Girls and Non-Binary Team Bring Home the NEPSUL Championship Title in Its First Season

Andover competed in the New England Prep School Ultimate League (NEPSUL) Championships in the All-Gender team and Girls and Non-Binary (GNB) Division. The All-Gender team fell in the first round against a tough Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH) team, however the GNB team brought home the championship title. 

Niki Tavakoli ’27, a member of the GNB team, highlighted the importance of winning the title in the first ever season of Andover participating in the GNB Division at the NEPSUL Championship.

“What’s pretty awesome is that Andover has actually had enough players for a girls’ non-binary team [this year]. So, it’s pretty incredible that we actually won the New England Prep School Championship in our first year of [competing in the GNB division]. It’s something we’re really proud of and we’re excited for next year. Hopefully we keep growing,” said Tavakoli. 

Tavakoli continued, commenting on the team’s strategy for its second tournament. The team worked on speed, especially in the offense to move the ball up the field.

“I would say that this was our second tournament, so the first thing was that our flow overall, just working together as a team was a lot better than our first tournament. We were just able to move the frisbee better, get to places quicker. Another couple of things that we’d been working on… [is] executing a play really quickly before their defense has time to set up and get a quick point off the jump,” said Tavakoli. 

Andover had played NMH twice during the season, losing 6-7 and 3-11. The team also held six NEPSUL Championship titles, the most recent one in 2018. Dean Yang ’27 commented on the first game of the All-Gender team against NMH, noting the challenges they faced against an athletically inclined team. 

Yang said, “First game, since it was single elimination, that was our only chance [to move on.] We went against NMH, who we’ve played two times before this season. They’ve beaten us both [times] but we [had] gotten pretty close to beating them, so we had hope that we could come out on top this time. They just outmatched us, and their players are very fast, and have a lot of game sense. They just outplayed us on that day.”

Although the tournament ended early for the All-Gender team, Fumi Kimura ’25 recalled Head Coach Scott Hoening’s advice, which was to focus on learning from the games. Kimura noted that the team emerged as better players from the tournament.

“Our coach always says, our goal is to improve, and feel like at the end of the game, we did our best. I think we really met that goal, and we came out stronger as a team: better chemistry, better strength, better knowledge of the game in general,” said Kimura. 

Yang differentiated two sets of players in ultimate: hammers, who usually move the disc downfield, and cutters, who are the players downfield receiving from the hammers. During the tournament, he noted the team’s overreliance on hammers and the timing of routes executed by cutters. 

“Our biggest weakness was definitely moving the disc downfield… A lot of the time, we were depending only on the hammers to be able to progress the disc forward. Sometimes that’s really inefficient and you only gain a few yards at a time. Being able to have the cutters being able to be in the right place at the right time will let us have a more effective offense,” said Yang. 

Kimura highlighted the high energy at the tournament, despite Andover’s loss. He praised Choate’s impressive sportsmanship and noted the balance between competitiveness and enthusiasm. 

“Choate was Choate. In addition to being really strong, they had really good spirit, great sportsmanship. We did this spirit circle at the end where we talked about highlights of our game and specific players we wanted to commend. At the end, we had an end-of-tournament ceremony. Everyone’s happy in general. It was a great bonding opportunity as well as being competitive,” said Kimura. 

After competing in the NEPSUL Championships, the All-Gender team took on Belmont High School, defeating them 10-8. Yang cited an improvement in disc movement from the NEPSUL tournament. 

“We did a lot better today, in terms of moving the disc. First of all, our passes were pretty consistent today; passes and catches were really being made. Also, we were focusing on what happens afterwards, so even before someone catches the disc, you’re already running towards where the disc might be next so they can throw it to you where you’ll be open. Being able to continue moving the disc without stopping for much allowed us to score a lot today,” said Yang. 

Andover will face off against Four Rivers Charter School this Saturday.