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CUT & SYZYGY qualify for nationals, GOP battles to 5th place

<ast weekend, Carleton hosted the UPA Central Regional Championships, in which four of Carleton’s Ultimate teams were participating. CUT and Syzygy came into the weekend once again with expectations to make nationals. However, this year presented an exciting opportunity as GOP was also in a good position to make a run at the championship event in Madison, Wisconsin. Both the men and women’s divisions had bracket play for the whole weekend with 4 bids to nationals for the men and 2 for the women.

Anchored by the play-making abilities of captains Grant Lindsley and Sam Kanner, CUT began the weekend with an easy win over 16th-seeded Grinnell. In the next game, CUT next cruised to a 15-7 quarterfinal win over Iowa State behind steady defense and consistent offense. The semi-final match-up quickly turned into a blowout as CUT’s defense was sparked by leaping catches from Peter “P. Scheue” Scheuermann and the flying ability of Adrian Chow as he dove over an Iowa player to get a block. CUT was able to coast in the second half, finishing Iowa 15-6.

GOP started its weekend knowing that in order to make a run, they would have to beat top teams from state schools with much larger student populations. First on the list was Winona State, who possessed a small but very talented roster. GOP came out slow and very quickly found themselves in a 6-2 deficit. However, some very strong D-line play allowed the Carleton team to come back and take the game 14-12 earning a spot in the quarterfinals against Minnesota.

In their third matchup of the season, Minnesota took the lead early, and even after a late run by GOP, Minnesota recovered and found their stride taking a 12-8 lead at which point GOP pulled their stars and Minnesota coasted to a 15-8 win. The loss put GOP in the 2/3 bracket, where they beat Minnesota Duluth 15-11, and Wisconsin Whitewater 15-4. This win concluded their Saturday play and set them up for a game against the University of Iowa Sunday morning.

Eclipses first game was against Syzygy, and in a spirited Carleton versus Carleton matchup, the Syzygites took the game 15-3. Next Eclipse faced off against Grinnell, despite tough defense from Eclipse, Grinnell seemed to come down with everything taking a 8-3 halftime lead. However, after half, the Carleton girls found an inner fire and went on a 8-3 run of their own to tie the game at 11. With the soft cap sounding, it became a game to 13. However the late run had taken to much out of Eclipse as they ended up falling 11-13. Next they faced Wisconsin-Milwaukee and in a frustrating game, Eclipse lost 14-8 to send them to the 15th place game.

The loss to Milwaukee had put Eclipses record at 13-13, with only one game left in the season, they had a chance to post a winning record for the first time in their history. Eclipse came out with fire and poise, took the lead and never looked back, winning 13-8.

Syzygy rolled to an impressive finish at Regionals behind the play of stellar seniors Emma Dobbins and Caitlin McKimmy. After a very spirited first-round game with Eclipse, and a near-shutout of crosstown rivals St. Olaf, Syzygy cruised until a tough semifinal against Wisconsin-Eau Claire. A convincing 12-10 win sent Carleton into the finals, facing the talented Wisconsin Belladonna. Amid the thrill of playing in front of an enthusiastic crowd (and ESPN-worthy color commentary by Adam Fagin), Syzygy met a stacked Wisconsin team. Highlights abounded, with Merritt Swain breaking Belladonna defender’s ankles, Elise Rasmussen dropping dimes, and Linnea Carlson dominating a seemingly impossible match-up against reigning college MVP Georgia Bosscher. Despite fiery play by Syzygy, Wisconsin finally pulled away at the end of the second half sending Carleton into the game to go. With only two bids to Nationals, Syzygy knew its work was far from done. They responded with a thrilling 12-10 win over Wisconsin-Eau Claire, cementing Syzygy’s spot at College Nationals.

CUT’s only game on Sunday was the finals, which pitted them against Minnesota Grey Duck, who had pulled off a narrow victory over perennial threat Wisconsin. Minnesota, ranked #3 in the nation, was gifted with both height and an irrepressible urge to throw deep passes, resulting in a very exciting but turnover-prone offense. Predictably, Grey Duck came out and immediately opened up the game with endzone-to-endzone hucks. Despite a few early bumps, CUT’s offense reached its unstoppable potential, with Robert Carleton getting open at will and Julian Childs-Walker cutting relentlessly and mercilessly. Solid defense gave CUT an early edge, but Duck’s reliance on deep throws brought them back in the game. After taking half, Grey Duck came back to within one point, but dual layout grabs by Nick Stuart and Dan Curme put CUT ahead for good. CUT finished the game with a 15-10 win at Laird Stadium, winning the difficult Central Region and earning a likely #2 or #3 seed at Nationals.

Despite slow starts on Saturday GOP was determined to come out hot on Sunday. A win in the first game against Iowa would give them two straight tries to make nationals. Led by GOP alumnus Abe Graber, Iowa’s offense relied on breakside throws and quick hucks. After trading back and forth to a 3-2 lead, GOP’s D-line went on fire, juniors Martin Granick and Andrew Hooker shut down the top downfield threats as Danny Hoppe and Nate King made every dump a challenge. Taking 3 straight breaks, GOP had taken a 6-2 lead. Now all that was needed was for the offensive line to hold, and hold they did. Showing truly chilly offense and some great athletic play, GOP maintained its lead. Senior Kevin Draper connected on a number of hucks to freshman Rhys Lindmark and GOP took the game 15-11, placing them in the game to go to nationals against the Wisconsin Hodags.

On paper it looked like a classic mismatch, a three time national champion from a school of over 40,000 people versus some goofy guys in hawaian shirts at a school with less than 2,000. However, both GOP and the home crowd believed that anything was possible. Facing hard odds, GOP decided ‘why not’ and broke the Hodag O-line on the first point of the game. Before long GOP had taken a 4-2 lead and seemed in control. However, the Hodags proved where their 3 national championships came from as they broke back to take half 8-7 and with stifling defense and chilly offense, they won 15-10.

With the loss, GOP was put in a do or die rematch against Iowa. A crowd of hundreds had descended on the field behind the rec center, expecting a game of epic proportions, and they were not disappointed. Both offensive lines were clicking on all levels for most of the first half. Rhys “Airstrike” Lindmark continued to dominate and senior captain Andy Cochrane, despite having played 90% of all points all weekend, seemed not to tire. However, an unfortunate drop led to an Iowa break as Iowa took half 8-7. With another break to start the second half, GOP was in a 7-9 hole and needed to get defensive points quick. However, despite having chances, the D-line couldn’t manage to find the endzone.

Even with the deficit, the energy coming from the fans, and support coming from seemingly every other team still in attendance, made it feel like an inevitability that GOP would make the comeback. However, the Iowa offense continued to hold. GOP brought out its big guns as senior captain Eric Alexander, senior James Sheridan and freshman Rhys Lindmark began to play both ways. Despite expelling every last breath of emotion and courage, GOP could not take the lead as an Iowa player put up a breakside huck that appeared to be caught by six different people, but it was ruled that Iowa had scored the point and won the game 15-13. The Gods of Plastic had come so close but still fell short of the historic win. Still, the fans gave them a loving tribute and the players also gave thanks to their 8th man.

The results of the weekend mean that CUT and Syzygy will head to nationals 9th weekend and GOP will go to D-III nationals 8th weekend. CUT will likely be no lower than the #3 seed in the tournament and GOP is nearly guaranteed the #1 seed. This gives the men’s teams a great shot at another double nationals repeat, as both teams will be the defending champions at their respective tournaments. If you are looking for a nice getaway 8th or 9th weekend, Appleton and Madison Wisconsin are said to be very nice this time of year, plus you get the chance to support your Carleton teams. However, if you can’t make it, results for both men’s ­­­teams can be followed live on their twitters, and

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