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Welcome back to our 2013 Women’s Division Power Rankings! After a slew of huge tournaments like Queen City Tune-Up, Presidents’ Day, and Stanford Invite we’ve revised our Preseason Rankings to reflect our current views on the relative strengths of the country’s top women’s teams. Each week we will include some teams we want to call out as noteworthy and look forward to the ensuing discussion.
Oregon Fugue (#1)
With another win under their belt, Oregon Fugue is quickly proving they are the team to beat this season. It’s not just that they are rolling teams, they also come back from deficits with scrappy D to win tight games. Their clam defense gives opposing teams fits, and they have such a deep roster of playmakers that create matchup problems if they face any man defenses. Sophomore Bethany Kaylor walked away with the 2013 Spin Ultimate MVP Jersey at Stanford Invite, but another weekend it could have been any of five other Fugue teammates.
British Columbia Thunderbirds (#2)
UBC and Oregon will fight for the number one spot in the Northwest and on our list. For now, Oregon takes the top spot with two wins over UBC to the Thunderbirds’ one. But Traffic players Mira Donaldson and Amira Maddison missed Stanford Invite, and their return to the field could cause some real trouble for Fugue in the series.
Iowa Saucy Nancy (#3)
Saucy heads into Centex first in preliminary seedings. Though the team dropped a game in semis to Carleton at QCTU, Saucy’s uncharacteristic errors sabotaged numerous opportunities to score. Their performance at Midwest Throwdown indicates that they have better command over their dynamic play style, and will be the team to beat out of the North Central.
Wisconsin Bella Donna (#4)
Wisconsin has shaken off the dust, finally resembling the team with all the potential in the world. Their man-to-man offense is firing on all cylinders, with cutters like Biz Cook who are not afraid to continue the disc downfield. With handlers who can move downfield in offensive flow, Bella Donna will take advantage of any mismatch they have. Defensively, they are on the same page, with Sara Scott leading as a defensive stalwart, and one of the few players able to slow down Oregon’s Kaylor.
California-Santa Barbara Burning Skirts (#8)
Santa Barbara drops a bit this week due to what seems like a mid-season plateau. While the Skirts are still the team to beat in the Southwest, they’re going to need some work to break back into the top 5. But if any team is capable of riding two superstars to a College Championships victory, it’s the Skirts.
Minnesota Ninjas (#11)
The Ninjas have arrived as a true threat out of the North Central this season. Their fluid offense relies on executing on transition. Don’t be fooled: though this team has extremely talented handlers, their cutters have disc skills and aren’t afraid to use them. Minnesota features two dynamic sister duos to keep an eye on: Emily and Natalie Depalma and Emily and Greta Regan.
Northwestern Gung Ho (#17)
With Lien Hoffman back in the lineup, Northwestern has all the pieces they need to shred any zone they want to. With quick give and go handler movement, Hoffman’s popping skills and ability to continue the disc up the field adds another element offensively that was lacking earlier this season.
Central Florida (#20)
We saw UCF’s dominant handlers stand out in pool play at QCTU. One that was lacking was cutting flow. Their performance at Music City Mashup indicates that the Sirens’ handler chemistry is connecting with cutters downfield.
Pittsburgh and Victoria both narrowly missed out on the top 20 this week. Pittsburgh has been flirting with the rankings all season, but blowout losses to UCF and questions over how strong Michigan and UNCW really are, two teams Danger’s beaten this year, keep them on the outside looking in. Victoria drops out of the top 20 after UCSB and Stanford show capable performances at Pres Day and Stanford Invite, while Victoria is unable to qualify out of Stanford Open – losing to Western Washington in semifinals. Rather than elevate Western, it seems more likely that Victoria’s Santa Barbara victory was just an early-season oddity as teams battled U-23 tryouts and high winds. They’ll need to prove us wrong in the Series to break back in, as it seems unlikely they’ll play another regular season tournament.
Texas, Michigan, and UNCW all fall out of the top 20 as they’ve failed to live up to their preseason hype. Texas would have stayed in before this past weekend, but a disastrous showing at the Music City Mash-Up drops them out. Michigan has struggled to replace Callahan-winner Paula Seville and fellow graduates Vicki Chang, Marisa Mead, and Kelsey Delave, posting a solid win against UNC at Queen City Tune-Up, but falling to Northeastern, Florida State, and Pittsburgh twice. UNC-Wilmington still has Claire Chastain, but that hasn’t translated into wins the way the Atlantic Coast team had hoped. All three teams will hope to break back in to the top 20 with a strong Centex showing in a week and a half.
Notes by regular Women’s Division contributors Maya Ziv, Robyn Fennig, and Ryan Thompson.