The Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization traveled north to Dartmouth for the Northeastern Regional Championships. The top two finishers in the tournament were awarded spots at the National Championships in Boulder, CO in three weeks, and WUFO went into the weekend hoping for one of those spots. Unfortunately, Williams had difficulty capitalizing on its opportunities during the weekend, and finished fourth behind Brown, Yale and Harvard.
The weekend began with a game against Brown’s B-team, which WUFO won 15-6. Williams beat Brown-B earlier in the spring by a score of 13-2, but the team started this game lacking intensity and didn’t give the young Brown team the respect they deserved. After the Ephs got warmed up, though, they controlled the disc and were able to finish the game quickly.
The next game was against UMass. Some diehard WUFO fans might have seen last week’s home match up between WUFO and Umass, which went down to the final point before WUFO was able to pull out the victory 13-11. UMass was no match for the Purple Cows this week, however, as Williams took the game by a score of 15-5. The name of this game was Anton Blaikie ’99. On offense, Blaikie constantly eluded his defender and kept the disc moving upfield. Out to an early lead of 4-1, WUFO knew that they had to blow the game open early. That is exactly what happened as senior Jon Soslow made an outstanding defensive block and then caught the pass in the end zone for the score.
The momentum of this point carried Williams through to an 8-2 halftime lead. After the first half, it was more of the same as Williams continued to destroy any kind of defense that UMass could think up. Senior captain Dan Niedzwiecki found Duncan Meiklejohn ’01 for the first score after half. Bailey McCallum ’01 made a defensive block that eventually led to another Meiklejohn score. A beautiful full-field pass from Niedzwiecki to Britton Mann ’00 decided the game with a final of 15-5.
The UMass game set the stage for what would be the most important game of WUFO’s entire season. Yale was seeded second in the region, and they had beaten WUFO earlier in the spring. Williams was out for revenge. Yale was much more confident in the first half, taking a 8-5 lead into halftime. WUFO wasn’t about to give up, though. Blaikie continued his amazing play of the previous game by either throwing or receiving WUFO’s next five scores.
The comeback tied the game at 10-10, but the Yale club did not lose its intensity as it capitalized on every Williams turnover to regain the lead 13-10. The momentum continued changing hands with Soslow playing amazing defense to force a Yale turnover and then making a diving catch in the end zone to bring the score to 14-13 in favor of Yale. Yale was only one point away from victory while Williams was one point away from tying the game at 14.
The Purple Cows forced Yale to turnover the disc three times, and even had two dropped passes in the end zone, but Yale eventually found an open man for the game’s final point to win the game 15-13. It was a heartbreaking loss for Williams, but the double-elimination tournament was not yet over.
On Sunday morning Williams matched up against Tufts. A young team that has improved over the course of the season, Tufts was definitely capable of coming up with an upset. The Tufts side started the game strong, taking an 8-6 lead at halftime, but Williams was not ready to have its season end so soon. Williams stepped up the defensive pressure, and Tufts could not hold on.
WUFO outscored Tufts in the second half 9-1. In the Williams zone defense, Matt Wessler ’01 and Garry Sanders ’02 were unstoppable as they forced Tufts to continually turnover the disc. The final score of 15-9 demonstrated Williams’ unwillingness to let Tufts anywhere near the Ephs’ end zone in the second half.
Unfortunately for Williams, the momentum of the Tufts game did not carry over into the game against Harvard. WUFO has had a hard time playing with confidence in the big games all season, and the Ephs were unable to reverse that trend on Sunday. The first half was very tight, as each team forced the other’s offense to its limits. There were many turnovers, but neither Harvard nor Williams was able to capitalize on the opportunities. With the score tied at three apiece, WUFO had the momentum on its side, but the tide would soon turn as Harvard was able to connect for three straight. After Harvard took the half by a score of 8-5, Williams had trouble playing a patient zone offense and gave up the disc to Harvard too many times. Niedzwiecki and Mann were able to connect for one more score, but the second half was all Harvard as they won the game 15-6.
WUFO had an outstanding year, and despite the disappointment of not making Nationals, the team is still looking forward to its bright future. This year’s amazing senior class will be sorely missed, but they have provided the underclassmen with a strong foundation for future success.