For the first time in program history, the Fighting Gobies advanced to the Division I College Ultimate Championships, held on Memorial Day weekend in Raleigh, NC. The team’s debut on the national stage did not quite go as planned as they failed to win a game, going 0-5 in the competition.
The Gobies were in a tough group as they faced both the defending National Champion North Carolina Darkside and the 2015 runner-up Oregon Ego. They started strong against Ego in their first-ever Nationals game, taking an 8-5 lead into halftime following a 3-0 run. The Gobies were definitely feeling the upset when they were two points away from victory, leading 12-10. Oregon won the next four points to take the game from the Gobies as the team from Case Western Reserve University showed their lack of experience down the stretch.
Following a long layoff, the Gobies faced Mamabird from Colorado University Boulder. Although CWRU never led in the game, the outcome was never certain. The first time the Gobies trailed by more than two points the score was 12-9. However, they could never close the gap late in the game, and Mamabird won 15-11.
Starting the second day similar to the first, the Gobies held a surprising halftime lead against a much higher seeded opponent, this time up 8-7 on the defending champions from North Carolina. Darkside took a slim 10-9 lead, but after CWRU tied it, the teams traded points. The Gobies were two points from victory when they took a 14-13 lead, and on the ensuing possession second-year student Jordan Liff came up with a huge stop to deny Darkside from scoring. After a CWRU turnover, North Carolina tied the game at 14; then the teams traded points one final time. The Gobies were stopped from scoring the winning point on a great defensive play, and Darkside pulled out the victory on the next possession.
In their final game of pool play, the Gobies faced the also-winless Florida State Demented Ultimate Freaks (DUF). After halftime, CWRU was down 10-5, but didn’t give up the game, fighting back to bring the score within two. DUF were too much, however, going on a 3-1 run to finish off the Gobies with the final score reading 15-11.
Though eliminated from the tournament by finishing fifth in their pool, the Fighting Gobies played in a consolation game on day three against the University of Connecticut Grind. The Gobies held an 8-6 lead at the half, looking to finally secure a win at Nationals. However, plenty of CWRU turnovers helped to fuel a 6-1 run for the Grind, putting them up 12-10. The Gobies tied the game at 14, again placing themselves in position to win, but Connecticut scored the next two points to secure the victory.
A few CWRU athletes shined during the tournament. Graduate student Joseph Marmerstein, who was seemingly part of every Gobies point, finished tied for tenth in assists with 18 throughout the competition. Fourth-year student Tarik Akyuz racked up 16 goals through the team’s five games, finishing eighth overall in goals scored during the competition.
With only a few key players leaving next year, the Fighting Gobies will look to make a return to Nationals in 2017 and win their first game in program history on the national stage.