The 16 members of the Harvard Ultimate Frisbee team opened their season Sunday with an away game against a Tufts squad that boasted more than 30 students. Tufts won, 24-23, on a goal scored with only 50 seconds remaining.
Tufts president, Jean Mayer, former master of Dudley House, was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first frisbee and lend support to his team.
Ultimate Frisbee is played on a 60-by-40-yard field, with seven players on each team. Players can't move with the frisbee, they must pass it downfield to a teammate. Goals are scored when one man catches a pass across the end line. If a pass is intercepted or touches the ground, the other team takes possession.
The game has 45 minute halves; thus a premium is placed on conditioning.
Sunday's game was characterized by generally sloppy playing interspersed with occasional bursts of precision execution. Harvard grabbed the lead early in the game and held on until the closing minutes, but could never widen its advantage by more than five goals. The difference in the end proved to be Tufts' superiority in numbers, with waves of fresh students wearing down the Harvard players' stamina.
Harvard team member Richard Anders viewed the large Tufts turnout as the reason his team didn't win easily. Teammate Bill Gostyle agreed, adding that, "They won because they eat better."
One of the frisbee team's major problems has been a lack of student participation. David Satloff, one leader of the Tufts contingent, said his school has the same problem, but not against Harvard. "We never had so many people. They come out of the woodwork for a big home game," he said Sunday night.
Tufts has a comparatively experienced team. They are already into their fifth year of Ultimate Frisbee. In contrast, Harvard captain Larry Wiseman said, "We started out at the beginning of last year with three people with experience in Ultimate, and no concept of the qualities needed to be good." By last spring, the team had a solid nucleus and managed to win its last three games.
The Ultimate Frisbee team receives no support from the Athletic Department. "It's apparent now that we are starting to be competitive with the top schools, teams that are taken seriously by their own school," Wiseman said. "I don't know if the Athletic Department is ready to accept us as a serious team."
The team travels to New Jersey this weekend, playing their Princeton counterparts Saturday morning before the football game.