Preying Manti Set Out on the Road to Nationals

Nate Levinson, Sports Editor

The Oberlin Preying Manti placed second in the Wootown Throwdown tournament in Wooster, Ohio last weekend. The team won all four of their games on the first day of play and one out of their final three on the second, including a win against The College of Wooster in pool play.

The team defeated The College of Wooster, Ohio Western University and Denison University on Saturday  before they were taken down by the Division I University of Akron Golddiggers twice on Sunday.

The Manti’s captains admit that they were somewhat worried heading into the first tournament of the season, given the team’s issues during the week of practice leading up to it.

“I didn’t really know what to expect heading in because in practice the week before, we had been a little shaky,” said sophomore captain Ally Fulton.

The Manti implemented a new offensive strategy during practice that week, and it hadn’t caught on as they had hoped it would initially.

Fulton was pleasantly surprised by how well the new scheme worked in the game, however. “It looked way better than I ever thought it would,” she said.

The first tournament of the team’s season has always been a big learning experience for new players, and this one was no different.

“Watching rookies from Saturday morning until Sunday afternoon is like watching two months worth of practice condensed into two days,” Fulton said. Even veteran players were impressed at how they bettered their own game over the weekend.

“I know I improved. It was a really good way to start out my season,” said junior Rose Benjamin.

First-year player Sasha Lopez noted that she learned a lot in just the short weekend. A seasoned soccer player, this was Lopez’s first experience with organized Ultimate, and she liked what she saw.

“I played soccer my whole life, and the biggest difference was the spirit of the game. This was just so relaxing and more casual. People are so supportive,” said Lopez.

Rookies and veterans alike have been helped by the presence of the team’s coach, Donny Petarra. Petarra started coaching the team two years ago and now attends all of the women’s tournaments as well as one practice a week.

“He’s been a game changer, and he’s helped us strategize. He helped individuals work on what they needed to work on and has a lot of Frisbee knowledge,” said senior captain and Review staff member Rosie Black.

The team has ambitious goals this season, but knows anything is possible after making it to Nationals last season.

“[Last year] set the standard for what we can do this year,” Black said. “That’s a long way away,” she admitted. The team knows it has a lot of work to do to see its goals come to fruition.

“I feel like we’re still figuring out what to expect this season,” Benjamin said before noting that she was pleasantly surprised by the team’s success over the weekend.

One of the biggest obstacles for the team every year is replacing players that graduate, but putting together enough people to play has hardly been a problem this season. The Manti have over 30 players on their roster, despite only needing seven players on the field at a time. Still, there are benefits to watching veterans play, Lopez noted.

“It can be hard if you have to sub out so often, but having not played I get to watch all the returners play, and I learn so much from them,” said Lopez.

The team is off to an impressive start and will look to continue on the road back to Nationals in two weeks when they head to their second tournament in Columbus, Ohio.