This past memorial day, Carleton’s men’s ultimate team, CUT, won the 2009 UPA College National Championships, held at Ohio State University. In the finals, CUT faced Colorado’s Mamabird and defeated them 15-11, the exact same opponent and score of CUT’s last National Championship in 2001. Carleton’s women’s team, Syzygy also competed this past weekend coming in 9th place in the 20-team field.
CUT came into the weekend seeded first overall based on their results from tournaments earlier in the season. As the first seed, CUT was placed in a pool of Illinois (8th seed), Tufts (12th), Georgia (13th), and UC-Santa Barbra (17th). CUT’s first game came Friday against Illinios. CUT came out firing with suffocating defense, a theme that would continue throughout the tournament and rolled to an easy 15-6 victory. Following a five hour bye, CUT then faced UC-Santa Barbara, the two sides traded for a while until CUT began to put on the pressure and finished the game 15-9.
Saturday brought two more pool play games, Tufts and Georgia. In the first game of the day, against Tufts, CUT came out strong keeping relentless pressure that Tufts simply could not overcome. With Carleton’s handler defense overwhelming Tufts offense, CUT easily won 15-7. With a record of 3-0, Carleton had successfully clinched first place in their pool and a bye into the quarterfinals regardless of the result against Georgia, but CUT was determined to go undefeated in pool play and came out ready to take on Georgia. The game was hard fought on both sides of the disc, as neither team was willing to give up any easy points. In the end, Carleton’s stingy defense was able to get enough breaks, and the offense was steady as always as CUT prevailed 15-10, sending them into the elimination rounds undefeated.
With the bye into quarters, CUT rested and prepared for their Sunday match up against the winner of Cornell vs. Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh won that pre-quarters game in dramatic 15-13 fashion, but that would not be the last exciting game for Pitt. Carleton dominated the first half of the Pitt vs. CUT game. Carleton’s suffocating defense was on fire getting break after break as CUT built a comfortable 8-4 lead. But in the second half, Carleton’s offense, for the first time in many months ran into a bit of trouble as their handlers began to have trouble distributing the disc around the field. Pitt clawed their way back into the game and actually taking the lead 14-13, the only late game lead against CUT all tournament. With the other quarterfinals over, the sideline became packed with fans, but CUT’s offense worked it up the field as Sam Kanner ’10 hit Patrick Roberts ’11 for the score to tie the game at 14-14. On the ensuing point, Pitt was able to work it downfield, but Chris Kosednar ’09 had an amazing layout d on the sideline to give CUT back the disc. CUT continued to work it and won the next two points to take the game 16-14.
This set up an exciting semifinal match up against Stanford Bloodthirsty, who had defeated the defending champions the Wisconsin Hodags in their semifinal game. After regrouping from their close quarterfinals game, CUT came prepared knowing that they could not take opponents lightly again or else they would not be so fortunate as their close win over Pitt. Again CUT’s defense proved to be the foundation on which the team was built as the downfield cutters gave up nothing as the handlers tried to contain disc movement. CUT again took have, this time 8-5, but at halftime tried to remain unsatisfied so as to not have another Pittsburgh type lapse. CUT came out firing again and this time the offense did not succumb second half pressure as CUT pulled off the 15-10 victory.
But CUT did receive another scare in the semifinals as one of their captains, and defensive keys, Kanner went down with a knee injury when a Stanford player awkwardly landed on him towards the end of the game. Kanner had to be helped off the fields and did not return all game leaving his status questionable for Monday’s final.
As Monday came, and Kanner’s status still questionable, CUT arrived at the fields ready and prepared to face Colorado Mamabird a team that CUT saw twice at Vegas in February (CUT won the first game but lost the second) but had not seen them since. Mamabird had dismantled Texas 15-10 in the other semifinal.
As CUT began their warm-ups, news arrived that Kanner would be able to play. The swelling in his knee had decreased enough, and with a knee brace on, he felt as though it was stable enough to play.
With a large crowd gathered and watching CUT came storming out of the gates on defense winning the first point and setting the tone for the rest of the game. But the defense didn’t stop there, CUT’s D-line broke for the first seven points, giving CUT a 7-0 lead, almost unheard of in the history of the championship. The second half proved to be a little closer, but CUT’s lead was too great to overcome and when up 14-11, senior Kosednar hit fellow senior Jerome Potter for the winning goal as the sidelines and fans erupted in cheers.
The win culminates a great career for the five seniors on the team, who have improved their finishes each season and finished their careers as national champions. Although losing their dedication and leadership will be hard, CUT will be returning many key elements to this years team and will be looking to pick up new talent in the fall as they begin their title defense.