Even though the team is smaller than in previous years, sMITe, MIT’s Women’s Ultimate team, has set high expectations. The team is anchored by junior standout Michelle A. Rybak, who runs the offense with big huck throws and fast disc movement. Together with veteran players Alisha R. Schor G and Anna Katherine deRegt G, sMITe’s captains have driven the team to outperform previous years.
Although the team gained only three rookies while losing six veterans this year, sMITe took advantage of their roster to improve. Spending more of the season teaching new plays and reviewing drills instead of teaching old ones again, the team has surpassed many expectations in skill level and quality of play. Based on sMITe’s performance at spring break tournaments, this strategy seems to be working.
For the first weekend of spring break, sMITe traveled to Austin, Texas to play in Centex, the largest Women’s Ultimate tournament in the country. Centex hosts some of the best teams in the nation, including defending national champions USCB. After losing close games to UCSD and Rice, who both have the advantage of yearlong outdoor practices, MIT won against Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
However, the weekend wasn’t all just playing Ultimate. After playing, sMITe watched other teams in the annual Centex Dance-Off and had a barbecue with the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign team, a team coached by sMITe alumna and friend to sMITe coach Shuang You. For a touch of irony, MIT’s first game on Sunday was against UIUC. MIT won using long huck throws and impenetrable zone defense. Overall, sMITe placed seventh in division II.
Next, sMITe traveled to the Stonehill tournament, Get Skyyd. After sluggish play in the first game, with MIT winning 11-8 against New Hampshire, MIT bowled over the competition, winning most games by at least 10 points, including a 15-0 victory over UMass. In the finals, MIT played against Stonehill. MIT was down by four at the half, but they were able to take advantage of gaps in Stonehill’s loose zone defense and almost made a comeback, losing 13-15.
At the last tournament, Casual Huck, at the University of New Hampshire, MIT dominated the competition, winning all five qualifying games by at least six points. In the finals, MIT faced fellow conference team, Boston University. For the first half, BU and MIT traded points, but MIT was able to make two breaks, eventually winning 10-7.
Despite being one of the smaller teams at Centex and playing the last two tournaments with only 10 women with some injuries, MIT’s victories brought its ranking to 59 out of 182 teams in the US and Canada. This weekend, sMITe will travel to Tufts to play in the Boston Metro Conferences, where they will play for a place at the regional competition that will be held later this month.