Frisbee concludes record season

by Stephen Preefer | 5/22/08 1:16am

Despite ending the tournament with a losing record, the team's performance was a milestone for Dartmouth's frisbee program, which had never won a collegiate championship match until last weekend.

Co-captain Watson Sallay '08 attributed Dartmouth's performance at the tournament to a strong overall team effort.

"The tournament went incredibly well," Sallay said. "The team has only been to Nationals once before, which was in 2003, and we didn't win a game. We played really well as a team and won one of our games in the pool division to qualify for pre-quarters. Everyone was really happy with our performance."

The team, referred to by its members as "The Pain Train," began the tournament in pool play, competing with the University of Colorado, Carleton College and the University of California, Santa Cruz for a spot in the championship bracket. Dartmouth was the bottom seed in its pool and did not expect to qualify for championship play before a monumental upset over UCSC.

After losing to Carleton, 15-5, and Colorado, 15-7, Dartmouth fell behind UCSC early in the contest as the UCSC zone defense pressured Dartmouth's offense to create early turnovers. The teams traded points until Dartmouth fell behind, 6-4. Dartmouth then made another costly turnover, putting UCSC in a position to close out the first half four points ahead.

Dartmouth closed UCSC's lead to one point, but the Banana Slugs eventually closed out the half ahead of Dartmouth, 8-6.

Following the halftime break, a Dartmouth interception created an early opportunity that brought Dartmouth back within one to open the second half. On UCSC's next drive, Dartmouth was in prime position to intercept an pass into the end zone, but barely missed, allowing UCSC to regain its two point advantage.

The teams traded scores until Dartmouth's top players stepped up to tie the score. Critical plays from Salley, co-captain Sam Haynor '08, Misha Sidorsky '10, Graham Baecher '10 and Dermott McHugh '09 brought the score to 13-13.

Chase Raines '11 then intercepted UCSC's responding drive, giving Dartmouth the lead with only one point necessary to win the game. UCSC responded, however, sending the game into overtime.

In UPA frisbee, teams must win by two. If no team can earn a tw-point lead, however, the first team to score 17 points wins.

In overtime play, Owen Roberts '09 picked up the disc on the sideline and connected with Robin Meyers '10 to win the game for Dartmouth, putting the team in the record books as the first team to win a game at nationals for Dartmouth.

Sallay said he was proud of the team and overjoyed about the victory.

"It was really a great, team effort," Sallay said. "Everyone was doing their jobs and everyone played to their potential. The team has relied on everyone to play well for the entire season and that was reflected in the game."

The win qualified the team for the tournament's pre-quarter finals in which they faced a highly touted team from the University of Arizona.

Dartmouth maintained control throughout the contest against Arizona and led until the final minutes of the match. Dartmouth took the first half, 8-5, and went up early in the second half, 10-7.

Arizona appeared fatigued in the first half and relied heavily on its deep game to carry them through the match. Arizona's errors continued in the second half, allowing Dartmouth to gain a 13-10 lead with hopes of a huge upset.

Arizona shifted the momentum, however, and began a comeback with two quick scores followed by a turnover that tied the game at 13-13. The teams then traded scores, with Dartmouth setting the pace and reaching game point first.

Dartmouth then turned over the disc at midfield and Arizona unleashed a full-field pass into the end zone to fight off the upset.

Dartmouth went 1-1 in its remaining games, losing 15-9 to Texas and defeating Delaware 11-7 in an abbreviated place game.

Dartmouth finished the tournament tied for 13th overall, concluding the program's best season of all-time.

"The season has been extremely successful," Sallay said. "It has definitely been the most successful for Dartmouth ultimate, and we've accomplished more than any other Dartmouth team ever, so we have a lot to look forward to."