How many of Swarthmore’s teams would find themselves in a round-robin pool with Northeastern and Southern California? That was the challenge facing the Swarthmore Warmothers Ultimate Frisbee team at the ninth annual Centex Tournament this past weekend.
Hosted by the University of Texas, Centex is one of the premiere spring college tournaments in the nation. For the Warmothers, it was the most prestigious event that the team has attended since the 2006 team qualified for Nationals.
When the latest collegiate Ultimate Frisbee rankings were released yesterday by USA Ultimate, the Swarthmore Warmothers found themselves ranked No. 66 out of the 227 teams in the country, Division I and III.
Consistently competing against some of the nation’s largest public research institutions, Swarthmore is currently ranked ahead of Oregon State (71), Duke (73), and Kansas (83) and sits just behind Maryland (60), Michigan State (61) and Boston College (64). That’s sure not bad athletic company.
Of Division III schools, the Warmothers are ranked No. 7 and they are the fifth-ranked team in the Ohio Valley Region.
“Considering how other small schools do, we have been doing disproportionately well,” senior Kara Stoever said.
The decision to attend Centex was the result of new USA Ultimate policy that will force the Warmothers to compete in Division III Conferences before, with a win, a date in the Division I Ohio Valley Regional. The Warmothers wanted the opportunity to compete with some of the nation’s best teams as preparation.
So, spearheaded by the efforts of Abigail Henderson ’14, Emily McAfee ’13, and Anna Levine ’12, the Warmothers held a fall fundraising campaign to cover the costs of the trip.
For the Saturday preliminaries, the women of Swarthmore were placed in a pool with Colorado College, Northeastern, and Southern California. The Warmothers fell to Northeastern in the tournament opener in an 11-10 heartbreaker, dropped their second to 13th place finisher Colorado College, and stayed with Southern California before winding up on the short end of a 13-10 final.
Playoffs were divided into two main brackets, one for teams that consistently compete at nationals and the other for teams, like the Warmothers, a tier below.
The team started bracket play with a dominating 11-6 win over South Florida on Saturday evening to advance into the main bracket on Sunday. Sunday morning began with a thrilling upset over Dartmouth by a 14-11 final moving the team into the quarterfinals of the draw where they fell to Claremont 12-9.
“The games that we won were the right games to win, so our tournament ranking went up,” said Maisie Wiltshire-Gordon ’13.
The team entered the tournament projected as the 15th seed in the Division II bracket. With their victories, they finished eight spots higher and tied for seventh.
Elena Kingston ’14 was encouraged by the team’s performance to break seed. “To finish as high as we did in Division II when were we were seeded so much lower than that was really exciting.”
The team will travel to Manheim, PA this weekend for the Keystone Classic where they will compete in a preliminary pool with Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, and Smith. Wisconsin is ranked No. 13, Pittsburgh No. 29, and Smith No. 60.
“I think that we learned a lot from last weekend because every game was a challenge,” said Wiltsire-Gordon. “That was a new thing for us with every game being difficult. Hopefully we’ve learned how to focus mentally for a string of really hard games.”
Added Kingston, “This past weekend gave us a lot of confidence. Even though we lost some of those games, we were able to contend in each and every one. We can play at the caliber of Division I teams even if we may be from a Division III school.”