Kevin Key, Contributing Writer
University of Dallas Ultimate (UDU) was founded in 2009 by UD alumni Michael Falconer and Will Teller.
Since then, it has grown into the team that we know and love, representing our school at tournaments throughout Texas and neighboring states. This season was a crowning achievement for UDU and a great sendoff for five of UDU’s most influential players — seniors Matthew Melendez, Patrick Mangan, Joseph Beatty, Austin Walker and Christian Walker.
“I’m really proud of the progress this team has made since my freshman year,” said Mangan.
The UDU season ended in Tulsa, Okla. And these five seniors could not have asked for a greater finish to their college career. Although the team did not finish as well as it had hoped, the players were more than happy to take 5th place overall in the region. UDU competes in the DIII South Central region with the geographic scope of Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Eastern Mexico, and Texas. Christian Walker said that, “This [year’s performace] was the best.”
And indeed it was. This season was the best that UDU has ever played. To finish 5th at regionals is a great accomplishment for the team, and, on top of that, freshman Jack Teller was nominated Second Team All Conference and Freshman of the Year.
The first day of pool play determined seeds for the second day of the tournament. UDU went 4-1, only losing to the weekend’s champion, John Brown University. Two other important games of the day were against Trinity University and Missouri University of Science and Technology, which UDU won 12-8 and 9-6, respectively. The biggest game of the weekend, however, was against Rice University.
After routing Rice earlier in the season, 13-3, UD knew that the next time the two teams faced off, it would be an exceptionally tough game. With a 30-minute lightning delay and wind gusts upwards of 30 miles per hour, the game certainly was interesting. No team gained a clear lead until near the end of the second half when Rice began to pull ahead after multiple offensive turnovers on UD’s part. The ensuing loss took UD out of the championship run and out of its desired placement in the top three. However, even after such a disappointing loss, UD rebounded well and won its next two games, led by underclassmen Adam Brill, David Flynn and Kevin Key.
One of the main reasons that UDU was able to come so far this year was because of the way in which Michael Falconer and Will Teller founded the club and passed on its leadership to this year’s seniors. These five seniors led the team not only by their effort but also by their skill.
Melendez had never played ultimate until he came to UD, and this past season he was a starter and an integral part of both the team’s offense and its defense. Mangan was one of UD’s most consistent players and could always be trusted to make both the big and the simple plays. Mangan is especially known for his classic hammer throws.
Joseph Beatty has always been a reliable defensive player and deep look on offense. In particular, his height, an impressive 6’5”, contributes noticeably to his play style.
Austin Walker has long been UDU’s hidden power and driving force. The shorter Walker Bro has proved to be an experienced cutter and to have the keen ability to throw his body high into the air.
Christian Walker is without a doubt UDU’s greatest. He has led the team as a captain, friend, teammate and all-star. Even though he has struggled with injuries throughout the years, he has still been able to produce results on the field. Opponents and coaches have spoken of “C Walks’” incredible overall skills, and he has been nominated for First Team All-Conference.
Looking forward, the remaining players can only hope to continue to perform as they have learned to perform from these leaders, and to play “UD Ultimate” with the all the heart and skill that they hold.