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Ultimate looks to nationals

By Josh Rutenberg     3/6/12 6:00pm

The women's ultimate team scored a victory over Missouri State at the 25th Mardi Gras Tournament on Feb. 19 in Saint Francisville, La. Tomorrow, the team will have its sights set on the Music City Mash Up tournament in Nashville, Tenn and nationals in the near future.

"Our goal going into the tournament wasn't to win," Captain Edith Teng said. "We wanted to get our people as much play time as possible."

Teng said the first day of the tournament the team played two points before the match rained out, but the team went on to beat the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Georgia State University and Indiana University, and Missouri State University to take the title. Teng said the victory had added significance, as Rice lost to Missouri State the previous year with a score of 13-7.

The Music City Mash Up will be a challenge for the team, as the opponents will be tougher those the team has faced in previous tournaments this year. Rice plays in the tier-one division, the most competitive division, and is currently seeded last place in the division, along with The University of Texas at Austin. Michigan, Iowa State, Iowa, North Carolina Wilmington, Ottawa and Wisconsin round out the rest of the tier-one teams.

"This will be one of the most competitive tournaments we play in," Teng, a Hanszen senior, said. "All the teams finished in the top-10 last year."

Captain Fran Chen agreed.

"[Music City Mash Up] is really exciting because out of all the tournaments, including nationals, we get to play some of the best teams in the country at this one," Chen, a Wiess junior, said.

To get to nationals, the team must first perform well in the conference championship and advance to regionals. Rice will host the conference championship this year on April 21-22, which will include all Texas women's ultimate teams, including UT-Austin, Texas A&M and Texas State.

"It will give us a chance to play against Texas and Texas A&M, which have been among the top teams in our section," Chen said of the conference championship.

Rice must place in the top five to advance to regionals in Fort Collins, Colo., the following weekend. If the team places in the top two at regionals, they will get the opportunity to compete for the national title in Boulder, Colo., on May 25-28.

The Rice Women's Ultimate team is a club sport consisting of 20 students and three coaches. Ultimate is played seven on seven, with the object of the game being to catch a pass in the opponent's end zone, similar to football. Movement on the field is continuous passing to move the disc down the field, much like the flow of a soccer match. According to Teng, the last time Rice made it to nationals was in the early 2000s, and the team managed to score just one point.

"It's awesome to see how fast everyone can learn, especially for most of the freshman who have no experience at the beginning of the year," Chen said.

If the team keeps playing at the level they did in their last tournament, they may get another chance at nationals, this time with more than one point.

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