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Wednesday August 10th

UNC men's and women's Ultimate Frisbee teams earn back-to-back national championships

UNC women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Pleiades, and UNC men's Ultimate Frisbee team pose at the 2022 USA Ultimate D-I College Championships in Milwaukee, Wis. On May 30, 2022, both teams secured unprecedented repeat championships. Photo courtesy of Brian Whittier.
Buy Photos UNC women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Pleiades, and UNC men's Ultimate Frisbee team pose at the 2022 USA Ultimate D-I College Championships in Milwaukee, Wis. On May 30, 2022, both teams secured unprecedented repeat championships. Photo courtesy of Brian Whittier.

The UNC women’s Ultimate Frisbee team, Pleiades, and the UNC men's Ultimate Frisbee team, Darkside, both won back-to-back national championships at the USA Ultimate D-I College Championships in Milwaukee, Wis. 

In December, after a delayed season, UNC became the first school since 1990 to win both men’s and women’s Division I titles. On Monday, the two club teams secured unprecedented repeat championships.

The No. 1 Pleiades faced and conquered Stanford and Georgia in pool play on Friday and Saturday. The Tar Heels then secured a 15-12 victory over No. 6 British Columbia in the quarterfinal round, followed by a 15-8 triumph over No. 4 UC-Santa Barbara in the semifinals.

UNC faced No. 2 Colorado in the title game. The match was a hard-fought battle, coming down to the last point, but ended 12-11 in UNC’s favor.

“It was harder than the last one, which made the win even sweeter,” team captain Alex Barnett said.

Barnett led the offense in the championship game, scoring three goals, including the game winner, as well as contributing four assists.

The Pleiades, whose name comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning "seven sisters," leaned on their close-knit culture as they advanced through the tournament. 

“​​I would describe our team culture as supportive and caring,” Dawn Culton, senior player and recipient of the 2022 Callahan Award, said. “We’re a group of really competitive people who work really hard and care a lot about each other. In many ways, we are a family.” 

The Callahan Award is presented every year to the most valuable college player who displays remarkable skill, sportsmanship, leadership and dedication to the sport. Culton receiving the honor was the cherry on top of a remarkable season for her and the Pleiades.

The Pleiades' thrilling victory occurred just as Darkside began to warm up for its championship game.

“There is a nice, tight relationship between the men's and women's teams,” first-year Henry Chen said. 

The closeness between the two teams helped to fuel Darkside’s energy as they took the field to warm up for its championship game.

“The Pleiades won and now it's our turn,” Chen said, reflecting on the sentiment as the team took the field.

Darkside is a well-established team with an impressive résumé including national championships in 2015, 2018 and 2021. This is a team that is not used to being the underdog. However, in this year’s championship game, they not only faced a top-ranked team in Brown, but also the same team that secured the championship over Darkside in 2019.

Instead of shying away from the challenge, Darkside came out swinging, establishing a quick 2-0 lead and never looking back.

“Our games weren’t all easy over the course of the weekend, and our mantra all tournament was to be aggressive, and to take rather than to wait,” senior captain Andrew Li said.

No. 3 UNC held its early lead and defeated No. 1 Brown, 15-10 in a striking underdog victory. 

“It definitely felt electric,” Li said.

Chen credited Darkside’s thrilling game to enthusiastic players both on the field and on the sideline. He compared the team’s energy and cheering to having a home-court advantage. 

“We’re like a family,” Chen said. “We depend on each other, and we are willing to sacrifice for each other. We are always there for each other.”

With Darkside and Pleiades defending their national championships, UNC’s reputation as a “Frisbee school,” as the Pleiades' Twitter account so aptly put it, may very well be solidified.

@sarahrschulz

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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