Coaches Leila and Joe sent in an update from the last day of play:
In the first game for the Girls, we faced Philadelphia Forge in the 13th place bracket. We arrived Monday morning looking like a totally new, seasoned and well-acquainted team. We went up early and maintained a comfortable lead the entire game. Our horizontal offense was clicking and running smoothly (something we had been working hard to achieve all weekend!) and the team had high energy and were cheering loudly, both on and off the field (another big goal of ours!). After a small come-back from Forge in the second half, we took the game 13-9. It felt like a huge success to win our first game of the weekend and everyone felt proud of all of the work we had put in to earn that win.
In our second and final game, we played Daydream from Illinois for 13th place. It was a fantastic game and both teams were well-matched. We had long, arduous points, but the team continued to improve and rise to a new challenge. We ended up winning in the cap, 12-7.
The VU Girls honor two of their coaches Leila and Nolan.
Going into tournament play, our big team goals were to achieve a loud and positive sideline and a cohesive and support team dynamic, and also to improve every single game we played. We did both of those things. Over the course of 3 days, our score improved every game. We went from two 5-15 losses on Saturday to cATLanta and DC Rogue (who ended up being in the finals of the U-20 division!), to 8-15 and 11-12 against Utah Swarm and DEVYL, respectively, on Sunday, to winning both of our games on Monday by subsequently larger margins against skilled opponents. What is even more impressive is that all but 4 players on our team could have been competing in the U-17 division. All of the teams we played were primarily comprised of 17,18 and 19-year-old athletes while the majority of our team was 15. Nolan, Dylan and I could not have been more proud of the way our team grew over the course of the tournament and we had so much fun coaching the incredible athletes on our team! The future of women’s ultimate in the northeast is looking VERY bright.
Getting some recovery in the airport before our flight home.
Our last day in Minnesota was clear and beautiful without any hints of thunder or lightning. Both of our teams had two more games to cap off our playing experiences.
Early in the morning, we rose to pack up all of our things and leave our home stays. We could never thank them enough for their hospitality! They helped us pack our things, and double-check to make sure nothing was left (but there still was). Making a connection like that in the Minnesota Ultimate community is something very special for us, especially since most of us have never been outside of our Valley Ultimate bubble.
In the first game for the Boys, we matched up with Nightmare from the Chicago area. We arrived a little bit late to the fields, but were quick to recognize the need for focus. The warm up was a challenge but the team was ready to flip the switch when the game began. We went up 4-1 and never looked back. Nightmare put up a fight in the second half, especially by coming up with a lot of difficult catches on tipped discs, but the VU Boys refocused and maintained consistent energy in our best start-to-finish effort of the tournament. We claimed the 14-9 victory!
In our second game, and final game of the tournament, we had a rematch with Charlotte Flight. It seemed like poetry to be playing the same team that we started the tournament against. And also, out of all of the fields at this giant sports complex, we played our final game on the field right next to the VU Girls as they played their final game!
The game began with our O line scoring, and then our D line earned a break. We broke a couple of more times and held a comfortable lead at half-time. Our energy was where it needed to be but Charlotte proved that the VU Boys weren’t the only team capable of improving after three days of ultimate. They earned their breaks back in the second half and it came down to a double game point, tied at 12-12. We received just as the VU Girls had made their way to our sideline after their victory. We had a chance to score, but turned it over. The Charlotte team worked it all the way down to the end zone before a massive lay out D on the goaline earned it back for us! After multiple timeouts and multiple changes in possession, we finally scored on the front cone to win the game and cap off our tournament with our best effort and savoriest win! We earned 25th place with the 13-12 victory. We were 5-2 over the course of the three day tournament.
After games were concluded we got lunch and watched the boys U20 final which featured many of our close friends and teammates from back home on the BUDA team. In an exciting game, the BUDA boys lost 14-15 to North Carolina’s Triforce. It was a thrilling, high paced game with a lot of big plays. After the game we got to connect with our friends briefly before the awards ceremony. Then it was off to the airport!
Five boys from western Massachusetts on the line for double game point in the U20 boys final for BUDA!
Despite a couple of delays, everyone made it home safely (as far as I know). We are already making plans to reconnect this summer and stay in touch for the next year. Valley Ultimate looks poised to grow and be more competitive on the field in 2018 and for years to come. Our deepest thanks go out to the players and families that supported this program in its first year in order to represent our community on a national stage. All of our players, coaches, and organizers should be very proud of what Valley Ultimate was able to do this year. It only gets better from here!
Waiting for the awards ceremony to begin.