Air Squids Take Flight in Preseason Matchup

    The men’s and women’s ultimate Frisbee teams looked to start their seasons off with a bang during at UCSD’s Ultimate Warmup Tournament on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19. This may have only been a preseason tournament, but the competition was fierce as each team looked to make an early statement.

    Hillary Elder/Guardian
    The UCSD Ultimate Warmup Tournament on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 offered game experience for the young Tritons, with the women’s squad winning two of five matches.

    The UCSD men’s team, the Air Squids, looked at this tournament as an opportunity to get its surplus of freshmen some valuable playing time and game experience.

    “”We have over 50 rookies this year, which is more than most teams have on their entire roster, so we wanted to make sure they all got a chance to play a lot,”” senior Jeff Elliott said. “”We lost 11 guys from our ‘A’ squad last year, so a lot of new guys are going to have to step it up if we want to be successful.””

    With such a large line-up, the Air Squids were forced to break into three separate teams for the tournament: Team Octopus, Mortal Kombat and Team Navajo. Each team featured an equal mix of savvy veterans and hungry rookies that allowed all members to develop vital chemistry.

    The first day of the tournament produced modest results for all three men’s teams. Team Octopus played four matches, finishing with a record of 2-2. In the first match, it lost to eventual tournament champion UCLA 6-13. It followed the loss with two straight wins against Cal State Long Beach and University of Arizona, by scores of 13-9 and 13-6, respectively.

    Team Octopus finished the day with a heartbreaking loss to UC Santa Barbara by a score of 11-12. The match was all tied up, and due to nightfall, the next point would secure the victory. Team Octopus appeared to have made a solid defensive play to force a turnover, but UC Santa Barbara called a controversial foul on Team Octopus that led to the winning score.

    “”We thought it was a bad call,”” Elliott said. “”But it was a good experience for the younger guys to play in a closely contested match for the first time.””

    Mortal Kombat also finished the first day of competition with a record of 2-2. The day started out with a loss to University of San Diego 7-13. However, the team rebounded and beat Occidental College 13-8 and regional rival UC Santa Barbara 13-12. The win against UC Santa Barbara featured a ferocious comeback as UCSD rallied from a 10-12 deficit for the win. Mortal Kombat finished the day with a win against Cal State Long Beach by a score of 11-10.

    Senior Squids captain Quinn Kennett said that his team learned a lot from tournament play.

    “”There is only one spot in nationals from our region this year and we were able to get our first look at some of the competition that we will be up against,”” Kennett said. “”We need to work on our defense and fundamentals, but I thought we played very well overall.””

    Team Navajo did not quite play up to par on the first day and finished with a record of 1-3. The day began with a pair of losses, as the team fell to Northern Arizona University 10-13 and Claremont McKenna College 7-13. Team Navajo followed the losses with its lone win of the day, narrowly beating UC Irvine 13-12. The team finished the day with a loss to UC Santa Barbara 8-13.

    “”I was disappointed with the results for Team Navajo,”” senior captain Robert Langsner said. “”I thought we should have been in the championship bracket, but we all played hard and the new guys looked surprisingly comfortable out there.””

    Although all three men’s teams were eliminated from the championship bracket during the first day of competition, Elliott said that everyone took a step in the right direction.

    “”The tournament allowed the veteran players to get to know the young guys a lot better,”” Elliott said. “”A lot of the younger guys are very athletic and got to practice making their cuts and going deep for hucks from the older guys.””

    Kennett was thoroughly impressed with the freshmen on the squad, and believes that they will be key as the Air Squids look to replace some valuable players this season.

    “”The freshmen played fantastic the entire tournament and were getting noticed by a lot of people,”” Kennett said. “”After this tournament you can really tell that they have become true ultimate Frisbee players.””

    The women’s ultimate Frisbee team is also looking to develop its influx of young talent for the upcoming season. The team started the tournament well, beating UC Irvine 15-5 and Claremont McKenna College 15-7. Unfortunately, the winning streak stopped there as UCSD was handed two consecutive losses by the University of Southern California and UCLA. On Sunday, UCSD looked to find its winning ways again, but fell to University of Arizona 9-13.

    Just like its male counterpart, the women’s ultimate team used this warmup tournament as a way to get its newcomers plenty of game experience.

    “”We had a lot of rookies on the field at the same time,”” senior Goldy Thach said. “”We wanted them to find out what ultimate was going to be like.””

    Thach said that there is a lot of room for improvement before the beginning of the regular season.

    “”We definitely need to work on our deep throwing game,”” Thach said. “”We use short passes a little bit too often; we just need to give the deep throws a try.””

    The men’s and women’s teams will have a while to polish their skills, as their next matches are on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 at the annual Santa Barbara Invite.

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