Whits Finish Strong at D1 Ultimate Nationals

News Release Date:
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Following a rough start on day one of its first-ever trip to USA Ultimate's Division I national championships, the Whitman College Ultimate team won two of its last four games to finish a strong season on a positive note.

With the start of pool play on Friday, May 27, in Boulder, Colo., a fired-up Whitman faced fifth-seeded Harvard and ninth-seeded Carleton. The Sweets, seeded No. 16 at the tournament, battled against both powerhouse programs, but fell 15-9 to Harvard and 15-4 to Carleton, the eventual national champs.

Nathan Sany elevates vs. UBC

Unable to pull off any upsets, Whitman regrouped the next day in games against Cornell and the University of British Columbia (UBC).

Shaking off their opening day nerves, the Sweets snatched an early 8-5 lead against Cornell and carried that momentum into the second half. The 14-10 win over Cornell marked Whitman's first Division I nationals victory.

To finish pool play, Whitman squared off against UBC, the top seed in its pool, for a shot at the pre-quarterfinals.

After a feisty defense forced UBC to turn the disc over, Whitman converted those turnovers into two break points and an early 4-2 advantage. A late UBC surge, sparked by a string of fantastic layouts, left the Sweets on the short end of an 8-7 halftime score.

The second half was full of momentum shifts and constant lead changes. In the end, UBC defended its top seed and advanced to the pre-quarterfinals with a slim 15-13 victory. Whitman finished pool play holding seed and prepared for Illinois the following morning.

Whitman moved on to bracket play on Sunday with a chance to finish higher than its seeding by beating Illinois.

The game pitted a disciplined Illinois offense against a rabid Whitman defense. Illinois showed great patience at times, working the disc up the field despite constant pressure from the Sweets D, while Whitman's deep game showcased its speedy receivers making huge plays in the downwind endzone.

Spirited defense by both teams failed to make major dents in the opposition's offensive rhythm. Illinois, which held a two-point lead at halftime and through much of the second half, reached game point at 14-13.

But the Sweets staved off defeat, scoring to force the game into overtime.

Janin's game-winner vs. Illinois

After struggling all day to force Illinois turnovers, Whitman ratcheted up its defensive pressure to force a turnover at mid-field. Whitman then took advantage with a conservative march down the field that Jacob Janin capped by cutting hard to the front cone of the endzone for a 15-14 lead.

While celebrating one of the few break points they converted against Illinois, the Sweets knew the game was far from over.

Whitman refocused and prepared for another defensive stand and a shot at winning the game.

Cheered on by a large sideline contingent of alums, family and friends, Whitman's seven defenders thrived on the crowd energy and forced another Illinois turnover.

With possession and a shot at the win, the Sweets offense patiently worked the disc around the field and again found Janin streaking for the endzone.

The throw went up, the crowd held its breath, and Janin soared over two much taller Illinois defenders for the game-winning grab.

As Whitman fans rushed the field, the Sweets shook hands with their Illinois counterparts and cherished another national victory.

The win was important in large part because it allowed Whitman to break seed in its first appearance at the Division I national championships.

With its bench getting significant playing time, Whitman then finished the tournament with a spirited game against Virginia, falling 15-3.

For a look back at a national tournament preview article, please click here.

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CONTACT: Skip Molitor
Asst. Athletic Director, Club Sports
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-4970; molitore@whitman.edu