APRIL 15-16, 2017

(Linda Mueller).

(Linda Mueller).

Uncharacteristically warm weather in Ithaca, New York, welcomed Western New York DI teams to the Conference Championships over the weekend. The biggest story heading into pool play Saturday was the advent of the University of Toronto on the Sectionals scene. Having played in zero USAU sanctioned games this season, no one knew quite what to expect from this Canadian question mark.

In Pool A, Cornell cruised through Saturday with solid wins against Syracuse, Toronto and SUNY Buffalo. Meanwhile, in Pool B, SUNY Binghamton came out the hard-fought victor going 3–0 on the day with tight games against Ottawa (13–12) and Rochester (15–12). With 20 MPH winds encouraging all sides to play some zone, pool play on Saturday was as equal parts defensive coordination and offensive patience.

The eight-team tournament schedule—with four teams advancing to Regionals—meant that the top seed from each pool met in a championship round on Sunday at 11:00 AM with no semi-finals prior.

In the finals, SUNY Binghamton used a tight defensive zone to try to slow down Cornell’s offensive handler movement but early breaks by Cornell’s veteran players made this a tough job for the athletic Binghamton team. The wind on Cornell’s campus fields was gusting and both teams had to adjust their offenses to emphasize the underneath game in this strong upwind-downwind competition. Ultimately, Cornell pulled away with final score of 13–6 and a ticket to Regionals.

After a tiring finals competition against Cornell, Binghamton faced off with Ottawa for a second time over the weekend, this time in the second place game. Ottawa’s inside breaks and quick handler movement proved too much for Binghamton to keep up with a second time around, and Ottawa pulled out a second place finish 15–7. Binghamton took the third place bid to Regionals.

At the same time, a heated fourth place game was transpiring on the next field over between Toronto and Rochester. For Regionals, this was the “game-to-go” as only four bids were allocated to the Western New York section—this was the end of the season for this game’s loser. Interestingly, the 10 bids available for Metro East Regionals were divvyed up 6-4 (six to the Eastern Metro East and four to Western New York), because of the small number of ranked teams in the Western New York section. Had Toronto or Ottawa played enough USAU sanctioned games to have been ranked, there would likely have been one or more additional bids allocated to the Western New York section (and both Toronto and Rochester would have likely qualified for Regionals).

This game-to-go was one of the closest of the weekend. An early break by Toronto kept them ahead a couple of points for most of the game, but Rochester refused to roll over. Heads high, both teams fought tooth and nail to claim that coveted final bid. In the end, Toronto narrowly defeated Rochester 11–9 in a well-played game that abruptly ended the season of a talented Rochester team.

Michaela "McDuds" Dudley is an alumna of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she started her ultimate career playing for Pleiades. After graduating from UNC in 2011, she attended law school at Cornell where she played her fifth year before transitioning to coach the Cornell Wild Roses. Though she recently moved from New York to Boston, she still coaches the Roses with fellow Cornellian Christine "Crispy" Georgakakos. When she's not playing ultimate, McDuds is practicing corporate law for a firm in Boston and wishing she had more time to bake.