RPI Ultimate heads to national tourney

SENIOR DAN DONOVAN INTERCEPTS the disc during RPI’s match against Siena College on Saturday in the Metro East Regional Championships.

The RPI men’s Ultimate team competed at the windy Metro East Regional Championship this past weekend. RPI, along with 11 other teams, met at the Saratoga Springs Polo Association grounds to compete for one of two spots at the Division-III College Championships later this month in Appleton, Wisc. For many teams, the tournament represented the most important weekend of their season, with only the top two finishers advancing.

Saturday began with pool play, where the winners of each pool would automatically earn a spot in the championship game. RPI started the tournament as the second seed in pool B, with two of its toughest games of the weekend first thing on Saturday. During the first round, Rensselaer faced Marist College, a team eager to challenge RPI after losing to the team at the Conference Championships. Despite its enthusiasm, RPI’s superiority in the windy conditions allowed it to win handily, finishing the game 13-9.

In the second round, the pool’s third seed Colgate University would give one of the closest and most intense games of the weekend. Both teams traded points for most of the game, bringing the highly physical match to a 12-12 tie with no time left and a double-game-point scenario. RPI senior Dan Donovan was able to connect with sophomore Russell Katz on a key deep pass to just outside of the end zone, and after taking a timeout the offensive line put away the game winning score, 13-12 RPI.

Round three of pool play gave RPI a chance to rest some of its starters in a game against Siena College, the pool’s sixth and lowest seed. While the RPI offense allowed a small number of turnovers and scores by the Siena defense, the defensive line was able to outplay its opponent significantly. RPI walked away with a relaxed 13-7 victory. The team was able to ride its momentum through the fourth round of pool play against the pool’s top seed, the Stevens Institute of Technology. While most of the game was closely contested, RPI was able to pull away during the second half and upset Stevens, 13-10. Having already won its pool, much of RPI’s starting lines rested during Sunday morning’s final round of pool play against SUNY Oneonta. While the team allowed more points than necessary and was down at half, RPI came back easily in the second half and finished the game 13-11, sweeping pool B and earning a spot in the championship match.

In the heavily contested pool A, a number of teams had been in the running all weekend to earn a spot in the finals. After nearly sweeping its pool, top seeded SUNY Fredonia was upset by SUNY Cortland Sunday morning, and was not able to put away enough points to win the pool outright. Surprising most of the tournament, a three-way tie for first in pool A was resolved based on point differential. The overall fourth seed—Connecticut College— earned a spot in the finals, setting the stage for a rematch of last year’s championship match.

After last season’s double-game-point loss to Connecticut College in the game to go to the national championships, RPI entered the finals looking to redeem itself. After starting on defense, RPI was able to break Connecticut’s offense during the first point after a quick turn, with senior captain John Hosmer connecting with sophomore Matt Lustbader in the end zone. After this key play to start the match, RPI began gathering significant momentum. The defensive line would continue to dominate, leading 8-3 at half. RPI continued to press its advantage, and with the help of some big defensive plays from graduate student Chris Persichilli and senior Jay Walker, allowed only one point in the second half. RPI would go undefeated on the weekend, winning the championships in an exciting 13-4 blowout against Connecticut College. Connecticut would go on to lose the second place game against Stevens, who earned the second and final bid to the championships.

RPI Ultimate will attend the USA Ultimate Division-III College Championships on May 19 and 20 in Appleton, Wisc. Along with the Stevens Institute of Technology, it will represent the Metro East region as it competes in a field of 16 teams to become the D-III college champions.

Interested in learning more about competitive Ultimate at RPI? Visit http://frisbee.union.rpi.edu/ to learn about the club teams available at Rensselaer.