The days were beautiful, and for the first time in years, Buffalo has gotten a break when traveling south. Most of the time we’ve run into cold spells and rain, but the weather in Leland, NC was beautiful.
The first day was tough for my Green Eggs and Ham. We weren’t able to execute properly for the majority of points, and our throws were extremely rusty. In the first game against Elon, who we had beaten twice at Spring Ultimax, we went down early. They were much better prepared for our dynamic duo at defensive handler, and our offense wasn’t running smoothly. Without 5th year player David Ferraro, our younger cutters were forced to step up. The defense rallied, giving us several breaks to put us back in control and take half.
Unfortunately, the consistent effort wasn’t there like it had been in the previous tournament at ECU. We ended up falling to Elon 14-12, and then American in a pretty lack luster game, 12-7. We were certainly not in the right state of mind, nor confident, going into the game against UMass.
UMass had a tall and fast lineup that we couldn’t compete with. Frankly, we were able to to stay in games earlier in the day due to mistakes by the opposing teams. UMass just didn’t make those mistakes, and we were quickly sent packing 15-5. It was a frustrating day for all of us, and we were left wondering how we could rebound from such a poor performance.
Thankfully, we had Sunday. It was time to forget about the previous days events, and find a way to grind out some victories. Grind we did. After being down early in a game against Swarthmore, we rallied to tie it up at 11’s. Unfortunately, we were broken immediately after wards and soft cap horn blew. With the game to 14, our team showed incredible poise. The offense converted, giving the disc back to our strength. The D-Line was heavily relied on all weekend, including an incredible effort by John Bain and Zack Smith to play the majority of points. We never looked back, winning the game 14-13 on Universe, to give us our first win of the weekend.
The Kenyon game was the most memorable of the weekend, but not for necessarily good reasons. They are a very solid team, similar to UMass, with good depth and height. They also keep their spirits up with lots of cheers. Even when we scored, they immediately retorted with a cheer of their own. Our players were able to use that as motivation, and continued to fight throughout the whole game.
The Serfs took the lead early, and didn’t look bad for much of the game. It didn’t stop us from contesting cuts, and fighting for the disc. We battled pretty hard, and the game was starting to become chippy. Emotions ran hot with physical play, with the observer stepping in for a moment, although cooler minds prevailed. While we ended up losing 15-9, we fought hard and didn’t give up.
The last pool play game against Salisbury was a barn burner and another grind. Early on, nothing seemed like it was going right for us. Throws were off, dropped passes, bad defense, led to a huge 12-5 lead for the Buzz. Just when it looked like we were going to be heading to spring break a game early, players started to step up. After chipping away at the lead to get the game to 14-12, Buffalo would take control. Mitch Steiner took over the game on the defensive side, snagging opposing deep passes out of the air. He would go deep on the next possession to bring the game within one.
A Salisbury receiver had an opportunity to bring down a huck that would have been for the win, but it was just out of reach. After tying the game at 14’s, we had a unexpected performance by Mitch Wheeler. Mitch can usually be found launching forehand hucks or hammers as our main offensive handler, but he found a new element to his game. The element of surprise may have been the reason for success, but none the less Wheeler was able to take his man deep twice and bring down Zack Smith’s deep shots for the win, 16-14.
We would go on to win the final game 11-9, to go 3-1 on Sunday. There were large amount of turnovers by both teams, which led to the game finishing after the championship. We were certainly enthused to win the final game, to go into spring break on a high note. I recommend trying out Casey’s BBQ if you’re ever in Wilmington, its worth the wait.
If there’s one thing our team has to work on, it’s mental focus. When we are confident that we can beat a team, there is a tendency to want to save our effort for later games. This is something that came back to bite us on Saturday, and nearly lost 2 games for us on Sunday. Each game is an entirely new challenge, where we have to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we can beat our opponent.
In terms of the running of the tournament and UOA’s rules, things went pretty smoothly. The silent stall count was as good as the reviews from the previous UOA tournament. It’s still ultimate, and the silence doesn’t change much about the game. Some team’s sidelines chose to count out loud when the stall would get high, and it created a pretty cool atmosphere. The defense would actually begin to clamp down, hearing the countdown like a shot clock. I think the opposing team counting led to a defensive advantage, and allowed us to get several stall calls. Recognizing the pick call as a thrower is a little awkward at times, but players got used to it pretty quickly. Players seemed like they were The whistles added a degree of professionalism to the game as well as speeding up play. The only unfortunate thing is dealing with the training of new observers at times, but that will come up occasionally. I’ve played, coached, and observed at UOA tournaments, and have enjoyed every one.