The Shippensburg University men’s ultimate frisbee club came up just short of qualifying for the D-III National Championships Sunday, placing third out of 12 teams at the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament in Columbus, Ohio.
Only one berth to the D-III National Championships in Rockford, Illinois, was granted to the Ohio Valley Region for the 2018 season — and that berth would go to the tournament’s winner.
SU went 4-1 in pool play on Saturday, winning its quarterfinal matchup Sunday morning before falling in the semifinals to the club from Oberlin College.
“From the time we were eliminated at regionals last year, the goal for 2018 was nationals,” senior captain Zac Sands said. “We had a good season overall, but it’s really disappointing to not reach our long-term goal.”
The club won comfortably in pool play Saturday against Cedarville, Scranton, Grove City and Dickinson. The one pool play loss came at the hands of Xavier, by a single point.
SU’s quarterfinal matchup against Franciscan carried with it an extra motivation for the club. The club was eliminated by Franciscan in the semifinals at regionals just last year, and Franciscan had been the region’s lone representative at nationals for three consecutive years.
After falling behind early, SU came back to take an 8-7 halftime lead. An inspired second half defensive performance allowed the club to advance with a 15-11 win over its regional rival.
“It felt great to come back and get that huge win over Franciscan, especially because of last year’s devastating 16-14 loss to them in the semis,” senior captain Josh Walther said.
SU was sluggish to open their semifinal matchup with Oberlin, which may have cost them a spot in the finals. They fell behind 2-0 early, and despite staying within striking distance the whole game, eventually lost by a score of 15-11.
“Sometimes you give it all you’ve got, and it’s just not enough,” senior captain Jake Doyle said. “That’s just the way life works, though.”
Oberlin went on to defeat Haverford in the finals to advance to nationals.
The frisbee club will graduate four key seniors this spring — Walther, Sands, Spenser Strickler, and Micah Matechik. The club, however, is optimistic about the direction of the program.
“We believe that the foundation set up by the players we’re losing will allow us to grow as a team even without them here,” sophomore Jacob Sultanik said.
The club has a wealth of younger players who are ready to shoulder the load in future seasons.
“We have a lot of underclassmen who put in the time and work to make sure that we can be in an even better position next year,” sophomore Zack Hunsberger said.
SU’s ultimate frisbee club will use the summer to train individually before starting the fall 2018 season in September.