Carleton College - 2011 College Open Champions

Posted: May 31, 2011 11:30 AM


Carleton College (O)   Wisconsin
Carleton College

Carleton College and Wisconsin are opponents in college ultimate’s biggest rivalry, so when each qualified for the College Championships final, everyone expected something epic. What they didn’t foresee was that it would be the weather, and not the rivalry, would make this game one for the ages.

"Where do you begin?" asked Carleton coach Phil Bowen after the game. A good place to start is with the 45 mile per hour winds that made running a structured offense virtually impossible. In fact, it also made holding down signs, inflatables, and tent covers a tough job, as some of each blew away before the game even started.

"These are the just about the wildest conditions we’ve ever played in," said Will Deaver, USA Ultimate’s Managing Director for Competition and Athlete Programs. "The only thing close is the 2001 Club Open final between the Condors and Jam, where the Condors got the only break of the game on the last point. That wind was bad enough to make us change the orientation of the fields in Sarasota."

2011 DI College D4F Roeder (15)
PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Roeder []

Like that final, this one was short on upwind breaks. The difference is that in this one, Carleton got one on the first point of the game. After a Ben Feldman huck sailed over the intended Wisconsin receiver and rolled out of bounds, Carleton’s Simon Montague picked the disc up at the cone and launched it halfway down the field. After another huck, CUT was on the upwind endzone line; a very short dump throw and a swing later, it was 1-0, Carleton. With the wind as strong as it was, Carleton easily completed its break on the next point, scoring the downwinder on a phenomenal Ian Hollyer layout to go up, 2-0.

The next point had over 40 turnovers. You read that right: 40. Midway through the point, scorekeepers said that there were 30 between both teams. It was hard to keep track after that, but Wisconsin eventually scored to make it 2-1.

The wind forced both teams to alter their respective strategies. Both Carleton and Wisconsin played for field position, choosing to huck and play defense rather than attempt to work the disc down the field under such windy conditions.

This was a significant departure from the past for CUT, a team that in similar situations has attempted to stick to its signature style of possession-oriented offense that relies on speedy cutters to get open under and keep the disc moving rapidly. Phil Bowen noted that the wind at today’s final was very similar to that at Centex in 2010.

"All of Centex a year ago was like this," said Bowen. "We got destroyed when we refused to play field position. We like structure: dump, swing, in cut, goal. So to turn it deliberately is counter to everything we can think of."

Bowen went on to say that those losses, combined with Carleton’s loss to Iowa in similar wind at North Central Regionals, made the team understand that sometimes it needed to change its game plan.

"Before the game, Simon [Montague] came up to me and said that we needed to embrace the ludicrousness of the situation," said Bowen. "Yeah, it was windy, but we needed to celebrate the moment and recognize that it was our last chance to be together as a team. That sums up the attitude that kept us in the game today."

After trading points to 5-4, CUT rattled off three in a row to take half, 8-4. If Carleton was okay with hucking more often than usual, Wisconsin was downright happy with it. The Hodags’ only turnover-free point of the game came as the soft cap went on at 9-5.

From there, it was all but over. Carleton held going downwind to make it 10-5, and on the next point, a Grant Lindsley huck that put CUT just outside of the endzone was followed up by a Justin Norden cut to the cone. When Norden reeled in the throw, Carleton was the 2011 Open champion.

The first Carleton-Wisconsin final was, to say the least, one to remember. "No matter who played in this game, it was going to be legendary," said Bowen. "For it to be CUT-Wisconsin, that’s out of control. It adds a ton to our rivalry."

2011 DICollege Logo cropped

Final Standings:

1 - Carleton College
2 - Wisconsin
3T - Colorado
3T - Iowa
5T - Harvard
5T - Oregon
5T - Pittsburgh
5T - Stanford
9 - British Columbia
10 - Tufts
11 - Washington
12 - Luther
13T - Texas
13T - Virginia
15T - Cornell
15T - Whitman
17 - Illinois
18T - Calfornia-Santa Cruz
18T - Colorado College
20 - Florida

Full results



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