Last weekend, we took 2 teams to the annual Loughborough Beginners Tournament.
One team consisted of: Matt, Zak, Chris, Adam, Lewis, Kit and Mike, with Robbie (me) and Joe as the experienced players. Here is how we got on.
Saturday – Group Games
Game 1: (Warwick) Bears v Jesters (Leicester) WIN
This was everyone’s first competitive game of ultimate and I was amazed by the intensity of play by both teams. Everyone was putting a lot of pressure on every pass and there were many blocks and interceptions from both sides. A solid win to start the weekend.
Game 2: Bears v BUF (Oxford Brookes) WIN
This team was well organised and had good long throws to their beginners, which meant we had to step up the level of our defence. We continued to get blocks like in the first game and played well with the disc, keeping for longer periods than them and the points came as a result.
Game 3: Bears v Haze (Loughborough) LOSS
The quality of the play from both teams was the best so far, with all the beginners starting to feel comfortable with the disc and making passes. This made for some very exciting moments from both sides and a game that was close right until the end.
Game 4: Bears v AirWolf (Wolverhampton) WIN
These guys had a small squad compared to us, and this had an impact on how the match played out. It was very close at the start, with the teams trading points, then we pulled away as we could keep up that high quality until the end.
Game 5: Bears v Tuxford LOSS
This school team had some of the best skills we saw all weekend, particularly chasing long passes and catching them in the endzone. They sometimes relied on their experienced player, which made Joe and I have to work hard, but the rest of their players made everyone else work hard too and they deserved the win.
We finished Saturday seeded 6th out of 24, a really strong position that we deserved after the performances during the day. Then had dinner, made our awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes and hit the party hard!
Sunday – Knockout Stage
Crossover 6v11: Bears v UBU (Birmingham) WIN
This game was close at the start, then we pulled away and they couldn’t contain us. What really helped us in this game were the connections within our team that we had built up on the first day and the result was our best performance so far. Some of the catches in the endzone were incredible and that inspired more great play. This win guaranteed that we would finish in the top 8!
Quarter-final 6v3: Bears v NTU (Nottingham Trent) LOSS
A completely different game to the previous one, they put a lot of pressure on us when we had the disc and made it hard for us to string lots of passes together. We did the same to them, getting blocks and more blocks, making it a tense game. They had several very good catches high in the air, which was one of the only that separated the teams in the end. They went on to the final, so the fact that we gave them a good game is awesome.
Semi-final 6v7: Bears v Demons (Leicester De Monfort) WIN
Our offence in this game was unstoppable, and our defence almost impenetrable – I think it ended 8-1 or something. They were a pretty good team, we were just more up for this game and stayed focused throughout. As is becoming a theme, we got blocks left, right and centre (and up and down and all around!) and that made them panic, which unfortunately (for them) caused a lot of turnovers when throwing into the endzone.
Final 6v5: Bears v ShamBulls (Nottingham Medical Campus) LOSS
What I remember most about this game is the epic 8-minute point in the middle and the tension when it went to sudden death at the end. However, there was also lots of high quality play that you expect when everyone is putting all their effort into the last match of the weekend. Both teams played very good defence (especially in the long point), which meant that we had to play good offence in order to score. They really pulled it together at the end to start connecting lots of passes and scoring the last 3 points to take the win.
So after all of that we finished 6th out of 24, which is amazing considering that some other universities have been back for 1 or 2 more weeks than us! Every player on Bears 1 improved so much across the weekend and had some incredible individual moments, but the way we worked as a whole team pulled it all together and also made it so much fun.
Thank you to all the guys who played, you were awesome!