Conditions Swamp UBC, Send Whitman To Semis, Presented By Spin Ultimate

The Whitman Sweets set a new high for their program as they earn their first ever berth in the semifinals.

Linnea Soo gets the block against Ester Au of UBC. Photo: Paul Andris -- UltiPhotos.com
Linnea Soo gets the block against Ester Au of UBC. Photo: Paul Andris — UltiPhotos.com

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The Whitman Sweets are moving onto the semifinals. A quarters matchup between two regional foes and two of the top five seeds of the tournament seemed like it had the potential to be an instant classic, but the game did not live up to that potential. The weather was miserable through the first half, with a steady rain making the playing conditions less than ideal. The rain had a much bigger impact on UBC than it did Whitman.

The Thunderbirds held on the first point of the game, but they were unable to hold again until the ninth point of the game. UBC struggled to make even the most routine plays, dropping simple catches and having typically easy throws slip from their fingers. Whitman seemed hardly bothered by the inclement weather at all.

“This is our kind of weather,” said Whitman coach Ben McGinn after the game. Whitman came out and played with more intensity and more focus than their counterparts and rode the 7-1 lead to an 8-3 halftime advantage and the eventual 15-9 victory.

“We just believed. We had a big win against them at Regionals and we knew that… if we won the energy battle we were going to win the game,” commented McGinn. We came out with a lot more fire than they did and that’s what won us the game.”

Whitman’s strength was in its deep game. The Sweets would frequently look to quickly strike deep, many times to Marlena Sloss, right on the doorstep. Whitman’s deep game was always going to be a factor one way or another, and it was the one thing UBC coach Jeff Cruickshank had highlighted as something his team would look to hinder. They were unsuccessful in doing so.

“Sometimes our reputation is [that we throw] a lot of flat-footed hucks that really are quite predictable if you’ve seen us play, and we’ve certainly seen UBC quite a lot,” said McGinn. “I think in this game we did a great job of moving the disc incredibly quickly, getting our hucks out of movement. That’s a lot more difficult to defend.”

The win means that the Sweets have locked up their best Nationals finish in postseason history, regardless of what happens in their semifinal game. It was clear the way the coaches and players reacted to scoring the final point that the win was a little extra special to them.

“Our program’s ceiling prior to this game was quarters,” McGinn said. “This year we’re into semis, new heights for this program so that means a hell of a lot to us.”

Whitman will look to take those heights even higher against Virginia in semis. The Sweets have been one of the two or three most impressive teams all tournament — along with Hydra and Stanford — and have proven they can win in a variety of conditions and from different game situations. The Sweets came into the tournament as one of the more likely teams to win the whole thing, and their impressive showing this morning against UBC did absolutely nothing to hurt that reputation.

  1. Daniel Prentice

    Daniel is a product of the Tallahassee ultimate community and has been writing for Ultiworld since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @danielprent.

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