WUFO grabs spot at Nationals

Last weekend, men’s Williams Ultimate Frisbee Organization (WUFO) took second place at New England Regionals, earning a bid to College Nationals in Columbus, Ohio three weeks from now. The Regionals tournament format was a direct championship bracket of 16 teams, with a loser’s bracket for teams who lost out of the championship bracket. The top two teams earn bids to Nationals while everyone else’s season ends. Two losses end the season, and a loss early makes the road to second place significantly more difficult. WUFO entered the tournament as the third seed, behind Middlebury and Tufts.

The men took care of business in the first two rounds with 15-9 wins over Boston College and Brown. Next up was a heavily anticipated semifinal match up with Tufts. The team came out firing, building a 13-10 lead in a game to 15. However, the Ephs couldn’t hold on against an unconventional half zone and half man defense and lost 14-16.

As a result, Sunday was win or go home, with the team three wins away from the backdoor bid. The first game of the day was a first round rematch against BC, who broke seed significantly to reach this point. However, the game went similarly to the previous meeting, with WUFO easily winning 15-10. Next up was UMass, who had just defeated Harvard. UMass, a sectional rival, had a 0-2 record against WUFO this season and didn’t have the confidence necessary coming into the game to give Williams any trouble. WUFO was able to take the game comfortably 15-11, with Andre Martinez ’09 throwing the game winner to Kieran Brennan ’10.

Middlebury fell to Tufts in the finals of the direct bracket; as a result, Williams would face Middlebury for the fifth time this season in the game that determined who would go to Nationals. In spite of a 0-4 record against Middlebury this season, the men refused to be intimidated.

The game was a dogfight from the start, with no team taking more than a two point lead throughout the game. Middlebury was playing tight man defense but hucks from Caleb Balderston ’10 and Carl Brasz ’09 to Brian Bistalfo ’09 kept WUFO on top. WUFO went into the half up 8-7, but soon ended up down 10-12. An increase in defensive intensity combined with fatigue then led to significantly more turnovers than in the first half. WUFO was able to get back a break, tying the score at 13-13 when Matt Wellenbach ’09 jumped over Middlebury’s Peter Prial to score. Then at 14-14, universe point, Will Pettengill ’10 got a defensive stop in the end zone to save the game. WUFO then worked the disc down the field until Jamie Quella ’10 hit Brennan for the game winner. WUFO earned its first win over Middlebury when it counted, and now Williams’ next stop is in Columbus, Ohio.