Sweets face obstacles in first tournament

Kendra Winchester

The men’s Ultimate Frisbee team kicked off their spring season two weekends ago in San Diego, where they went 1-5. Although a learning experience, arriving with only a total of 15 players did not offer them as much depth as they would have liked. However, the necessity of younger, newer players stepping in offered more chances than usual to improve.

Though the depth of the team has caused problems, the experience some of the newcomers are getting will be very valuable in their upcoming tournaments.

“We have very little experience playing high level Ultimate, and this tournament was an opportunity for a bunch of guys to learn and grow. We did not do very well in terms of wins and losses, but we improved drastically throughout the weekend” said Peter O’Rourke, a senior captain.

Despite the improvement from the San Diego tournament, The Sweets have have some tremendous losses this season due to injury that will likely continue to plague the team.

“By far the biggest loss is captain Pete O’Rourke, who had significant hip surgery and will miss the entire season. We should get some other crucial depth and talent back by the playoffs,” said junior Evie Vermeer.

While they had a hard time putting together a full game in San Diego, the outcomes with the development of the team has better prepared the team for their upcoming tournaments this spring.

“As many players found out, playing in practice is one thing, but tournaments are entirely different. I think we struggled in San Diego because sometimes it can be hard to recognize flaws in your team until you’re matched up against someone other than yourselves. I strongly believe that you can improve in one tournament as much as you might in an entire month of practice,” said senior Elliot Moskat.

In addition to the first tournament offering a new outlook on the team’s season, the influx of injuries to some top players, including two of the three captains, has brought about a new dynamic for the team.

“Now our team needs to assume much more of the faceless army identity,” said Moskat. “Everyone has a role on the team and we will win or lose based on how well every single individual does his role. Injuries also mean that we have to be exceptionally sound in our fundamentals and strategy. The margin for error is much smaller. We need to be smarter players and we need to be able to trust each other to get the job done.”

There have been many players that have stepped up since their last tournament, including sophomore Reed Hendrickson.

“He has really come onto the scene. Last year when he was a first-year we knew he had the potential to be a great player on The Sweets. This year he’s showing that come his senior year, he will undoubtedly be one of the best players in the Northwest. Physically he’s gifted by being a huge dude, but also quick and agile, which is so important in Ultimate. Mentally he understands the game at a level that most sophomore players don’t,” said Moskat.

Another player to step up quite a bit is sophomore Nathan Gruenberg.

“He’s really come into his own this year because of hard-work and commitment to becoming better. He is ridiculously intense, and he holds himself and others to the highest standard possible. He wants to improve and he wants to be the best every second he’s on the field, and that’s made other teams recognize him as a dangerous player when they match-up with us,” said Moskat.

Another mention is that of sophomore Chris Cahoon, who has lots of promise according to O’Rourke.

Last weekend, the team was in Las Vegas for another tournament, where they saw some marked improvement already, winning two of four on the weekend.

Looking ahead to the rest of their season, The Sweets are looking to peak at just the right time in order to be at their best come playoff time.

“We’re looking to play our best Ultimate at the last day of regionals,” said Moskat. “In years past there’s definitely been a greater focus on succeeding in regular season tournaments like San Diego, but this year our focus is simply about getting better every single day between now and the last point of our last game.”

The team’s regional playoff tournament is in the first weekend of May. The Sweets earned the right to host the tournament, which heightens the excitement of it all.

“We will have the opportunity to play in front of our friends and show them what we are all about,” said O’Rourke.

Truly believing in the team will help the Sweets sweep the postseason, and hopefully playing in front of a home crowd for regionals will boost some of their momentum in the playoffs.