The Wheaton Ultimate Frisbee (WULF) team lost fairly narrowly by a score of 12-15 in their season opener against Bridgewater State University (BSU). The game occured on Friday, Oct. 22 at the Diane C. Nordin field from 8 P.M. to just after 10 P.M. This game was also BSU’s first game of the season.
In attendance at the event was a small group of parents of BSU players and a large crowd of energized Wheaton Students. One such student, Harriet Matthews, ‘22, noted that she didn’t know much about the game, but that she “liked the vibe of it” and that the game “seemed like a less aggressive version of rugby.” Abby Cook, ‘22, a member of the Women’s Rugby Executive Board said she attended to “show solidarity with other sports teams.”
Judy Allen, the Assistant Director of Athletics at Wheaton, was also in attendance, and noted that the last game the Frisbee team had played was on Nov. 1, 2019 due to Covid causing the Spring sports season to be cancelled. Allen “remains hopeful” about the future of sports at Wheaton, noting “record-high turnouts” among sign-ups for club sports. The sheer size of WULF compared to BSU proved her point – with WULF having about 3x the number of players, 30 to just over 10.
The game began by BSU getting off to a quick 5-1 lead with fast, transitional game play among their players, categorized by many hucks (long throws) gaining yardage and points. A person on the WULF team even noted that BSU had thrown more hammers (a fast but slightly more risky overhead throw) than forehands (a standard disc throw) a few minutes into the game. The BSU team also played aggressively while on defense, poaching (intercepting) the disc a fair few times as WULF struggled to find its footing.
Wheaton had fared slightly better by the time the intermission was called, holding BSU to eight points, and scoring three themselves. Two of these points were scored by Max Van Osdol, ‘24, a handler (disc passer). Both teams appeared visibly tired at this point, though BSU was more so due to their number of players.
Both teams were well aware of this, with BSU team members kicking themselves as they missed early points that should have been scored. Neil Carr, a Criminal Law major and BSU team captain, noted that “a lot of athleticism” had been the cause of most of their early points and that proper “subbing… and endurance” would be the key to winning the game. WULF seemed to have a more relaxed playstyle overall, categorized by slow, methodical drives down the field and consistent dump-and-swing (a two-throw move where the disc is transferred from one side of the field to the other and then forward) plays.
For the rest of the game, WULF decided to change their strategy, switching their offense from a vertical stack pattern (a more standardized strategy where one player runs at a time) to a horizontal stack pattern (a more chaotic strategy where multiple players run at a time). They also decided to switch their defense from a mark defense (a strategy where each player is assigned a player on the other team that they defend) to a zone defense (a strategy where each player is assigned a portion of the field to guard). Wheaton executed these strategies quite well, and was able to score multiple points while holding BSU to only one point, which eventually culminated in tying the game up around the ten point mark.
WULF’s coach, Dan DiMascio, noted that the team just “needed to be patient” on offense and that BSU would “give [the disc] back everytime” when WULF was on defense, which was echoed by WULF’s calls of “chilly” (signalling to play slow) after the many times the disc was turned over. This worked very well for a while, and the defining point of the game seemed to be when WULF scored their 12th point, which was a drive in which the disc was turned over many times, but their momentum stopped after scoring that point. WULF made a few throws too quickly that ended up just out of reach of players in the end zone, which would later be described as “a few silly mistakes” by captain Jake Gammon.
This allowed BSU to score a few points in a row, and the game eventually ended with BSU winning fairly anticlimactically with a few open downfield drives. DiMascio concluded that WULF “adapted very well” to BSU’s playstyle and WULF’s excellent zone defense kept them competitive in the game. When asked to summarize how he felt about BSU winning the game, Carr simply responded by saying “tired.” WULF’s next event will be a tournament at Wellesley College in November.