This weekend, the Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization braved the perils of New Haven to compete in the Yale Cup, one of the most competitive tournaments of the year. WUFO went into the tournament with high expectations but had a difficult time playing at their top level when the pressure was on. Saturday began with a crucial game against Cornell in which WUFO lacked confidence, and seemed tentative in the high winds which marked the day.
Jonathan Soslow ’99 showed off his incredible speed by diving past his man to get a defensive block, which eventually led to a Williams score, but that was one of the few first half highlights for Williams.
WUFO came into the second half trailing by only two, 6-4, and still feeling that the game was under control. But the Purple Cows continued making bad decisions on offense and throwing the disc away.
Cornell was able to capitalize on these mistakes and take the score to 9-6 before Britton Mann ’00 found Ben Warner ’99 in the end zone for the final Williams point.
Before WUFO was able to stage a comeback, the time cap went into effect and Cornell won the game 10-7.
Next up was Brown, the top-ranked team in the nation. Williams still had a few kinks to work out of their offense in the first half of this game, but in the second half, WUFO played neck-and-neck with the top team in the land.
Brown is known for their patient, flawless offense, but the swarming Williams defense gave them a lot of trouble throughout the game. After Brown ran out to an early lead, Williams started to gain some offensive momentum just before half time thanks to Anton Blaikie ’99 passing to Duncan Meiklejohn ’01 in the end zone.
Brown had a 6-2 lead at halftime, but that large lead would not last. The WUFO zone defense forced Brown to make a lot of passes and to eventually turn over the disc. The difference in the first and second halves was Williams’ ability to capitalize on these opportunities.
The most exciting play of the game came as Soslow laid out past Fortunat Mueller, Brown’s captain and the current favorite for national MVP, and then threw to Ted Satterthwaite ’00 to bring the score to 10-7. WUFO once again came up big as the zone defense forced a crucial turnover leading to a Niedzwiecki to Meiklejohn score on full-field pass.
Brown was finally able to put the tenacious Williams team away though with a final score of 11-8. It was an even closer game than Brown’s victory in the finals of the tournament. Williams definitely gained confidence by giving the top team in the nation such a close game.
The other two games on Saturday served as evidence that Williams had really hit its stride. Williams rolled over Columbia in the first half 6-1 to show that the strength of the wind is irrelevant when they are on their game. Alex Hassinger ’00 got an outstanding defensive block and then threw the score to Craig Tamamoto ’02.
Williams finished the game off with a score of 10-4 and then moved on to face Haverford. WUFO had no problem with Haverford early in the game as they sprinted out to a 6-1 lead at half. After the half, the pace settled down a bit, but Alan Baldivieso ’01 still came up with a huge catch on a long pass from Niedzwiecki for the score. The game finished at 10-5 in WUFO’s favor.
On Sunday, Williams avoided its typical first-game sluggishness and played with intensity against Little-Three rival Wesleyan. WUFO ran out to a 7-2 lead thanks to great defense by Mann, and team offense against Wesleyan’s zone defense. Austin Chang ’99 played hard defense to knock the disc away from his man and then caught the score from Wessler to take the score to 11-6 Williams. A Niedzwiecki to Mann pass in the end zone finished the game at 13-8.
The final game of the weekend pitted WUFO against regional rival and host team Yale. Yale halted Williams’ run for Nationals last spring, giving WUFO a serious desire for revenge. Unfortunately revenge will wait for another weekend because
Williams was plagued by the same mental errors on offense that caused them problems in the first game of the weekend against Cornell. After Williams took the first point of the game, Yale rattled off the next five thanks to WUFO’s constant turnovers.
Yale had a 7-3 lead at half and would increase that lead to 9-3 before Williams started to play with intensity and focus. Williams gained some momentum and was able to draw as close as 10-7 when Bailey McCallum ’01 passed to Meiklejohn for the score, but that would be the end of the comeback. Yale scored their final three points on unbelievable catches in the end zone to finish the game at 8-13 Yale.
In two weeks Williams will have a chance to redeem itself when the Western New England Sectional Championships are held right here in the Purple Valley.