Franciscan FATAL wins region, advances to nationals for sixth time

Leo Schafer
Staff Writer

With a 9-6 victory over Oberlin College Sunday, Nov.14, the Franciscan University of Steubenville FATAL Ultimate team capped off its weekend with a regional title.

This win punched the FATAL team’s ticket to the USA Ultimate (USAU) Men’s Division III College Championship Tournament, to be held in December in Norco, Califorinia.

After nearly two years of cancelled seasons, the FATAL players picked up where they left off. At Kenyon College in September, the team swept an unofficial tournament — which it called a “learnament” — winning all six of their games.

A month later, the official USAU season began with the Ohio Conference championships held at the Kilbourne Run Sports Park in Columbus.

Seven teams from all corners of Ohio competed, including FATAL. FATAL had two close losses early in the tournament to area rivals Kenyon College and Oberlin College. This meant it had to win its final two games Oct. 23 to be guaranteed one of the four spots that the Ohio region sends to the regional tournament.

The team met the challenge, defeating Cedarville University by a score of 12-6 and, as rain began to fall, FATAL faced its final obstacle: the College of Wooster. FATAL shut down its offense, winning by a score of 12-6, and outscoring the competition 8-2 after the downpour began.

After securing their advancement, the team underwent a month of intense training, which consisted of almost nightly practices and lots of bananas. Senior Johnathan Greiner, quoting former Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Munenori Kawasaki, said, “Monkeys never cramp.”

The USAU Ohio Valley Regional Championships were held Nov. 13-14 at the Spindler Sports Complex in Hilliard, Ohio, featuring teams from USAU’s Ohio, Eastern Pennsylvania and Western Pennsylvania conferences.

FATAL was joined at the tournament by teams from Oberlin College, Kenyon College, Grove City College, Xavier University, Cedarville University, Messiah University and Swarthmore College.

The first day of the tournament saw No. 3 seed FATAL defeat eighth-ranked Swarthmore 15-5, sixth-ranked Cedarville 15-6 and No. 1 seed Oberlin by a score of 12-10. This put FATAL on top of its division and sent the players to the championship bracket to play Grove City College, whom they defeated in the waning daylight 15-5.

The first game on Nov. 14 was at 10 a.m. and was played in changeable conditions, with snowfall throughout the game. FATAL played Oberlin College for the third time in their season matchup, vying for advancement to the National Tournament.

The game was tight early on, but as the weather took a turn for the worse, FATAL pulled ahead of its competition. It won the weather-shortened game by a score of 9-6, sealing the regional title and continuing FATAL’s regional dominance.

FATAL has won six of the seven regional titles since their founding in 2013. FATAL will be joined at Nationals by Kenyon SERF, who defeated Oberlin College in the second-place match, also by a score of 9-6.

The USAU National Tournament will be held in Norco, California, at the Silver Lake Sports Park from Dec. 17-20.

Franciscan FATAL can be found on Instagram @fatalultimate, Twitter @FranciscanFATAL, and Facebook @Franciscan Fatal Ultimate.