The Premier Ultimate League is off and running.
April 21, 2019 by Daniel Prentice in News, Recap with 0 comments
MEDELLÍN — Medellín Revolution topped Atlanta Soul 30-20 in the first ever pro women’s ultimate game in Colombia in front of a packed TEP crowd on Saturday night. It was a grand display for the opening night of the Premier Ultimate League, featuring plenty of star performances from both teams. But the moment, of course, was bigger than the result of the game and will be remembered as an iconic night for women’s ultimate around the world.
“That’s what we’re trying to create: the best athletes in the world on display for the world to see,” said PUL President and Soul founder Maddy Frey.
First and foremost, Revolution put on a fantastic show as the hosts. The crowd was electric, heavily invested in the game from the opening pull. The pre-game ceremonies were professional and captured the gravity of the occasion. There was music played between points and lights displays, the VIP section was treated to free snacks and drinks, there was a great halftime show, and the game just had the feel of a true, professional sporting event.
There was palpable energy and excitement in the stadium, and it translated to some crackling ultimate on the field, particularly early. Highlight reel plays punctuated the first quarter: Layout blocks from Manuela Cardenas, Robyn Wiseman, and Kate Travaglini, an immaculate huck and this massive layout catch from Erynn Schroeder.
Revolution led 9-6 at the end of the first quarter, despite giving up the first break of the game. But the Soul fought back in the second quarter, getting a break to make it 10-9 thanks to a block from Leah Tsinajinnie and Schroeder hitting Kat Yost for the score.
Revolution was able to push the lead back out to 16-13 at the half, due to some execution errors and poor offensive decision making from the Soul, but it wasn’t until the second half that the hosts were really able to pull away.
Revo’s depth players had an advantage over Soul’s, and as the game eclipsed the two hour mark, Revo’s superior bench helped build the lead down the stretch. Soul also had no answer for the speed of Elizabeth Mosquera, who ended the game with five goals, two assists, and four blocks. She was too much for Soul both offensively and defensively, where Revo did a great job of lining her up in position to get blocks and then having a mismatch going the other way.
She was well deserving of her player of the game honors, though Soul’s Kate Travaglini’s six goal, three block performance earned her an honorable mention.
The final score was comfortable for Revolution in the end, but it belied the intensity, and, indeed, the entertainment factor of the game. But the game was obviously about more than any sort of final score on the field.
Though the game wasn’t technically the first PUL game ever (the opening pull was preceded by the start of the Columbus Pride vs. Nashville Nightshade game by about an hour and a half), because of the two teams playing, both so heavily involved in the creation of the league and in efforts to grow women’s ultimate around the world, it felt like a landmark moment for ultimate.
That gravity was not lost on the players, either. League President and Soul founder Maddy Frey said she cried several times during the game, as she saw her teammates and opponents make incredible play after incredible play on one of the biggest stages in the history of women’s ultimate.
Team captain Shanye Crawford was in a similar place emotionally. “I was fighting back tears, quite a lot, thinking about all the people that are watching us and supporting us and lifting us,” she said. “It was wonderfully overwhelming.”
“Just the energy from both teams and the stadium full of people,” said Soul coach Meredith Leahy. “You could just feel, it was very light and very positive, and everybody was sort of encouraging everyone to play their hardest. It was really cool.”
It seemed those emotions were most prevalent in that thrilling first quarter. “I think we surprised everyone,” said Frey of the games early fireworks show. “We’re real good and no one expected it.”
“I think that first part was more like all of this energy in the crowd and all of the expectations, there was a lot of people watching and following the game, and I think all the energy was here,” said Revolution head coach Mauricio Moore. “But I will say, I think that quarter was more like all this past collapsed. All this past…the energy of the world, collapsing in one quarter. Everyone was like, layout! I wanna be a professional!”
Before the game, Moore certainly didn’t expect the game to be as tightly contested as it was through the first half. But, again with eyes on the bigger picture, Moore thought that was a positive thing, too. “I have to be honest, I was not expecting this intensity in the first half,” he said. “They were so fast. I was like, oh God, we’ve been playing for an hour and we’re still tied, this is gonna be tough. That makes me feel really good, because I feel like we have a lot of really good ultimate with these new clubs, and that made me feel really good.”
For Moore, the game was the culmination of years of hard work. “It was fantastic because, we just made it,” he sajd. “It was two years ago when we started our road towards Cincinnati. Our goal in Cincinnati, it was beat Worlds, but more than that, we wanted to create a professional scene for women’s, and we needed to do a really good job in Cincinnati, and we needed to spread the word, and then we have some attention and keep doing it for professional.”
The game was a culmination of sorts, but also a beginning for Moore and Revolution, as well as the PUL. “I think we’re doing a really good thing for the ultimate community. I think this step is gonna be remarkable,” said Moore. “This TEP for us it’s the beginning. But we are trying to connect all women’s teams. That’s why we picked some really good players from other really good teams. We had this game against Black Widows and they told us something that I’ll never forget. They said, ‘You have no idea how Revo is impacting women’s ultimate around the world.’ This is a little town. And we didn’t realize until now that we’re seeing a lot of people following in our steps. We have a good club. We have good players. But more than that, it’s the full concept, the full energy. For us, it’s the beginning of a new era of ultimate.”
It’s also the beginning of a long season ahead for Revolution. This was their only home game on the PUL schedule. They’ll play four road games in the United States, as well as attend the U.S. Open and go on a tour of Australia later in the year. “It’s gonna be an insane year,” said Moore. “It’s gonna be super fun. This season is gonna be long, but we know that’s how we have to do it, spreading it around the world as much as we can. This is a really good beginning.”
Before Revo hits the road, though, they’ll hopefully have some time to appreciate the show that they and Soul put on. Virtually everything about the night lived up to the momentous occasion. It’s a game and moment that will live in the memory of those who were a part of it — the players, the fans, and everyone who helped put the league and game together — forever.