LU Ultimate triumphs in first match of 2023

Senior Alan Schlessinger passes the frisbee to a teammate while an Oshkosh team member tries to block his pass. Photo by Adam Fleischer.

The Lawrence Ultimate Frisbee Team, a club self-dubbed the “Viking Bunnies,” traveled to Oshkosh on Sunday evening to take on UW-Oshkosh in an off-season friendly match. It was the first meeting between the two clubs since Lawrence’s co-ed frisbee team was established, and it turned out to be a very competitive matchup. The game was structured in a standard 7v7 format – however, instead of the normal game total of 15 (the number of points needed to win the game) the game total was 10 due to time constraints and a field that was much larger than regulation. This placed more importance on each point scored and higher consequences in turning the disc over. Taking care of the disc and making sure to keep the gameplay moving would be a key to victory for both teams. 

Oshkosh jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, utilizing their height and athleticism to beat Lawrence defenders downfield on long throws and easy dumps into the in-zone. The Lawrence defense was quite disoriented at first – Oshkosh ran an offensive formation called a “vert stack offense” which was unfamiliar to many of the 17 Viking Bunnies participating. For some this was their first term and/or game of ultimate, and with the last matchups the Viking Bunnies played being months ago, competition-level 7v7 gameplay was rusty for most.  

Oshkosh was able to close the first half of the game with a healthy lead of 5-2, but in the second half Lawrence was able to close the lead on a late-game run thanks to some spectacular disc movement among the handlers. Spearheaded by captains Nick Hull and A.J. Pahs, this excellent disc movement allowed Lawrence to keep the play alive and break the Oshkosh press, which in turn enables easy movement downfield. This, along with stellar efforts on defense from athletes such as John Painter and Henry Hale, allowed the Viking Bunnies to tie the game at 9-9 in a deathmatch scenario. Lawrence was able to get another defensive stop and win the game on a beautiful forehand assist from Hull. The disc arced out of bounds before curving back and finding a skyward- leaping Lawrence player in the endzone, ending the game at a score of 10-9. 

This victory seemed to sit well with the leaders of the team. “I was really, really proud of the team’s performance on Sunday,” said Hull. “We had been practicing twice a week leading up to this game, but the gym doesn’t have space for 7-on-7 – so there were a lot of new variables to be wary of going into the match… but we were able to find our flow, match up well, move the disc around, and rally to 10 points.” 

This new relationship with the UW-Oshkosh frisbee team also plays into the future aspirations of LU Ultimate. At matches, the captains have been very diplomatic with other collegiate frisbee teams at UW-Green Bay, UW-Stevens Point, and St. Norbert College. “Now that we have the contact info for all of these teams, along with [UW] Oshkosh, we were thinking about starting a local spring league for these colleges, which would be super exciting,” said Hull. “Lots of games, lots of tournaments.”  

Hull stressed to me that anyone seeking to have a good time engaging in sport in welcome to join, regardless of skill level. “Much of the turnaround every year is people who have never played frisbee before,” says Hull, “and as such, the environment is super welcoming, friendly, and positive.” There is a spirit of collaboration present between all the team members despite the varying skill levels or experience, that keeps people coming back. 

For the remainder of Winter Term, practice will be held in the Wellness Center on Thursday & Saturday from 7:30-9:00pm. Anyone is free to join and attend as much as they like.