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Eagle’s Ultimate Prepares for Playoffs After Last Regular Season Tournament

Oklahoma Christian University Eagle’s ultimate frisbee has finished another regular season with a top 10 finish in Division III. 

Normally, during Texas’ premier college ultimate tournament, Centex, the dry heat picks up and slowly cooks the turf. This year, however, the weather was dark and stormy, featuring clouds and constant rain. Games were delayed for lighting, not heat warnings. And this is where the Eagles ultimate team faced some of their toughest competition all year.

In addition to weather conditions, the Eagles were seeded ninth, forcing them to play a cross-over game to determine the preliminary pool they would play in. A slow start early in the morning would lead to a rough game later with Michigan State University, losing 8-12. Sophomore captain Ryan Loui-Ying spoke on what led to the loss.

“The biggest factor, which has been a recurring issue for us, is starting slow,” Loui-Ying said. “We don’t get into the right headspace properly in that first morning game, which is something we need to figure out.”

Right after head coach Garrett Taylor finished a quick inspirational speech to get the team fired up again, the first delay came. The Eagles returned to their airbnb to discuss the new gameplan before some team meetings began.

“Everyone stayed in a good headspace,” Loui-Ying said. “Even though it was a really long break between games, which isn’t usual for us, it kind of felt like there was no break at all. We got into that second game and just went straight at it.”

After a six hour break, the preliminary pool play began. But first, the Eagles had to drive to the University of Texas Austin’s intramural fields, where they would take on Tulane University and Colorado State University. 

Trying to avoid the mistake of starting out too slow, the Eagles came out firing on all cylinders, taking the first half of both games by scores of 7-4 and 7-5 respectively. In the end, the Eagles beat Tulane 11-10 and Colorado State 12-9. 

Junior captain Sammy Roberts and head coach Garrett Taylor mentioned some Eagles who stepped up and showed out for the school.

“TJ has been stepping up into a bigger role on both defense and offense,” Roberts said. “Couper has had some sick blocks, Ryan is stepping it up as always and Nathan Hunt has been a great edition.”

“TJ has been ballin out, playing extremely well,” Taylor said. “He was a crucial player in our win against Colorado State, helping us score two pivotal breaks in a row.”

After another break, the teams headed to Round Rock for the final rounds of pool play. Being first in their pool with a chance to play in the semifinals, the Eagles defense went to work, putting up four straight scores to start the game against Mizzou. The game ended with the Eagles up 8-5 due to a second lightning delay, causing the team to advance to the semifinals for the first time at this tournament. 

Sunday morning saw the bracket play against the University of Illinois. Despite the late Saturday highs, the Eagles failed to come out with the same kind of energy, losing 9-12 after going down 0-3 in the first three points.

“It was a good wakeup call,” Loui-Ying said. “We need to get better at coming out of the gates firing.”

The loss set them up for a 3rd place showdown against Texas A&M. But as the two teams flipped for possession, the third and final lightning cancellation occurred. With a six and a half hour drive ahead of them, the Eagles accepted a tie for third and began the long drive home. 

With the regular season finished, Eagle’s ultimate is now set for the playoffs. Taylor spoke on improving and preparing for the series.

“Sectionals is our ramp-up tournament before heading into regionals,” Taylor said. “We’re really trying to clean up some last minute things before we get into the championship series. So the goal is to work hard, work on the little things and win games.

“Last year, we lost focus and struggled respecting our opponents,” Taylor said. “This game also comes down to working hard. But I think we’ve got a little bit more fire this year, a little bit more intensity. And that should translate on the field.”

The Eagle’s next tournament is the Ozarks conference championship in Kansas City, Missouri, on April 13-14.

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