With contributions by Gabe Price
To start off day one, CHS and Needham, respectively the two and three seeds of their pool, battled it out in what was expected to be a very close matchup. Needham, who had gone into their last tournament with very little practice, came out with extreme intensity in the first half. They frustrated CHS early on with quick handler movement and patience against both man and zone defense, taking half at 8-3. CHS, though missing some of their starters such as Saul Graves and Jon Fearon for academic reasons, eventually picked up their level of play coming into the second half. However, Needham maintained their intensity through the rest of the game and ended up defeating CHS 15-7.
Coming off this victory, Needham went began the next round game against Seattle Fryz with confidence. However, Fryz proved to be incredibly strong with their swift handler movement and unmatched athleticism. Needham was still able to put on considerable pressure on defense, but mostly could not convert on their offensive opportunities. Fryz took half at 8-2, and eventually beat Needham handily with a score of 12-2.
Round three consisted of one of the most anticipated games of the tournament. Amherst Varsity would have a rematch with Paideia after they defeated Amherst on universe point a few weeks earlier at the 7th annual Paideia Cup. Despite their past loss, Amherst seemed to completely outmatch Paideia in the first half with their patient but intense play. Paideia started the game playing antsy and throwing a few unforced turnovers on which Amherst quickly capitalized. Amherst took half 8-2. Eventually, Paideia started working their deep game in the second half making some spectacular throws and catches. However, Amherst’s early lead would allow them to walk the game out with a score of 15-6.
While the Amherst vs. Paideia game transpired, Sharon High School gave Needham a thorough scare in a surprise performance. Needham was expected to easily take the game against the relatively new and inexperienced Sharon program. However, Sharon had a great showing and took the game to universe point before falling to Needham 16-15.
The fourth round played out with the 1 seeds in the tournament taking easy victories.
Day one started with the last pool play game. Sharon, who had played Needham even till universe point, again took another strong team, CHS, to universe. Despite their 1-3 record in their pool, Sharon had a very impressive tournament leading into quarterfinals where they would face the pool-sweeping Amherst. Sharon was not the only surprise team of pool play. Longmeadow proved that they were a true contender putting up scores of 15-10 and 15-11 on Amherst and Paideia respectively. Although neither of these teams broke seed they still played some fantastic ultimate and scared many teams who thought they were going to play easy games.
Paideia vs. CHS was easily the most exciting quarterfinals game of the bracket. Given that at the Paideia Cup Paideia easily defeated CHS 15-4 in pool play, the powerhouse from Atlanta was the unanimous favorite going into this game. However, CHS kept the score within 1 for almost the entire game. Both teams were not without their mistakes, but CHS’s seemingly unstoppable deep game pitted against Paideia’s newly found patience made for a disparate and exciting game. Paideia pulled ahead in the final points with their textbook dump-swing and frustratingly meticulous offense. The final score was 12-9.
Paideia rolled in their semifinal game versus the Seattle FRYZ extremely prepared. Despite the fact that Seattle had been undefeated up to that point, Paideia, with the addition of captain Nils Clauson, seemed unfazed by Seattle’s flashy style of play. The two teams traded points early on. Seattle started off a little more tentative than usual against the tough Paideia defense. Both teams began taking quick deep strikes late in the first half, and frequently displayed stunning acts of athleticism. After a grueling series of traded points, Seattle eventually broke to take half 8-6. Intensity came from both sidelines in the second half. Fryz kept up their blistering pace on offense, while Paideia was once again very patient and was content with dump-swinging on the goal line. Soft-cap came on at 10-9 Paideia, and Fryz scored to bring it to what would soon be universe point. Seattle pulled to Paideia and after a powerful defensive bid, the disc was put up to Fryz captain, Khalif El-Salaam, who exploded into the air to pulled down the disc for the win. With a score of 11-10 Seattle, this game was easily one of the most exciting matches of the tournament.
After two long days of battle between some of the best open teams in the nation, the most anticipated game of the tournament had finally come. Amherst, the consistently dominant eastern powerhouse, would take on Seattle Fryz, the all-star team from the west. Going into this game, both teams were undefeated in the tournament. Upon asking Tiina Booth how she felt about the upcoming game, she replied with her philosophy, “any team that gives us a chance to score is a team we can compete against.” Amherst, though coming off of a few losses at the Paideia Cup a few weeks earlier, was very well prepared coming into this tournament. They consistently were playing patient and smart ultimate all weekend, and had several chances to play some of their less experienced players. On the other end of the field, Seattle was very hyped up going into the final game. They had just beat Paideia in a nail-biting game on universe point, and were ready for whatever challenges lied ahead.
As the game began, Seattle came out incredibly strong as always. Their fast pace handler oriented ho-stack offense caught Amherst’s defensive line off guard. On offense, Amherst lost some patience early on that they could not afford to spare. This caused a few turnovers that Fryz would ultimately capitalize on. After a fairly quick half, Seattle was up three breaks. Amherst would start to find their rhythm in the second half completing a few deep strikes and keeping a little more composure on offense. However, Seattle’s lead was too much to come back from, and came eventually came to a conclusion with a score of 15-7 making Seattle Fryz this year’s Amherst Invitational champions.
The Open A division yielded some very exciting and close games to the finish. The Girls division went according to seed and while the games were contested toughly, the scores did not reflect it. The Amherst Invitational as always was a great success due in no small part to the army of volunteers who helped out at this tournament and kept the fields spotless and the teams themselves who exhibited spirited and elite levels of play. This upcoming weekend, many of the teams who played at the Amherst Invitational will be headed to Northeasterns, looking to challenge Amherst for regional supremacy. Longmeadow and Sharon both revealed themselves to be serious contenders and should be teams to look for in the future.