The men’s Ultimate Frisbee team, the Richmond Spidermonkeys, defeated the country’s top-ranked Air Force Afterburn on its way to a 7-0 record in the FCS D-III Tune Up 2019 Tournament last weekend in Bermuda Run, North Carolina.
“We faced some of the highest level of competition we could face at nationals,” sophomore Hunter Lang said. “Everyone stepped up and played well.”
Michael Ball, Men’s Division III college editor for Ultiworld and tournament director, previewed the field of teams before the tournament. In the article, Ball wrote: “With four games on their schedule against teams who qualified for Nationals in 2018, including all three of their Sunday games, Richmond ended up with maybe the most challenging schedule at the tournament. By the end of the weekend, we’ll know just how much their early season development has paid off.”
The team’s undefeated performance suggests that development has paid off plenty.
“We took more of a developmental approach during the fall,” co-captain Pat Murray said. “Getting younger players more reps and development helps the team for years moving forward.”
This year, 15 of the 28 players on the team’s roster are first-year students, club president Graydon Cowan said.
The Spidermonkeys will host the DIII EastUR Tournament at Dorey Park in Richmond March 30-31.
Co-captain Chris Selwood said this would be UR’s third consecutive year hosting the tournament.
“It’s a pretty important tournament for determining nationals bids,” Selwood said. “It’s the last regular season tournament before sectionals, regionals and nationals.”
The Spidermonkeys hope to compete for the Division III College Championship in May, but they must first advance past the sectional and regional rounds. The team competes in the Northern Atlantic Coast Conference in the Atlantic Coast Region of Division III.
“The tournament last weekend was a good step in the process,” Cowan said. “It showed us where our ceiling can be as a team.”
According to USA Ultimate, 156 teams across the country compete in sectional conference tournaments, with 66 teams advancing to the regional rounds. From the regional rounds, 16 teams qualify for the national championship tournament.
The 2019 Division III College Championships will take place May 18-19, in Bryan College Station, Texas, according to USA Ultimate.
UR has qualified for the national tournament in four of the past five years.
The Spidermonkeys won the Division III USA Ultimate National Championship in 2017, defeating Davidson College 15-12 in the championship game.
Co-captain Ty Englert believes this year’s team has the talent to compete on a national level, but noted that the composition of the team differs from the championship-winning team of 2017.
“This team doesn’t have a singular star like we had that year,” Englert said. “We have a strong senior class and freshman class, but the depth of talent is more evenly spread.”
Junior Chris Cassella echoed Englert’s statements. He described the different dynamic of this team in comparison to the 2017 championship team.
“There isn’t someone who can carry us on their own,” Cassella said. “Everyone has to do their part.”
Contact senior sports writer CJ Slavin at firstname.lastname@example.org