Ultimate Frisbee Adapts to New Strategies Despite Inexperience

Despite the temporary suspension of one of its games, Andover Ultimate Frisbee managed to clinch two wins over the weekend with a 9-5 win over Northfield Mount Hermon followed by a 12-6 win over Williston Northampton. However, the team faced their first loss of the season on Wednesday against Concorde Carlisle with a score of 15-9, bringing their record down 4-1.

According to Carlos Cepeda-Diaz ’23, the team was able to adapt to new strategies during their game that it had not seen before. As one of the new players on the team, he noted that Ultimate involves more strategy than he expected when he started playing the sport.

“[NMH and Williston] were the second and third games we played all season, and our team is relatively new to Ultimate because it’s still, I guess, a sport that’s growing and it’s a program that’s still growing at Andover… I thought that for a sport that has a lot more strategy than I think most new players like myself anticipated, it went really well, and it was about, I guess, adapting and learning a lot of new strategy on the fly since there’s a big aspect to Ultimate that’s just about play calling and responding to what the other team throws at you,” said Cepeda-Diaz.

Camaraderie off the field has allowed for stronger bonds and trust between players on the field, according to Serafina Shin-von Nordenflycht ’25. Shin-von Nordenflycht added that team hikes and bonding on bus rides have allowed team members to feel connected.

“One of the largest parts of Ultimate Frisbee is the spirit of the game, which is all about sportsmanship and knowing the rules, but also being a good teammate. I think definitely the coaches and also our captains have cultivated a space where we can just all be friends. We’ve gone on hikes and had Dunkin and we sing in the bus and stuff like that,” said Shin-von Nordenflycht.

Kei Obata ’23 concurred; he believes bonding off the field has been a key part of improved communication on the field and connections between players. 

“It’s definitely much easier to communicate and be on the same page with your teammates when you have a pre-established bond with one another. Whether it is the relationships we build through our tough practices, or the excitement that we have on our bus to the games, camaraderie has been an essential element of our success,” said Obata.

Despite its improvements on teamwork and trust, the team faced an unexpected challenge when playing NMH: a trap zone defense. Obata praised the team for being able to adjust to the challenge, which heavily affected the outcome of the game. 

“We stood out on our zone defense, and the opponents went cold after being pretty even around halftime, but our strategy set up by Coach [Scott] Hoenig and the commitment we put to our defensive alignment brought up the energy within the entire team. One aspect where we continue to strive to improve is our offensive alignment in the opponent’s end zone. Executing plays such as ‘Easy-O’ are harder to perfect without the balance provided by the more experienced players,” said Obata.

Alongside new challenges posed by a trap zone defense in their opponents, Shin-von Nordenflycht was pleasantly surprised to see the team bounce back after an unanticipated lightning disruption. Though she was unable to play due to an injury, she commended the team’s hard work and skill against NMH.

“On resilience, the game stopped halfway through or one of the games ended because of lightning… so [the team] really bounced back from that. And I think also they did a really good job of being on their toes, so they had to do different plays that they’d never learned before but also respond to defense,” said Shin-von Nordenflycht. 

Andover Ultimate Frisbee hopes to come back after its recent loss in its game on Wednesday against St. John’s Prep.