With contributions by Ben Siegel
Every year, the Paideia Cup is one of the most competitive and intense ultimate tournaments in the country, and this year it did not disappoint. Two weekends ago, the 8th Annual Paideia Cup took place at Python Park in Atlanta, Georgia. The tournament was full of surprises, most notably the 7th seed De Smet coming within one point of beating powerhouse Amherst to reach the final. The number 2 seed Paideia High School also had a shocking result, finishing in last place.
The tournament began Saturday, April 13, bright and early. The first day of the tournament was pool play. Pool A consisted of Amherst (MA), Neuqua Valley (IL), Hopkins (MN), and Vero Beach (FL). Pool B was made up of Paideia, Holy Family Catholic (OH), Columbia (NJ), and De Smet (MO). Amherst breezed through pool play, as did Holy Family Catholic. There were not very many upsets on Day 1, except for De Smet. The first surprise of the tournament came in the second round of games when 2 seed Paideia lost 12-11 to 7 seed De Smet, out of St. Louis, Missouri. With that loss, Paideia needed to beat Holy Family Catholic to reach the semifinals. But Holy Family beat Paideia soundly, 15-9. Neuqua Valley beat Hopkins and Vero Beach to advance to the semifinals, where they would be joined by Amherst, Holy Family Catholic, and De Smet.
De Smet almost continued their Cinderella run, losing to Amherst by 1 in the semifinals. The game was within one or two points most of the time, but as Amherst usually does, they capitalized on De Smet’s late turnovers. The teams had conflicting styles of play, as De Smet used their athleticism to throw homerun shots, and Amherst methodically drove down the field, rarely making any mistakes. Amherst took an 11-9 lead late in the game, and never looked back, locking up a spot in the final.
The other semifinal, Neuqua Valley vs. Holy Family Catholic, was not as close, as Holy family won 15-5. Holy Family jumped out to an early lead, and Neuqua Valley made too many mistakes to make it close. The game was much closer than the final score says. Neuqua Valley got scoring chances, but just couldn’t capitalize while Holy Family did.
The championship game started out close, as Amherst and Holy Family were deadlocked at 4. Amherst took a 6-5 lead, and then started to execute their style of play. Like usual, Amherst played a very smart and safe game, and capitalized on Holy family’s turnovers. A win over Amherst requires nearly mistake-free play, and Holy Family seemed unable to pull that off. Amherst never lost the lead after going up 6-5, en route to 15-9 championship victory.
In the loser’s bracket, Hopkins breezed by Columbia, 15-6, to earn a spot in the 5th/6th place game. In the other loser’s bracket semifinal, Vero Beach squeezed out a win against Paideia. Vero Beach led 12-7, but Paideia rallied to tie it up at 12, and Vero Beach made a diving catch in sudden death to hold on for the victory. In the 5th/6th place game, Vero Beach, after going 0-3 on Saturday, won their second in a row beating last year’s Paideia Cup champion Hopkins. They won by a score of 15-13. In the 7th/8th place game, Paideia faced Columbia. In pool play, Paideia beat Columbia handily, 12-4. But Columbia surprised the host team, winning 12-10 to place 7th.
In the girls’ bracket of the Paideia Cup, Saturday was a round robin. The teams participating were Paideia, Holy Family Catholic, Saga, Columbia, and ATL Junior Mixtape, in order of seeding, respectively. Saga, a club team from North Carolina, Columbia, and Holy Family Catholic all went 3-1 on the first day. Paideia, winner of the last three girl’s Paideia Cups, went 1-3. ATL Junior Mixtape went 0-4.
On Sunday, Paideia beat ATL Junior Mixtape 10-2 to reach the semifinals. In the first semifinal, Saga narrowly beat Holy Family Catholic, 9-8. In the other semifinal, Paideia got revenge against Columbia, who they lost to 11-6 the day before. In the championship game filled with intermittent rain, Saga got the best of a tired Paideia team, winning 13-5.
Paideia boys and Paideia girls were both winners of the 2013 Spirit Award, newly named for Paideia parents Dave and Patti Clauson. The Clauson’s were part of the founding fathers for the Paideia Cup and this was their last year with a son or daughter playing in the tournament. They have been instrumental in the cup’s history and have set the groundwork for a unique national tournament that will be around many years to come.
Jonathan Steinberg is a 10th grader at The Paideia School in Atlanta. He plays varsity basketball and varsity baseball, and is the copy editor for the school newspaper.
Ben Siegel is a 10th grader at The Paideia School in Atlanta. He plays varsity baseball, and is the sports editor for the school newspaper.