These rankings and the 2014 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate.
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A month into the spring season, tournaments are being snowed out by the leftovers of the polar vortex and many teams still haven’t truly begun their season in earnest. However, the early season offers a more detailed snapshot of several teams who have played games and areas of the division as a whole. Skyd took this opportunity to re-evaluate and update our previous rankings based off of tournament performances and direct correspondence with teams. Additionally, these rankings include the top teams from all ten regions, making this a more educated guess of the D-III Women’s teams that might make it to the Championships this year. Hit it.
1. Valparaiso “Chicks Hucking Discs”
Valparaiso’s “Chicks Hucking Discs” has maintained the top spot in this second edition of Skyd’s Power Rankings. While this team has been training up until now and has not as of yet competed in any sanctioned spring tournaments, tune in March 1st for College Tour coverage of Midwest Throwdown as they face other top-tier teams such as Claremont, Truman State and Carleton in the predictably unforgiving St. Louis weather. Additionally they have clinched the #1 seed–and even a sponsorship–to The Rock Tournament in late March. As the outstanding favorite in the small Great Lakes Region, these upcoming spring tournaments will be critical indicators of the layout of the season, and the main time to watch seasoned players such as defensive dynamo Abby Matter match up against teams that they won’t face again until the Championships in Westerville, OH.
2. St. Benedict “Bad Habits”
With the exception of rookies, many of whom already have several years of ultimate notched into their belt, the Bad Habits are no stranger to high level ultimate after last year’s successful season and D-III Championships appearance. A winning trait of St. Ben’s is their thoughtful approach to the game: it’s a mix of furious athleticism on defense and a smart, clean game on offense. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the team this year has maintained a behemoth of an offensive line, featuring Erynn Schroeder, Kaylee Matthews and Kelsey Peterson. The Bad Habits will be at High Tide over Spring Break and also at the Chicago Invite with #1 ranked Valparaiso–we’ll be waiting with bated breath to see who comes out on top in that matchup.
3. Rice “Torque”
Rice’s Torque entrance onto the D-III scene will likely be a huge new shift in the division’s playing field. Traditionally playing up to D-I, Torque captains and powerhouses Monica Matsumoto and Erika Danckers have decided to lead their team to rejoin Division III. After sweeping D-III Warmup and ending the weekend undefeated and fairly unchallenged against strong programs such as Claremont and Carleton, it is fair to say that this “new kid on the block” is a force to be reckoned with. Rice’s style of play is highly dependent on the impressive athleticism and frisbee smarts of Matsumoto, Danckers and sophomore Nichole Kwee–but the team is working to develop their newer players to share the love and develop a resilient program that very well could dominate the division for years to come.
4. Claremont “Greenshirts”
It’s no secret that Claremont has some top notch frisbee players–many of whom were showcased at D-III Warmup. Captain and playmaker Tasha Arvanitis is triumphantly recovered from last season’s ankle injury and has blasted back onto the scene. Additionally, sophomore Marianna Heckendorn is an energetic handler with full-field pulls and a heightened level of defensive awareness. Sure, these strengths are common knowledge to anyone who follows the division, but one of the Greenshirts best-kept secrets is the consistent strength of the team as a unit. Their goals scored at D-III Warmup were spread fairly evenly throughout their roster, and the Greenshirts sideline is just as engaged as the seven on the field. It is this hard-to-find combination of star power and team reliability that makes Claremont a successful team year after year, and we expect great things from them this spring.
5. Bowdoin “Chaos Theory”
The reigning champions have yet to play in a spring tournament, but they are expected to come out in full force for “Bring the Huckus” on the first weekend in March. This tournament will show how this year’s travel team–selected from Bowdoin’s nearly fifty person roster–will fare against D-I and D-III teams alike. While this year’s Chaos Theory has a different style than the group that went undefeated for all of Spring 2013, its restructuring will likely bring out new faces and recruits who have largely benefited from this transition year. Players to watch include freshman Kate Powers, senior Zoe Karp and sophomore Anna Leon who scored or assisted over twenty points at Nationals last year.
6. Williams “La Wufa”
Much like Bowdoin, Williams has transitioned to a radically different team composition for the 2014 competitive season. Their showing at Big D in Little d in Denton, Texas matched them up earned them 9th place over some Division I Teams and behind #3 Rice who ended up winning the tournament. Watch for new additions to La Wufa such as 5’11” Alex Albright and freshman Krystina Lincoln play several other D-III Championship contenders at Garden State. Captain Emma Rouse says that this season their positive team dynamic is “better than ever” and that through dedicated practice, they are working to develop on-field connections and trust in eachother that will lead La Wufa to success this spring.
7. Truman State “TSUnami”
TSUnami started off the spring season by winning first place at HUX, ending the weekend 7 – 0. TSU has high hopes for this year, and has made it a team goal to make it past quarters at nationals this year. To succeed in this goal, the captains are focusing on heightening their collective physicality and identifying the most rewarding on-field combinations and tactics for this year’s squad. A central player that TSUnami may rally around is junior Maddy Niehaus, who had thirteen D’s at last year’s natties and has developed into an overall threat on offense as well. TSU competes in the South Central region, which now also encompasses D-III newcomer Rice “Torque.” While they are yet to play eachother this season, we expect that this powerhouse matchup would be a great game at Regionals. After only having one bid to Nationals in 2013, both TSUnami and Rice should comfortably earn bids for the region this year.
8. Carleton “Eclipse”
Eclipse also took the long trip to D-III Warmup and found tough competition in both Rice and Claremont, ending the tournament in third place. While Carleton’s first spring tournament didn’t end in a wooden disc trophy, captain Claire Leichter was able to pinpoint certain aspects to improve upon–watch for her interview in forthcoming Skyd video coverage! With this thoughtful leadership, Lucinda Robinson’s deep cutting and beautiful puts from Kalli Perano’s and Leichter herself, Skyd still expects Eclipse to be a critical team in the league this season.
9. Bentley “Wobus Salt ‘N Peppa”
No doubt training hard indoors due to snowy northeast conditions, Bentley WoBus hasn’t attended any spring tournaments as of yet. WoBus stays in our top ten due to a historically strong program and hard-to-beat players such as senior Sydney Southern and Christine Westgate. Keep an eye out for the on-field connection between these two–last year’s championships had them scoring a majority of their team’s points and they are poised to do the same at Boston Midnight Madness, their first spring tournament.
10. Elon “Wild Rumpus”
Elon begins their spring season this coming weekend at Ashevillian Invite, where they might play against frisbee giants North Carolina. Wild Rumpus will likely use this early spring tournament to give their talented rookies and underclassmen some spring season experience, so keep an eye out for freshman Catie Ryan and sophomores Kerianne Durkin, Brittany DiRienzo and Aelish Aoki.
11. Georgia College “Lynx Rufus”
Captains Katie Pulliam and Paige Carver led Georgia College’s Lynx Rufus to their first spring tournament Joint Summit Classic XXXII in South Carolina the last weekend of January. Lynx Rufus ended with a record of 1-5, beating the Clemson Alumni team and meeting tough competition against several big D-I schools of the south. Matching up against such strong teams early on in the season is good exposure to high-level ultimate, and we expect this experience to benefit Georgia College at tournaments later in the spring.
12. Mary Washington “Mary Massacre”
Massacre will be playing in their first spring tournament this coming weekend–and it promises to be a tough one. JMU’s Bonanza has many Division I competitors as well as a few D-III faces like Wake Forest sprinkled in. Fiona Curtis will have to lead the team with careful intelligence in this first foray of 2014. They’ll also be playing mixed at High Tide in the mixed division with their men’s team, and will finish off the pre-series season at River City Lights where they’ll get the chance to pit themselves against Williams and D-I teams in their region.
13. Gettysburg “Ferocious Chickpeas”
Gettysburg is a newer program than many of the others listed here, but following a 27-3 fall season complete with definitive wins against several D-III teams and D-I teams such as the College of New Jersey and Princeton, Gettysburg should get on the national radar. With a roster of 21 players this spring, the Chickpeas are fronted by captain Sara Putnam, who plays with club team Trouble in Paradise. Additionally, keep an eye on Karenna Genzlinger, Molly Reynolds and Liz Grimes when Gettysburg plays at High Tide over spring break. A scrappy team with a lot of wins under their belt, the Ferocious Chickpeas may be stymied from attending Ohio Valley Regionals due to pre-planned college events (oh graduation, always so poorly timed). In that case, the OV may be won by Haverford, Oberlin or Wooster. This will definitely be a region to watch, and Gettysburg is set to be a highlight.
14. Drake “iBex”
Drake is a part of the powerful North Central region, but iBex is starting to move out of the shadow of powerful competitors Carleton and St. Ben’s and is growing into a reputable program of their own. The team composition features a strong group of vets such as captains Kristiana Preus and Lauren Perucco, who played for Madison Heist last club season, and on-field leaders Nora Sullivan and Rebekah Reynolds.This year Drake appears fairly unflappable, with consistent ability for longs, in-cuts and handler movement–this reliability may have developed from their savage tournaments in the past where accuracy and energy conservation is key. Watch for iBex at Midwest Throwdown (a part of the Skyd College Tour) and Chicago Invite.
15. Puget Sound “Clearcut”
UPS Clearcut qualified for D-III Championships last year but was unable to make the long trip to Milwaukee with their men’s team. This year, this scrappy Northwest squad started out the season at D-III Warmup and began the tournament trading points with first seed #4 Claremont. Although the game ended 13-9 for the Greenshirts, Clearcut’s intensity was tough to keep up with even for the likes of this powerhouse program. Senior Marie Panchesson and leads the charge for this team, with bidding machine sophomore Becca Ebert and snatchy Ellen Kalenscher heightening the energy level in every game they play. Barring a dramatic entrance by Whitman or Pacific Lutheran back onto the D-III stage, Puget Sound is likely to have a successful season over the other smaller Northwest teams.
16. SUNY – Oneonta “Love$eat”
Love$eat returns this year with a similar roster to last year after only losing two players through graduation and transfers. Oneonta has two new freshman handlers, Marlaina Lutz and Hayley Mattice, to supplement the strong handling of Erica Bornhoft, who threw 46 points at last year’s Championships. Love$eat’s major competition may come from SUNY-Cortland, who was close behind Oneonta at last year’s qualifying tournament.