As has been the theme of their season, UNC-Chapel Hill’s women’s ultimate Frisbee team faced some adverse conditions at the Philly Classic last weekend.
Held at Pennsylvania State University – field locations moved from Manheim, Penn., because of weather – the women faced 50-mile-an-hour winds and pouring rain on Saturday, March 13, said Leila Tunnell, team captain.
“It was probably the ugliest ultimate I’ve ever played,” said Tunnell, a UNC senior, who’s been playing since middle school. “I’ve never played in that much wind.”
But the wild weather wasn’t the only wrench thrown into the weekend’s plans. Nor was the change in fields. The tournament originally boasted a 40-plus team roster, but weather conditions across the country limited travel and reduced that number to around 37.
And because the new field sites were too small to have enough teams at any one place for traditional pool and bracket play, the tournament dissolved into round robin-type play.
photo by Erin Wiltgen
Janna Coulter signals ready before a point
Each team was guaranteed to play six games all weekend, partly in an effort to keep teams on track to complete the new 10 UPA-sanctioned game requirement in order to compete in the championship series.
The change in the organization also changed the scheduling – Tunnell said Pleiades played its first game at 7 a.m. Saturday, while other teams didn’t start until 5 p.m.
But despite the challenges, Tunnell said she thought her team did fairly well, going undefeated.
“Not necessarily in the way we played, I think, more so just in our ability to stay positive and overcome a lot of adversity as a team,” she said. “Everyone was laughing and staying happy even though it was awful, awful weather. It wasn’t really ultimate, it was more of a team bonding.”
Even though the wind nullified any advanced strategy on Saturday, Tunnell said she saw a lot of positive play from her teammates.
photo by Erin Wiltgen
Leila Tunnell grabs a disc out of the reach of her defender
“It was much more of a mental game more than a game of skill,” she said. “We definitely played for positioning more than fundamentals, and I think that really worked in our advantage on Saturday.”
In other words, instead of attempting multiple short, quick passes to work the disc up the field – a bad idea in torrential wind – the team settled on the huck-and-play-D strategy: throwing the disc as far down the field as possible, hoping your team catches it and if not hope to force a quick turn on defense.
Less wind on Sunday, however, meant for a change in strategy.
“I think we had a hard time transitioning from that sort of play, pulling that back and being able to play fundamentally sound Frisbee,” Tunnell said.
All-told, however, the weekend turned into another learning experience for Pleiades.
“I think we learned that we can be a very adaptable team,” Tunnell said. “That’s sort of something we’ve been experimenting with all year. We’ve had a lot of different circumstances, and in each instance we’ve really risen to the occasion.”
Given the team’s experience and resulting skill, Tunnell said Pleiades will be a force to be reckoned with: “I think we’re one of the strongest teams in the country this year.”
For more info:
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What is ultimate Frisbee
Women’s ultimate continues to evolve, develop sport
Triangle area hosted 2010 U.S. Under-20 National Team tryouts March 13-14
What is the UPA?