TSC Women’s Ultimate – T-Birds 3rd in North America!

Receiving praise around the ultimate community and a plethora of national team players on the roster, this year’s Women’s Ultimate roster was a powerhouse in the USAU Div-I circuit. Coming off a 5th place finish the previous year, and ranked as high as #2 in North America this season, these ‘birds had their eyes on bringing a championship up north.

How did they get here?

It was apparent from the start of the season that this team was a force to be reckoned with. In December, Ultimate Canada revealed their rosters for the 2024 World Flying Disc Federation’s (WFDF) U24 Ultimate Championships, and a staggering 11 athletes (a little less than half their roster) were named to either the Women’s or Mixed team – see the list of T-Birds on the roster here. A bright future was indicated at their first competition as their rookies dominated at the Bellingham Invite. So much so, that Jenalyn Ng earned the TSC Athlete of the Month honours for January 2023.

The team dropped a total of 2 games in the season, in the quarterfinals of the Stanford Invite against University of Washington and the semifinals of the Northwest Challenge against the Colorado Quandry – each game being tightly contested.

Their return to form came at Sectionals where they finished the tournament undefeated and that streak would live on at regionals where they were crowned champions of the Northwest Region. With the ‘birds continuing their hot streak, they came into nationals in peak form.

 

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Day 1

(3) UBC Thunderbirds 15 – 12 (6) Carleton College Syzergy

The first matchup of the day was played against #6 seed Carleton. This time last year, the rankings were flipped with Carleton entering the tournament as the third seed and UBC entering as the sixth seed. In a tightly contested game, the ‘birds ended up falling short 15-14. That loss affected their group seeding which put them up against eventual champions, UNC Pleiades in the quarterfinals. This was the first time they’ve faced off since then, with similar stakes this time around.

This game was played on the showcase field, with both teams getting extra attention from the broadcasting team from USA Ultimate. UBC came out to an early lead with multiple breaks to take half, 8-4. Carleton clawed back in the second half with multiple breaks to bring the game within 3 but the game finished with your ‘birds on top 15-12.

TSC’s 2023 Athlete of the Year, Madison Ong finished the game with 3 goals and 3 assists to earn Spin Ultimate Player of the Game for her performance.

(3) UBC Thunderbirds 15 – 3 (19) University of Chicago Supernova

This matchup marked the first time these schools have faced each other. The ‘birds dispatched the Supernova quickly, putting up lots of long bombs and converting them into goals. Monica Hsu was the high-point getter, coming down with 1 goal and putting up 3 assists to go with the win. This connection from Ella Bolan to Grace Huang capped off a 15-3 performance to finish the day 2-0.

 

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Day 2

(3) UBC Thunderbirds 15 – 2 (19) University of Texas – Dallas Whiplash

The Thunderbirds flexed their defensive prowess this match, holding the University of Texas – Dallas to 2 points before going on a 12-0 run to finish the game. Helena Tremblay led the ‘birds with 4 goals and 1 assist this game.

(3) UBC Thunderbirds 15 – 5 (10) University of California – Santa Barbara Burning Skirts

To finish off Day 2, UBC was up against UCSB, who made the semi-finals at last year’s national tournament. With a large number of their roster returning this year, the ‘birds were ready to compete.

This year’s rookie class made a huge effort on the D-Line, spurring 6 consecutive breaks to go up 9-2. In the second half, the ‘Birds let up 3 goals but were able to finish the game 15-5 with Ella Bolan being the leading points-getter this game, connecting with her teammates in the end zone for 5 assists.

 

Day 3

Quarterfinals – (3) UBC Thunderbirds 15 – 11 (5) Tufts Ewo

The last time these teams matched up was in pool play at the Stanford Invite with UBC coming out on top, 11-8. UBC went up with two early breaks, but Tufts held their own leading up to the end of the first half with the score being 8-6 in favour of UBC. Tufts kept trading points with UBC, keeping the game within 1 until the ‘birds went on a 4-1 run to end the match. A strong 3 goal, 3 assist performance from Mika Kurahashi helped hold off Tufts and send UBC to the semifinals.

Semifinals – (3) UBC Thunderbirds 12 – 15 (2) Colorado Quandary

The final game of the day, bright Sunday night lights, an electric crowd atmosphere, and an ESPN broadcast – these set the stage for the semifinals. The last time these teams faced off was the semifinals of the Northwest Challenge, in which UBC fell short 11-13 – one of the 2 games dropped by UBC their whole season.

The team went down early due to some unforced errors but kept the score within 3 goals as Colorado took half 8-5. Despite being down, the T-Birds defense was sharp on the night, highlighted by Mika Kurahashi making a number of big plays, including this double block showing off her athleticism.

 

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Madi Ong connected with a diving Catie Akune on this highlight reel play to make the score 10 – 14 but they couldn’t catch up to the Quandary, with the game finishing 10-15.

 

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Colorado went on to play UNC in the finals and UBC finished the tournament tied for third place, holding the seed they entered the tournament with.

What’s next for their athletes?

Many of their athletes will leave at the end of June to compete at the WFDF World U-24 Ultimate Championships for the Women’s and Mixed Divisions. Once they return, they will continue their club seasons with other ‘Birds and gear up for the Canadian Club Nationals happening in Surrey, BC this August.

Women’s Ultimate would like to thank their sponsors Jointworks Chiropractic and BE Ultimate for their support of the team this year. Additionally, would like to extend a huge thank you to the parents who helped support them on championship weekend and during many weekends throughout the season, the men’s team for their support and camaraderie throughout the season and those cheering them on from home.