WUFO earns bid to regionals at sectionals

The Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization (WUFO) hosted the 2002 Western New England Sectional Tournament on the lower Cole Fields this past weekend. Teams were vying for the five available spots at next week’s regional tournament, to be held in Hanover, NH.

Also at stake was seeding for next week’s regional tournament. Coming to town were teams from all over Western Mass. and Vermont.

WUFO entered the weekend as the second seed behind UMass-Amherst and just ahead of bitter rivals Amherst and Middlebury.

The weekend started with WUFO A, led by Craig “Mumbles” Tamamoto ’02 and Ian “Murdock” Warrington ’03, taking on one of its own B-teams, which was captained by Dave Thal ’03 and Pete Applegate ’03.

The growing popularity of ultimate on the national scene continues to leave its imprint on Williams, with interest growing so much each year that WUFO now fields two evenly split B-teams simply to get everyone enough playing time.

WUFO B played with spirit and intensity, but it was not enough to overcome the experience and talent of WUFO A.

By virtue of their victory in that game, WUFO earned a spot to regionals and advanced to face the team from Amherst in the semi-finals of the tournament.

WUFO was slow out of the gate, and though it played hard, the team proved the victim of its own poor decision-making and an upset-minded Amherst side.

Late in the game, WUFO found itself down 12-7 in a game to 13, but the team refused to roll over. With the support of a large and raucous cheering section, WUFO slowly chipped away at the Amherst lead, eventually tying the game at 12 apiece.

In the deciding point, WUFO again came up with a huge defensive stand and went on to cap the miraculous comeback of six straight points with a beautiful pass from Chris “Face” Durlacher ’03 to Nick “Sparkles” Borja ’04.

In the finals of the tournament, WUFO matched up against the team from UMass. Coming into the tournament, UMass was the fifth-ranked team in the country and sported a daunting 35-3 record.

WUFO’s inconsistent results had garnered them a meager 16-19 record and a number 58 ranking. On paper, this game seemed to be a mismatch. Players from both WUFO and UMass knew better, though.

Riding the momentum of the comeback victory over Amherst, WUFO came out of the gate on fire, building an early 6-3 lead highlighted by a leaping snag by Borja off an upside-down “hammer” throw.

UMass put together a mini-run, but at halftime, WUFO maintained a slim advantage of 8-7. UMass took the first two points of the second half to take their first lead of the game at 9-8, but the two teams continued to duke it out.

UMass threw a zone defense to try to disrupt WUFO’s offensive flow, but the team responded well, with great hammer throws by Joe “Freshman” Masters ’02 over the UMass three-man cup to wide-open receivers Nick Nelson ’03 and Eric “Kitten” Schoenfeld ’03.

WUFO’s intense, tireless team defense shined against UMass’s extremely disciplined offense, and frustrated UMass’s handlers by forcing them to swing the disc back and forth for more than five minutes without being able to find an open receiver.

Late in the game, WUFO’s hard work continued to pay off, and the team found itself up 14-13 in a game to 15. On multiple occasions, hard defense by Pete “Rickets” Webb ’02 forced UMass to turn over the disc, giving WUFO a chance to close out the upset, but each attempt came up just a little short.

UMass stuck with its consistent, patient offense to eventually win 17-15 in overtime, and WUFO A had to settle for being runners-up at the Western New England sectionals.

Despite the narrow loss, WUFO is tremendously excited about next weekend and hopes to peak at the regional tournament. Timing is beginning to come together, the team is playing as a more cohesive unit and WUFO used this past weekend to send a powerful message to the entire region.

It also marked the last home tournament for A-teamers Tamamoto, Masters, Webb, Mike “Dirty Chio” Chiorazzi ’02, Josh “Doc Oc” Frankel ’02 and super-senior Jon “Chester” Alexander ’02. It was great for the guys to go out on a high note.

In the meantime, WUFO’s B-teams were hard at work themselves. In spite of their split squad and the even distribution of talent, both teams played very well and barely missed out on claiming a spot to regionals.

After losing to the A-team in the first game of the day, WUFO B proceeded to defeat the A-team from Hampshire but went down to UVM’s A-team in a hotly contested 15-9 loss.

WUFO B’, led by captains Elliot “Tuna” Morrison ’04 and Jeff “Chef” Nelson ’04, fought through the B-bracket of the tournament, but also fell just short of earning a bid to regionals.

The success and popularity of the B-teams (including the exciting play of some up-and-coming rookies!) is a healthy sign for the future of WUFO.