Ultimate earns bid to regional championship

JUNIOR ANDREW JANUCIK LEAPS in the air to snag the disc during RPI’s match against Connecticut College on Sunday. Rensselaer’s victory in that match earned it a bid to the Metro East Division-III Regionals later this month.

This past weekend, RPI men’s Ultimate competed in the Hudson Valley Division-III Conference Championships in Middletown, Conn. Organized with help from Wesleyan University, the tournament featured 11 teams from the Hudson Valley conference competing for bids to the D-III regionals later this month. RPI attended the event with a nearly full-strength roster and high hopes for the tournament.

Saturday’s games featured pool play, with the teams separated into two pools. The day began with the news that Skidmore College had dropped from the tournament, reducing the playing field to 10 teams. All teams would now play Saturday’s games in their respective pool of five teams. RPI began the tournament as the second seed in pool B and the third seed overall. Its first game of the weekend pitted RPI against its pool’s lowest seeded team, the United State Military Academy at West Point. While athletic, Army proved to be an easy matchup for RPI, who were able to use its depth and experience to claim a nearly effortless 13-6 win in the first round.

During the second round of pool play, RPI faced off against the pool’s fourth seed, Marist College. Despite its low seeding, Marist was still able to give RPI one of its best games of the day in a matchup that echoed its game last year at the regional championships. Once again, RPI was able to defeat Marist, this time with a final score of 13-9. The third round saw RPI play against what was expected to be the toughest game of the day—the pool’s top seed, Vassar College. Thanks to strong consistency from the offensive line and a handful of key conversions by the defense, RPI was able to win the game 13-9. In the final matchup of the day, a Siena College team exhausted from a narrow win over Army was defeated easily, 13-4, RPI. Combined with its win due to forfeit by Skidmore, RPI closed out Saturday with a 5-0 record, earning it a spot in the championship game.

After also going undefeated on Saturday, Wesleyan would face RPI in the championship game on Sunday. The match began poorly for RPI, with the offensive line throwing several turnovers that led to conversions by Wesleyan. The team’s frustration increased as the game continued, with Wesleyan playing a very rough and un-spirited game marked by a high number of fouls and arguments. After several more turnovers RPI cut its losses and allowed its starting lines to rest for the second place game in the next round. RPI’s secondary lines would close out the match, losing 13-4.

The final matchup for second place was made much more important due to the fact that Wesleyan had opted to attend the Division-I regionals rather than Division-III, an option given to the top-three finishing teams of the Division-III conference tournament by USA Ultimate. Having already committed to Division-III, RPI was competing to become the top seeded team from the Hudson Valley conference D-III regionals. This spot would be decided by a game against Connecticut College, who had narrowly defeated Rensselaer in 2011, ending RPI’s season. This time, RPI’s defensive line was able to pull away during the final minutes of the game, resulting in a 14-10 win. The team finished the tournament in second place with a 6-1 record, earning it one of the top spots at the Metro East D-III Regional Championships later this month.