WUFO advances to semis at Yale

Traveling to New Haven this weekend, the Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization competed in the Yale Cup, one of the oldest and most prestigious Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. Coming off of a successful spring break trip during which the team played against some of the best teams in the nation at tournaments in Atlanta and Wilmington, WUFO was eager to see how they matched up against some of the Northeast’s top talent.

On Saturday, Williams’ first game was against Princeton, the top seed in their pool. WUFO combined enthusiasm with patience to score the first point in somewhat windy conditions. Excellent throws by Bailey McCallum ’01 and hard running by Duncan Meikeljohn ’01 set the tone for the entire weekend and took the team out to an early 6-2 lead.

Although Princeton battled back to make the score 7-5 at halftime, junior Matt Wessler’s aggressive offense and smart cutting by freshmen Jeremy Redburn and Ian Warrington kept WUFO on top. The teams traded points up to 11-10, at which point Williams decided to take control, making good use of the “Swedish” offense to finish the game 13-11.

Coming off this exciting victory, WUFO faced the strong Wesleyan team (who played through to the semifinals). Despite continuing to work hard on defense, Williams appeared to suffer a mental lapse. With many drops on both sides, things started to get messy and WUFO found themselves on the wrong side of a 7-12 deficit. Nonetheless, knowing that the next game against Dartmouth was the most important of the day, team captain Pete Jones ’01, kept the team’s spirits high with words of encouragement to match his incredible, body-sacrificing play.

This game pitted number 3 seed Dartmouth against number 4 seed Williams, and determined the next day’s seeding. By this point in the afternoon, the wind had become a major advantage to whichever team could score going into the wind (something like breaking serve in tennis).

Meikeljohn’s fantastic point defense led to an early score when he threw to the fast breaking Alan Baldivieso ’01, who dominated his defender and ripped the disc out of the sky.

The game stayed tight in the wind, but after Dartmouth took the first half 7-6, Williams came out pumped up as Pat Foyle ’01 scored on a Jones toss. The next point was a great team effort, as WUFO’s careful zone offense took the critical upwind point, 8-7. Time was running out and the game was capped at 10 points, but WUFO remained focused.

During game point, with the score tied 9-9, a defensive block by Yang Wang ‘01 led to Redburn’s winning layout catch of Meikeljohn’s throw through multiple defenders. In Saturday’s final game, WUFO demolished Yale B; Josh Frankel ’02 stepped up early to catch three scores before commanding play by McCallum and Baldivieso finished matters.

After exceeding expectations on Saturday, Williams was determined to keep up their intensity on Sunday despite miserable weather. Now, in addition to a competitive Haverford team, WUFO faced snow and high winds. The conditions meant that the team needed good zone defense, and Craig Tamamato ’02, Redburn and Foyle were all ready to run tirelessly to provide it.

WUFO squandered an early lead, but regained the momentum and eventually broke Haverford’s spirit as the junior leadership’s remarkable catches and good decision making brought the 13-8 victory.

Up against Rice in the quarterfinal round, WUFO proved to themselves and anyone watching that they deserved to be counted among the best teams in the Northeast. Rice pulled ahead 7-2 when Williams’ offensive sloppiness unraveled their tight defense. In an indicative point, WUFO forced a remarkable 5 turnovers with point defense, but then failed to convert each one.

But the team refused to fold: Rob Gonzales ‘03 and Mike Chiorazzi ‘02, along with Tamamato, gave the junior throwers the active receivers they needed for effective zone offense and WUFO went on an amazing 8-2 run. The 9-9 tie ended in spectacular fashion when Redburn caught Jones’ full field throw in the endzone over 3 Rice defenders.

WUFO’s loss in the semifinal game against a warm and rested Cornell team hardly dampened the weekend’s high spirits and sense of accomplishment.

The team’s effort overcame a variety of obstacles and left no doubt that Williams is a team to be reckoned with in the Northeast. Expectations are high for what promises to be great Ultimate in the Sectional tournament, held here at Williams on April 29.