Buzzer Beater: Union Take Texas [UFA Week 5, 2024]

While many ultimate players were focused on the D-I College Championships, there was plenty of UFA action

Chicago Union’s Jack Shanahan holds up the “U”. Photo: John Runnion.

This is a busy week in the college ultimate world with the D-I College Championships taking place in Madison, Wisconsin over the weekend. Despite much of the sport’s attention finding other ultimate to watch, there was a short but exciting UFA slate this week as the season nears its midpoint.

Raise the U

When the Chicago Cubs win a game, a flag with the letter W flies outside of Wrigley Field. When the Chicago Union win, perhaps they should fly the letter U. It could stand for unlikely or undeniable or unique or something like that. All would describe the Union’s 2-0 trip down to Texas.

Chicago was expected to beat Houston. The Havoc are a solid team, but lack the top end power and big game experience that Chicago has on its roster. The Union raced out to a 7-3 first quarter lead and never looked back. Veteran Jack Shanahan led the game with six assists, while newcomer Wilson Matthews stepped onto the O-line for the first time in a regular role and scored five goals.

The harder test would come the next day in Austin against the reigning South Division champion Sol. It was a windy game; both teams had offensive hold percentages in the thirties. Chicago’s clock management and clutch performances at the end of quarters proved to be the margin in a one goal game. The Union only had one significant break run in the game, a stretch of three scores in a row in the third quarter, but scored last in the final three quarters to get “free” breaks. Despite starting the game in an 0-2 hole, the Union managed to claw back with the help of intelligent coaching and timely playmaking.

The win brings Chicago up to a tie with Minnesota for first in the Central. Minnesota does already have a head-to-head win, but Chicago has the most impressive outcome with a road win against a 2023 Championship Weekend team. With these teams expected to be neck and neck in the standings all season, Chicago bought themselves some breathing room with an unexpected win. The Union will look to keep their momentum going when they host the Radicals on Friday.

News and Notes

  • New York pasted Philadelphia 23-15 at home. The Empire look back to their dominant ways as they had just seven turnovers in the game.
  • Pittsburgh split a weekend doubleheader with a win over Detroit and a loss to Toronto. Kevin Tong’s three blocks led the game for Toronto, as they earned their first win of the season and moved up to fourth place in the East.
  • Minnesota used a five goal third quarter run to break open the game and take down Madison. Brian Vohnoutka’s 4A/3G/1D statline chilled Madison’s winds of hope.
  • Seattle crushed Portland. Lukas Ambrose finished +9 while playing primarily on D-lines.
  • Salt Lake did enough to close out San Diego, 23-20. San Diego’s new addition KJ Koo slotted right into the offense, scoring five assists and two goals. With Koo on board, the Growlers have a key playmaker on hand to make a playoff push. Nearly halfway through the season, San Diego is just a game out of second place in the West.

Mailbag

Have a question about the UFA? Send it in to [email protected] with UFA Mailbag in the subject line. You can also message me on Twitter at @StallSeven, or subscribers can DM me in the Ultiworld Discord

We’re skipping the mailbag question this weekend, but please write in with questions about this week’s action and any midseason thoughts.

UFA Power Rankings:
Rank Team Change Prior
1 - 1
2 - 2
3 - 3
4 - 4
5 - 5
6 +1 7
7 +1 8
8 +1 9
9 -3 6
10 - 10
11 - 11
12 - 12
13 - 13
14 - 14
15 - 15
16 - 16
17 +3 20
18 -1 17
19 -1 18
20 +1 21
21 -2 19
22 - 22
23 - 23
24 - 24
  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).

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