Over Memorial Day weekend, the Holliston High School Ultimate Frisbee team traveled to Greenfield for the Division 1 State Championship Tournament. The tournament invites the top 16 teams in the state to compete for the coveted
state championship. Holliston entered the Pool A of the tournament as a 13 seed.
The Panthers first game was Saturday morning at 9 a.m. at Greenfield High School versus Abington. The two teams had met during the first game of the regular season with Abington easily defeating Holliston 15-7.
Abington entered the tournament as an 8th seed and was a heavy favorite to beat Holliston. Under excellent playing conditions (partly sunny and calm), Holliston dropped the first point of the match, but quickly gathered momentum and ran out to a 6-2 lead with strong and consistent play across the field.
However, Abington reacted and outscored Holliston 6-1 during the next seven points to end the half with a 8-7 lead. Holliston opened the second half with possession and took advantage, tying the score at 8.
From there, the two teams traded points back and forth with each team exhibiting strong play. With the score deadlocked at 13, the hard cap horn blew. In UF, a hard cap means the next point will decide the game.
When the score is tied in this scenario, it is called "Universe Point." Abington pulled to Holliston and the Panthers began their march downfield. Playing a tight offensive game, Holliston could not afford any mistakes.
With all spectators standing, Junior Jensen Holder let go a toss to the right side of the endzone where senior Ben DeSnyder leapt and triumphantly came down with the winning point. He was mobbed by teammates as a dejected Abington team left the field. Holliston had pulled a significant upset to start the tournament.
The Panthers were brought back to earth in their second game against top-seeded Amherst Varsity. Amherst, knowing that Holliston had acquired a taste for the upset, started strong and never let up, quickly dispatching Holliston 15-1. The silver lining of the game was that many of the younger players were given the opportunity to play by Coach Levasseur and gain valuable tournament experience against a powerhouse team.
Game 3 of the tournament brought the Amherst Junior Varsity team as Holliston's opponent. Although considered a JV team, Amherst JV entered the tourney as a 12-seed. Amherst scored the first point of the match and Holliston reacted by tying it at 1-1. From there, the match was extremely closely played with only Holliston extending to one 2 point lead during the first half. Halftime was called with a score of 7-6, advantage Holliston.
The teams began the second half alternating points to a 10-10 tie. Amherst then extended a 11-10 lead when the hard cap horn sounded. Amherst was able to cap the scoring and end the match, winning 12-10. Although the Panthers had a 1-2 record in Pool A, they had broken seed and were guaranteed at least one more game in Day 1.
In the re-seed game, Holliston took on Easton, whom they had played earlier in the week in a regular season match-up. Easton was an easy winner in that match. Easton entered the tournament as a 5-seed and was a heavy favorite. A win for Holliston would mean they would move to the championship bracket on Sunday. Easton jumped to an early 8-2 lead at halftime, but Holliston was not done. Despite several injuries and many players being near total exhaustion, Holliston did not throw in the towel and fought back, narrowing the deficit to 9-6. Easton responded and once again extended their lead to 13-7.
Once again, the Panthers dug deep and closed the score to 13-11, as the hard cap approached. However, the local team did not have the stamina for one final run and Easton took the match 15-11. Despite the loss, the Holliston players showed strong spirit and a never-say-die attitude. With the loss, Holliston was qualified to play in the consolation bracket of the tournament on Sunday.
Sunday morning arrived with another long bus trip to western Massachusetts, this time to the beautiful facilities at Greenfield Community College. Their first match was the semi-final of the bracket turned into a rematch against Amherst JV. This game mirrored the previous match-up with extremely close play and the two squads trading points back and forth. Jensen Holder continued his strong play in the tournament, seemingly leaping to bring down any disc that was thrown in his vicinity. Holliston managed to open a small 8-5 lead at halftime.
maintained their lead in the second half, until Amherst JV made their run and closed the gap to 11-10 as the Holliston parents anticipated the hard cap horn. Holliston showed its Panther Pride and extended their margin to 12-10 as the horn finally blew, assuring a victory for Holliston. Final score Holliston 12, Amherst JV 11, sending Holliston to the bracket final against Newton North.
The bracket final was played on Sunday afternoon, under exquisite, sunny conditions on the truly green fields of Greenfield. Holliston had previously split the season series with Newton North 1-1, with each team winning on its opponents territory.
This game would decide who would finish 9th in the state overall. Holliston won the flip and chose to receive the disc first. Holliston was unsuccessful in their first possession and Newton North made them pay, quickly jumping into the lead. Newton North kept the pressure on during the first half, extending to an 8-3 lead at halftime. Holliston began to gain some momentum after closing the score to 9-5, but Newton North reacted, going on to win 15-6 as the hard cap horn blew.
The loss left Holliston with an impressive 10th place overall in the state tournament. After the final game, Captain Ben Hart noted that "We finished top ten in the state - a pretty good feeling."
Coach Levasseur commented: "I'm really impressed with how the team pulled together this weekend. We worked on everything that we'd been struggling with all season and came out on top. Beating Abington was a huge, huge plus for us. It was the best game we played all season. Our offense clicked and our defense was all over the other team. I'm really, really pleased and impressed with how they played. The team was a completely different team from eight weeks ago. Every single student on the team contributed, every athlete on the team. It was a really good weekend."
As Holliston High School's only Division 1 team, tenth in the state certainly does qualify as a great season. Congratulations to Holliston UF on an outstanding season.
Holliston UF is graduating 10 seniors for this year's squad: Captains Ben Hart and Ryan Mullens, CJ Duross, Alex Trotin, Marcus Rexach, Ben DeSnyder, Ryan Meltzer, Tom Waterman, Mike Reid, and Dan Norton. You will be missed! With this many seniors graduating, Holliston UF is looking for players interested in joining the 2013 squad. If you are interested or would like to learn more, please contact Coach Levasseur at firstname.lastname@example.org.