The University of Dallas women’s ultimate frisbee team, UDU Vitality, participated in their first ever regional tournament this past weekend in Houston, Texas. After making a midnight escape from UD, which involved 15 girls hopping on a charter bus for a five-hour drive after Spring Formal, the team, ready to play, rolled into Rice University as the sun was rising on Saturday.
Joined by other Division III schools from the south central region of the country, UDU faced a slate of tough opponents, many of whom have had success on the national stage in previous seasons. In their opening games on Saturday and Sunday respectively, UDU faced off against the defending national champion, Rice, and last year’s third place finisher at nationals, Truman State University. These games were their toughest challenges of the weekend, and despite standout performances from seniors Anne Johnson and Keelin des Rosiers, they were not able to pull off the victories.
Despite these setbacks, senior captain Olivia Close and junior captain Madeline Oi were able to keep morale high and lead the team to much closer games against John Brown and cross-state rival Trinity University in the blistering heat of Saturday afternoon. A deep game opened up, mainly by pristine throwing from seniors Sarah English and Kate Gapp and ankle-breaking cutting from seniors Grace Smart and Clare O’Donnell. UDU Vitality more than doubled their point totals in these games from their losses to Rice and Truman State. But fatigue and the loss of key cutter Christine Craig to an Achilles tendon injury proved too much for them, and they lost these as well.
A low finish was expected for the team, given that this was UDU’s first season attending the prestigious regional tournament. But, in spite of their losses, not only did UDU manage to break seed and exceed expectations, they did so convincingly — with two huge blowout wins over Hendrix College on Saturday and Sunday (with scores of 13-1 and 15-2, respectively) and an emphatic rematch victory on Sunday over Trinity to nab fourth place overall. Of particular note in these games were the performances of freshmen Aspen Daniels and Virginia Misko. In the final game against Trinity, both players had several layouts (i.e. dives) that helped rally the team from down 5-7 at halftime to come back and score six unanswered points, finishing with an 11-7 victory to end the tournament.
For the final point of the game against Trinity, UDU played a senior-only line.
“It was really exciting to end the tournament with all the seniors on the field, but it was also really sad because this was our last time playing together,” said English.
Des Rosiers commented as well.
“It’s sad to leave, but it’s okay because the team is in good hands with [returning captain] Maddie [Oi] and all the other returning players,” des Rosiers said.
Overall, the weekend was a huge success. For the seniors on the team, several of whom have been playing for the women’s team since its founding in 2014, the tournament was a great way to end their ultimate careers at UD.