Despite overcoming a slow start and mounting an impressive seven point comeback in its first game of the season, Andover Ultimate fell just four points short of edging out Newton North. For the young team, however, the close 10-14 game reflected the team’s rapid improvement and pinpointed weaknesses for future progression. “We weren’t quite sure what we should do, what we wanted to do,” said Co-Captain Alec Tolentino ’14. “There was a lot of space on the field, but as the game went on, our returners and kids who had played ultimate before really stepped up and showed the new kids how to play.” Andover’s first opponent every season for the past 10 years, Newton North quickly surged ahead 9-2 as Andover struggled to find its rhythm. “I love to have [Newton North] as our first game because they are almost always a quality opponent,” said Coach Scott Hoenig. “They made us pay for our mistakes today; we make a mistake, we give them the disc, and they don’t give it back easily.” With only six returners, the inexperienced team became an additional challenge that Andover had to overcome. On the field, many of the players had to perform under pressure for the first time, and Andover struggled to finish points. “In practice you can only learn so many things, so it was really different to see an actual game and experience the Ultimate culture,” said Jessica Vocaturo ’13, new to Andover Ultimate. However, under the guidance of the returning players, the new players proved their ability to adapt, and Andover closed the gap to 11-9. “Everyone learned from each other and learned from watching, so we were able to switch a lot of people in,” said Tolentino. As the team gained momentum, Andover integrated more strategic plays into the game and built a strong defense against Newton North. “[The new players] became a lot more comfortable, and they learned about the type of zone offense that the other team was playing,” said Cam Morose ’13. “We learned how to play against [the zone offense], and I think that’s why we were able to come back.” Cameron added, “[The team] taught me strategic vocabulary which really helped, like ‘poppers,’ which is when you stay in the middle against zones, and I learned how to really play ultimate.” Despite the loss, Andover views the game as invaluable experience. “We’re never too focused on the outcome of a game, but especially today, this is about learning and seeing what we need to work on,” said Hoenig. “We need to work on our throws,” said Co-Captain Piper Curtis ’13. “We still need to work on our offense to be able to score.” The team remains optimistic and hopes to show improvement in its next two matches against NMH and Hotchkiss this Saturday.