara Invite, saw them reach the finals with wins over traditional powerhouse UCSB, and 2011 Nationals attendee UCSC. Their only loss came in the finals to the 4th seed overall at this year’s college championships, UBC.
Their next tournament appearance, the Presidents Day Classic, although not resulting in as high a finish, proved that UW was for real. Finishing the tournament with a 4-4 record, featuring a win over nationals bound Colorado College, UW lost 3 games by 1 point, and the other by only two. To this point in the season UW had lost 5 games by a total of 6 points.
Their standing within the region was put in to doubt by their loss to Whitman 8-13 at the Stanford Invite, but close losses to Harvard and Colorado by a two points each pointed to fatigue and injury being the cause. A good showing at Centex finished out the regular season.
Going into the NW Conference Championships the general consensus was that UBC and Oregon were the top two teams, followed by UW. However, a pool play victory over Oregon (15-11), followed by 16-17 defeat to the ducks the next day meant that even though UW eventually finished 3rd in the region, the top three teams were a lot closer than most people thought. Going into Regionals, UW looked very strong.
NW Regionals was essentially a tournament to decide the seeding for the top three teams. While the fight for the final seed to nationals, eventually taken by Whitman, was more competitive, the top three faced no serious threats from anyone but themselves. UW secured the third bid to nationals after losing only to Oregon (7-13, 11-14), hopefully silencing all critics.