Two weeks after Oregon claimed their number 1 spot in the power rankings and the Presidents Day Invite championship, their front-runner status to win the National Championship will be tested again at the first major of College Ultimate this season. Washington and UCSB will have to battle it out in Pool B to avoid seeing Oregon before Finals.
14 teams are divided into two pools for the Stanford Invite, ranging from the West Coast to the East Coast. UNC, Pitt, Carleton and Tufts are all making the journey west to prove they have what it takes to play against the top competition in the Women’s game.
Pool A (E on Score Reporter) Seems to be the easier of the two. Oregon sits at the top as the clear 1 seed. UNC is an easy number 2, but it would still be a huge upset if the trio of Lang, Cohen and Couper could lead the Pleiades over Fugue. Maggie Ruden and Sonoma State enter the weekend as a serious a wild card. Santa Barbara was a huge weekend for them, but they did not show the same fire or ability at Pres Day. They need to regroup and figure out how they can go into deep, highly competitive tournaments without the depth of other teams. Colorado College is the biggest unknown in this pool. After spending last years National’s as the Cinderella story, they have the chance to to prove their finish was no fluke. Molly Sinnott can begin her All-Region campaign by helping lead CC to a strong finish. UBC and Cal in this pool can help show which region, North West or South West, is number 1.
Pool B (Pool F on Score Reporter) will be a fight to the finish for Washington and UCSB. Both teams know they are elite, but only one can move on without seeing Oregon in semifinals. They should both enter the final round of Saturday undefeated, as no other team in the pool will likely pose too great of a challenge. With more pool games on Sunday morning, it will be interesting to see how the losing team comes out in the morning as both play lower seeded teams.
Carleton, UCLA and Stanford will have a serious battle for the three seed with Syzygy having the best chance to steal some intraregional wins. There is no reason one of these three could not upset UCSB or Washington, but that would certainly be a stretch with the way the top two play. However, UCSB has shown some weakness this year and UCLA knows they have what it takes to bring the Burning Skirts down.
Pitt and Tufts will likely be outgunned by the West’s firepower and experience. Pitt needs a big win or two against anyone in the pool to give them confidence after a relatively slow start to their season.
Besides giving us a clear picture of who the number 1 team in the country will be after the weekend, the Stanford Invite will be an early indicator of where strength bids will be going. If Carleton or Pitt can get an upset, they could easily help bring a strength bid to their respective regions. Rivals like Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio State will need to root hard for their regions to do well in order to help themselves later in the season. This will also be a great test of the NW vs. the SW. One region will need to come out ahead if either wants to get more than 2 or 3 bids. If Oregon were to win it all this weekend, they would certainly have the momentum, confidence and likely an extra strength bid to ensure that, no matter what, they will be playing in Boulder come May.
Games to Watch:
- Round 1: UNC vs. Sonoma State
- Round 2: Carleton vs. Pitt
- Round 3: Oregon vs. Sonoma State
- Round 4: Cal vs. Colorado College
- Round 5: UCSB vs. Washington
- Round 6: UCSB vs. UCLA
- Round 7: UNC vs. Colorado College
- Round 8: UCLA vs. Pitt
- Semifinal: 1A vs. 2B (Oregon vs. ?)
Follow the action:
Our crack team or correspondents including Maya Ziv and Matt Davidman will be out at the fields all weekend covering games. Check back on Skyd for more information.
Feature photo by Andrew Davis