The Black Tide rolled into San Diego this past weekend, where it won the UPA Regional Qualifier Tournament for the men’s club ultimate Frisbee team.
UCSB won all four matches played this weekend, highlighted by a 15-12 win over Colorado in the finals on Sunday. By winning its UPA Regional Qualifier Tournament, Santa Barbara secured a spot at the National Tournament in Boston this upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
“We’re really excited,” junior co-captain Nick Fiske said. “We’re definitely a very good team this year. I think everyone on the team is beginning to sense how good we are.”
For the most part, the Black Tide was able to cruise through the tournament and by its opponents. UCSB’s dominant play was especially evident in a 15-0 victory over the Colorado School of Mines in Saturday’s semi-final match.
“Everybody stepped up and did what they needed to do,” freshman Jerry Flanagan said. “We kept our intensity up. I think our 15-0 win sent a message to the other teams.”
On Sunday, Santa Barbara encountered much tougher competition when it faced the University of Colorado in the finals of the tournament. The Mamabirds’ one distinct advantage over the Black Tide was their leading scorer, who stood 6′ 9″ tall. UCSB’s tallest player is only 6′ 3″. Santa Barbara, however, played great team defense and focused on limiting the effectiveness of Colorado’s star player.
“We spent a lot of time trying to decide how to deal with [Colorado’s height],” senior Kevin Buchanan said. “Our top priority was to play great team defense.”
The Black Tide and Colorado played a back-and-forth match the whole day. UCSB held an 8-7 lead at halftime, but came out inspired in the second half and extended its lead to three at 14-11 with 13 minutes left in the game. The Mamabirds would score again to cut it to two, but could get no closer.
“It was the championship game,” Flanagan said. “All our big players played huge. We got it done.”
A big reason for Santa Barbara’s success at the tournament, and throughout its season, was the team’s superior conditioning. In preparation for the UPA National Tournament, the Black Tide will be working especially hard to get itself in even better physical shape.
“Our conditioning is our strength,” Buchanan said. “In a game against a tough team, we always have the energy to finish. We have that extra something that helps us sprint past the other team and do what we need to do.”
Another asset for Santa Barbara has been its ability to play as a team. Fiske believes team activities have helped the players to get mentally prepared for games.
“We hang out a lot together and go out to parties,” Fiske said. “It encourages team bonding and gets everybody to be friends, so when we go out to play, we want to give 100 percent for each other.”
Winning the UPA National Tournament was a goal UCSB set for itself early this season. Santa Barbara is confident in its ability to out-play its competition. The Black Tide will be the top seed when it arrives in Boston on Memorial Day weekend.
“It was a big relief to win the [UPA Qualifier Tournament],” Buchanan said. “We’re not finished though. It was one of our goals, but our biggest goal is to win the National Tournament.”