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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Ultimate teams fight wind, foes at Regionals

<isc giveth and the disc taketh away. In a sport determined by the travel of a 175-gram piece of plastic, sometimes all the practice in the world can’t prepare an ultimate frisbee team for what Mother Nature brings to the table. 

Such was the case for the three Carleton squads that competed in last weekend’s North Central D-I Regional Championships held on the blustery plains of Madison, Wis. With 20-30 mph winds persisting through both days of competition, teams had to learn how to battle the elements as well as their foes as they fought for bids to the National Championships to be held in Boulder, Colo. 9th weekend.

Things turned out favorably for Syzygy, which surged to a second-place finish and nationals berth, but CUT and GoP experienced the other side of the windblown coin. CUT managed to hold onto one of four bids but a tough Sunday left the team finishing third, while GoP struggled against the elements and finished in the middle of the pack.


The stakes were high for Syzygy, as the top three finishers in women’s play would advance to Nationals, and everyone else’s season would be over. The top four teams in the tournament – Iowa, Iowa State, Wisconsin-Madison, and Carleton – were all national contenders with a legitimate shot at the title: Wisconsin was two points away from playing in the national title game last year, Iowa was ranked fourth nationally this year, Iowa State beat Iowa two weeks ago at Conferences, and Syzygy had beaten each of those teams at least once this year. 

Saturday was devoted to pool play.  Despite having to fish the disc out of a nearby lake at least once due to wind gusting above 40 mph, Syzygy took care of business in its first two games, beating Nebraska and Wisconsin (in a game in which neither team could score upwind), before losing to Iowa. Quarterfinals against Minnesota featured several exciting upwind breaks, a disc lost in the lake, and a 15-5 victory for the good guys.

Sunday started with semifinals, pitting Syzygy against Iowa State.  The winner of this game would automatically qualify for Nationals, while the loser would have to play two must-win games in order to qualify.  Syzygy came out on fire, scoring the first six points on the way to a dominating 15-3 win. In the finals, Iowa beat Syzygy again, this time 11-8, in a frustrating game. Syzygy slept well that night, though, dreaming of Nationals in Boulder 9th Weekend.

Laurel Schmidt, member of Syzygy


It was a disappointing Regional Championship for the two-time defending champions CUT, as the one seed dropped to a third place finish behind Wisconsin and Iowa. Luckily for CUT, the North Central Region had four bids to Nationals, so the season did not end this weekend. The weekend was truly a tale of two days. On Saturday, CUT took care of business, winning its pool by defeating both Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin-Milwaukee with scores of 17-3. This placed CUT in the semifinals against Iowa IHUC. The conditions were extremely windy, but CUT came out focused and was able to run off enough upwind breaks to take Iowa, 15-8. With the semifinal victory, CUT clinched one of the four births to Nationals.

Sunday was less successful. In the finals against the Wisconsin Hodags, CUT came out flat and got stuck in a big hole. Wisconsin took the first half 8-2, one of CUT’s worst halves in recent memory. Despite the setback, CUT fought back, but time ran out on them and they ended up loosing 14-11. This set up another match against Iowa to determine second and third place for seeding purposes. Again the conditions were incredibly windy, and CUT did not have the answers to Iowa’s zone or intensity. Iowa would end up taking the game by a score of 14-6.

This was CUT’s worst finish at Regionals in at least a decade and the two losses from the weekend are just one short of CUT’s total number of losses for the entire season coming into the weekend. The loss will also create some interesting seeding for Nationals as CUT must now be seeded behind Iowa, meaning CUT will likely be seeded somewhere in the 8-14 range, instead of the top-five seed they almost surely would have secured had they finished first or second in the Region. Luckily, CUT lives to fight another day, and hopes to take the lessons learned from this weekend into Nationals.

Alex Kinsey, member of CUT


The windswept fields of Madison’s Stoner Prairie Elementary saw the Gods of Plastic’s season come to a difficult end as GoP was unable to overcome wind-induced mistakes, going 2-4 on the weekend. Saturday pool play started promisingly, with the Gods sweeping past Nebraska-Omaha, 15-6, but the momentum stopped in the ensuing game with Iowa State. The glare off of an ISUC handler’s sunglasses must have blinded GoP out of focus, as the Gods struggled to convert in the red zone and fell, 12-7. Licking its wounds, GoP played a hard, fun game against eventual regional champion Wisconsin. Out of compassion for GoP alum and current Hodag Eric Alexander, the Gods chose not to derail Wisconsin’s unblemished weekend as the Hodags pulled away, 14-9. GoP salvaged the day with a win over beloved rival St. Olaf, overcoming a late Ole upwind break that nearly gave the team an excuse to drown its sorrows at Mifflin that evening.

Instead, America’s A-Team remained in contention for the final bid to nationals, at least for one more evening. Sunday was May Day, but there would be no victory flowers for GoP, the day proving to be a different kind of mayday as the team’s flight through 2011 came crashing to a halt. Squaring off with UW-Eau Claire on another blustery morning, the teams traded shots early until a UWEC upwind break before halftime proved the difference. Unable to conquer the prairie winds against aptly named Eauzone’s tight defense, GoP watched its season slip painfully away to the tune of a 12-9 defeat.

In true GoP fashion, however, the team would not let the loss entirely dampen its spirits. After a light-hearted consolation contest with UW-Milwaukee, GoP turned its efforts to its other primary purpose: heckling opponents of CUT. With Pete Rogers ’13 leading the way, the Gods provided a boisterous accompaniment to the tournament’s championship game, proving that while Mother Nature may be able to derail on-field performance, when it comes to unity and heart, Carleton College really is the best.

Matt Hart, member of GoP

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