At this point in the season, Franciscan FATAL ultimate looks nearly indistinguishable from years past: heading to nationals.
At its three tournaments so far, FATAL has an 11-2 record, an eighth consecutive bid to the Ohio Valley Regional Championship and the momentum necessary to reach the USA Ultimate Division III College National Championship for the seventh time.
Having finished top 10 at last year’s nationals, the team hit the ground running on the backs of established starters like graduate student handler Mark Schuster, senior cutter John Paul Duerr and senior cutter Matthew Muldoon.
After the team lost several experienced offensive players over the offseason, the team’s younger players rose to the task and made an impression as well. Freshmen cutters Max Schmiesing and Luke Forrester, who were on the roster for the 2021 nationals in Norco, California, have become integral parts of FATAL’s process.
Schmiesing made the list of top scorers at a major weekend tournament at Denison University, Granville. Forrester has been an all-around threat, at various points being among the team’s leaders in points, assists and blocks.
Freshman cutter Anthony Camastro has also made a striking impact and is quickly becoming one of FATAL’s most formidable threats on defense.
The season’s start was delayed, first by COVID-19 and then by a snowstorm that moved opening day’s location from Columbus to Cleveland.
The change in schedule did not affect FATAL’s winning ways, and the team defeated all three of its opponents, most of whom play in the more competitive Division I.
Two weeks later, at the Denison tournament, FATAL went 5-1, defeating four Division I teams and regional rival Oberlin College before ultimately falling to Oberlin 13-10 in the tournament final.
The Ohio Conference tournament was during Holy Week, and the team won its first two games, ensuring a return to campus in time for the Easter Vigil.
FATAL defeated Ohio Wesleyan College 13-0 — one of only six shutout wins thus far in the USAU college season — before a comeback 13-9 victory over Wooster College.
Although FATAL would ultimately fall 13-9 to tournament host Oberlin, FATAL secured a bid to Regionals, which are to be held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, from April 30 to May 1.
If FATAL places in the top two at this tournament, the team will earn its seventh bid to the national tournament, scheduled for May 21-22 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.