Through heavy wind and blinding sun, the Carleton Ultimate Team persevered to take first overall in the North Central Regionals. Because of how well teams in the region had performed throughout the regular season, the region had five bids to the national tournament, rather than the usual three, out twenty teams overall.
Saturday was cold, wet and windy as CUT took to the field. After easily dispatching the University of Wisconsin Stevens-Point, 17-3, in the first round of pool play, CUT had a tougher game against Luther, dropping several early breaks. The team attempted to claw its way back, but fell short, dropping the second pool play game, 11-13. The loss meant that CUT finished second in their pool, and faced Minnesota in the Quarterfinals of the championship bracket.
The game against Minnesota went back and forth, with CUT gaining an early lead but Minnesota hitting its stride in the second half. After battling through a long point that saw multiple layouts, CUT managed to go up by a mere point, and soon after got an upwind break to win the game, 12-10. The victory set CUT up for a semifinals match against Wisconsin the next day.
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, and CUT went into the first match knowing that a win in the semis would guarantee a bid to nationals, while a loss would mean dropping into the second-place bracket, and needing more wins. CUT’s previous encounter with Wisconsin was in Florida, where the team lost on universe point, 15-16. This match, however, would go completely differently: after Sam Keller ‘s handblock on Wisconsin’s first upfield pass, CUT traded points with Wisconsin to go up, 3-2, until they got two breaks to go up 5-2. Although Wisconsin scored soon after, its third point would be its last, as CUT proceeded to score ten straight points to win, 15-3. With the win, the team was guaranteed no worse than third place, as well as a certain bid to the national tournament.
During the finals, CUT came out firing, and despite giving up an early break, they roared back with stellar defensive play to win both the game and the region, 15-8. The team particularly wanted to thank the fans who braved the weather to support them.
Next up for CUT is the national championships in Boulder, CO, on May 25th through 28th (ninth weekend).