Sorry for the delay in this recap, I was away from my computer for a while. We came into Nationals this year with the 6 seed, looking to make some noise deep into the tournament. Our path would not be easy, as every team in Boulder was stacked with fierce competitors. Our pool pitted us against Carleton, Colorado, Washington and Cornell.
The tournament began for us against a Washington team that we were yet to see in 2012. They came out strong, breaking us on the first point and disrupting our standard offense. We gained our feet a bit more as the first half went on, eventually breaking back and taking half 8-7. However, at the beginning of the second half our offense faltered again -- often turning it over at least once a point and giving up a couple of breaks. As the game went on UW took a 12-11 lead with the soft cap on. Thankfully our defense stepped up and got 2 straight breaks before the Washington offense could score, forcing universe point. Our offense received, marched down the field and scored the game winner on a hammer from Alex Cooper to Jack Hatchett.
The second game of the day was against the #3 seed overall Carleton College. We were yet to play them in the 2012 season and were hoping to play spoiler to their top seed in the pool. Unfortunately we got off to a slow start and had trouble slowing down their fast handlers and break side cuts. The offense got broken a couple times and we struggled to maintain cohesion. At half we were down 8-4. The second half was brighter for us as we gained a few breaks back thanks to solid man defense and some athletic plays. Both Jack Hatchett and Carter Thallon shined on the D-line, as Hatchett had multiple run through D's and Thallon had a huge sky over his defender to earn a break. Our run was cut short, however, when Carleton marched down the field on the break side to score the winning goal and take a 15-13 victory.
Saturday morning we came out strong and focused against the Cornell Buds. Our offense showed a relentless focus that had been absent the previous day and the D-line continued to generate turnovers and punch in breaks. Sam K-S and Adrian Banerji fueled the offense early on with their sharp, efficient cutting. The D-line cutters moved the disc well and broke a few times to earn an 8-4 halftime score. In the second half we came out and took care of business, working the disc up the break and open sides with ease. 14-7 victory.
Our last game of pool play was against the host team, Colorado Mamabird. With seeding going into pre-quarters on the line, we knew we would have to battle to earn the 2 spot in the pool. Piers Macnaughton had a huge game, scoring multiple goals in both halfs and handlers Eric Shaw and Alex Cooper again displayed their pinpoint throws despite a bit of wind. All in all a strong, albeit relatively uneventful game for us -- a 15-9 victory and a #2 spot in the pool.
Our pre-quarterfinal matchup was against the University of Texas, a team that we faced early in the season at Centex and played us to universe point. The wind had picked up towards the end of the day, so the game was decidedly upwind-downwind. We faced a lot of zone defense and played a good amount of it ourselves. On O we moved the disc quickly and efficiently throughout the game, regardless of the defense that they showed. Our D-line was tenacious, generating turn over after turn over and never giving up an easy yard. We got a few breaks in the first half going upwind which shifted the energy heavily in our favor. As the game progressed our energy seemed to be endless -- cutters looked fresh and the D-line kept working hard. The crowd fueled us through the windy conditions and Jack Hatchett found Carter Thallon for the 15-9 victory and a bid to Quarterfinals on Sunday.
We played the Wisconsin Hodags in the quarterfinals. It was an extremely exciting game filled with breaks, big D's and athletic plays. Sam K-S proved that he is one of the most dominant cutters in the country -- throwing and catching goals left and right. Lloyd Olson wowed everyone with his athletic defense. Cooper, Shaw and Matt Taylor continued to be unphaseable with the disc on offense. The sidelines were clutch, constantly keeping the energy up. In the end, they scored more points than us. We fought hard, we played with pride and we left everything on the field.
The experience of being in Boulder with the Tufts Ultimate program this year was incredible. With countless alumni, parents and friends supporting us from the sideline, there was no lack of Emen pride in the air. To step on the field wearing a Tufts jersey made me personally feel like I was a part of something much larger than a group of 22 college dudes. In victory and in defeat, there was pride in representing this amazing program. I can't stress enough how much we appreciate the texts, emails, tweets and words of support that people across the country and the world sent our way. Our performance at Nationals was representative of the strength, passion and dedication of everyone associated with the Tufts Emen.
Thank you for following us this year.