Ultimate team ties for fifth at Regionals
The Carnegie Mellon men’s Ultimate team, Mr. Yuk, took part in the USA Ultimate’s Ohio Valley Division-I College Open Regionals this weekend. The team went 4–2 this tournament and ended up tying for fifth after being awarded the third seed at the onset of the tournament.
Head coach Aaron Kane said the team was disappointed with the overall result, having high expectations of finishing in the top two. The team took solace in the fact that the loss came against the best schools in the conference. Captain Nipunn Koorapati, a master’s student in electrical and computer engineering, said, “[We] wanted to be a strong contender in the region, and we definitely were, regardless of the final place result.”
Mr. Yuk had a busy weekend, with six matches over the course of Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the tournament featured a round robin format, in which teams were split into groups of four and played three matches against the other members in the group.
Carnegie Mellon faced Saint Joseph’s University and emerged with a 13–8 victory after pulling out to an early lead and never relinquishing it. Mr. Yuk then focused on Millersville University, whom it beat 13–7. Mr. Yuk ended up losing the last game of group play with a score of 11–12 against the University of Cincinnati. The teams were evenly matched, but the Tartans could not pull ahead before the time ran out. It was a position Mr. Yuk has been in many times; Koorapati said “the team played in a lot of close games all year.”
For the last match on Saturday and all of Sunday, the tournament’s format became a single-elimination bracket, with seeding decided by results on Saturday. Carnegie Mellon’s 2–1 record meant that the team had to win all of the single-elimination matches to advance to Nationals.
Mr. Yuk hit the ground running, winning the first two matches of the single-elimination tournament against Shippensburg University (14–12) and Kenyon College (14–10). The team was playing well with high energy all weekend. The runs off the disc, the quick combination throws, and even the long bombs were finding their marks this weekend, Kane said.
When playing Pennsylvania State University, Carnegie Mellon brought that momentum with them and jumped out in front early, leading Penn State 8–6 at halftime; however, Carnegie Mellon’s lead shrank until the team ended up losing 12–14. “We played them close, and we were up at half-time; we just came up a little short,” Koorapati said.
Kane said of this weekend, “There was a ton of effort, but any shortcomings came down to lack of depth and not executing [in vital moments].” The loss ended the tournament and the season for Mr. Yuk.
Mr. Yuk was proud of its season; according to Koorapati, they went into the season wanting to be competitive against the best teams in the conference, and they met that goal. The team also had a strong season overall: Mr. Yuk went 24–8 all season and never lost more than two games in any one tournament. The team also improved upon particular aspects of its play: Kane explained, “often [Mr. Yuk] would start ahead a lot, and in the past, prior teams would not hold on, but this team rallied and got better at finishing those games off.”
That level of stability is something that Kane is looking forward to building on while cultivating further new talent going into next year.