(note: I borrowed all the pictures of Eclipse from fleichter's flickr album (Eclipser Claire Leichter's dad)- they're awesome but I can't claim them as my own!)
I do not know how to start this post. I wish there was some sort of a "convey emotion" button I could push that would avoid a need to find words to express the excitement that is radiating across campus. Yesterday, Eclipse (one of the three women's Ultimate Frisbee teams at Carleton) became the Division 3 National champions. Yes... in other words, they are the best Division 3 women's team from Blaine, Washington to Key West, Florida, and from Barrow, Alaska to Ka Lae, Hawaii (okay, that might not be fair... I'm not sure any of those places know what Ultimate Frisbee is). Anyway, they're the best!
As a bit of background, Division 1 and Division 3 operate a bit differently in Ultimate Frisbee than in other collegiate sports. To begin with, Ultimate is not an NCAA sport, so I'm not really sure why they adopted the D1 and D3 categories. Colleges and Universities with a student body size greater than 7,500 must be part of the the D1 competition, but smaller schools (like Carleton) can play in D1s also if they opt to. Which is a really nice system because it allows us to send three - almost four (so close, GoP!) - teams to Nationals in one year! Syzygy and CUT will be playing in D1 Nationals next weekend - GoP won D3 Sectionals and opted to play in D1 Regionals in hope of a good enough result to qualify for D1 Nationals (they won D3 Nationals last year, so I think they kinda felt like they'd been there, done that). Alas, they didn't quite make it, but they've got it next year!
Anyway - so Eclipse has been rocking stuff pretty much all year, shaking things up in the Midwest region. They didn't even go to Nationals last year, not because they didn't qualify, but because they opted to stay here and experience Carleton 8th weekend instead (which was legit - it was a great spring concert). This year, they were seeded #1 at Nationals and they certainly didn't let us down, results- or excitement-wise. After winning all their games on Saturday and Sunday morning, they arrived in the finals against Williams. And promptly, their twitter account - which hundreds of Carls had been glued to all day - overloaded and shut down. Hours of nervous waiting later, we learned that they had pulled out an 8-7 win over WUFO (Williams).
Here's how it happened: Williams came out on fire. They scored the first, then got a break. And another one. And another. Before Eclipse really knew what hit them, they were down 5-0 in the D3 National Championship. The Williams players were quick, smart, and had good fundamentals, but Eek wouldn't be rolled. Somehow, they managed to dig deep, find a spark and score. Once they had a taste of that, they just couldn't stop! Eclipse went on a 6-point run, which is a very difficult feat in a sport where if you score, you play defense and must force a turnover to get back on offense. When the score was 6-5 Eclipse, soft cap went on, meaning the game would be capped when the first team reached 8 points. Williams got the next point, making the score 6-6, but Carleton rallied back, scoring the next one. Eclipse didn't disappoint, because on an arching throw from freshman Kalli Perano to senior Kate Trennary, Eclipse won the game and the D3 National title.
Leigh-Anne Burkowski described their change in strategy which helped them rally against Williams: "We switched our defense to a super janky poach D because nobody else had tried it on them. It worked out pretty well!"
Yes, Leigh-Anne, that it did.
And so as Eclipse is celebrating with all their newly-acquired Championship swag (and 9th week homework), Syzygy is gearing up for our own Nationals next weekend in Boulder, CO. I haven't been talking much about our team this year (I was injured for a while and so I didn't go to all the winter tournaments), but truth be told we've been kicking up some dust ourselves. We beat some really highly-ranked teams, including Cal Berkeley, University of British Columbia and our regional arch-rival, Wisconsin.
Historically, we're a team that peaks at Nationals, and I think practices lately have definitely been showing that. Our throws look good, our cuts are hard, our defense is on fire, and we're laying out for discs all over the place. We've played in some of the most bizarre wind and precipitation this year, so all that's left is some nice mile-high sun!
If you're interested, you can follow our games this Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (if we make the finals) on our twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/SyzygyUltimate, or check the pools, brackets and scores after games here: http://scores.usaultimate.org/scores/#college-womens/tournament/8931.
ANDDDDDDDD... we're selling swag! I've received a few emails and comments from people who wanted to know if they could buy our jerseys, shorts or hats... and the answer is YES! We have last year's short and long sleeves, this year's short and long sleeves (the latter brings back the Syzygy snake!), this year's Patagonia shorts and lots of trucker hats. We have most sizes of most things and prices for jerseys and shorts range from ~25 to 35 bucks (hats are 12 each).
Take a look, let me know if you're interested (email@example.com)! We love spreading Syzygy across the country.