Tuesday, August 05, 2014
AMHERST — On a day when wind speeds were high and temperatures were low, the 23rd annual Amherst Ultimate Invitational ended with a 15-2 blowout victory from the Amherst Regional girls team.
The win over Lower Merion in the finals marked the sixth straight championship for the Hurricanes. It was coach Josh Nugent’s fifth straight.
“It changes every year, but it’s always exciting to win,” Nugent said. “It’s great to have friends and family watching and cheering for us at our home field, and the boys team was on the sides cheering us on too. It just helps make this such a fun day.”
In this year’s invitational, 30 teams from all over the country came for a chance to claim first place. Teams came from such places as Washington, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
When asked what the team did so well to earn the victory on Sunday, Nugent said that the girls performed well against the wind and played good defense.
“The whole team I thought did a nice job on defense today,” Nugent said. “Our offense upwind was good today too. I think we had one goal that wasn’t upwind for us.”
Nugent said it was a team effort.
“We had a very balanced team effort today on offense and defense,” he said. “Individually though, Tulsa Douglas, who’s a captain for this team, did a nice job working with the wind. She made some nice plays throwing upwind.”
Despite a sixth straight title, Nugent said his team can get better. He said his coaching philosophy keeps the team more geared toward improvement instead of game results.
“I don’t really focus on the results of these games,” Nugent said. “I like to focus the team on improvement. We keep winning this tournament, and that’s great, but we can always get better. This is such a fun sport, and I just want to help the team to keep improving.”
Amherst boys seventh
After winning the invitational last year, the young Amherst boys team couldn’t keep up this year. The Hurricanes finished seventh following a 15-3 victory over the Amherst junior varsity team. Pennsbury High School of Pennsylvania beat Lexington 15-8 for the title.
First-year Amherst coach Joe Costello said that despite not winning the invitational, he was still happy to be a part of the event.
“The experience is just incredible,” he said. “Being the varsity coach now is a lot more work, but it’s the best work. This tournament is the best tournament in the country for high school. This community really cares about this tournament and it shows.”
Costello admired the effort his players gave throughout the weekend. He said that his captains were huge contributors to the team, which features 14 first-year varsity players.
“We showed a lot of character throughout the weekend, really grinding out points,” he said. “My captains Leland Rage-Colt and Solomon McMahan played a lot on offense and defense. They really helped to stabilize a really young team. They are really experienced and also very athletic. When you have a young team though, everyone needs to step up, which they all did this weekend.”
Costello said a lack of games due to poor weather has contributing to the teams slow progression.
“This season has been interesting in New England because of the weather,” he said. “We are still ironing out details, so we’re not full stride yet. For us, we haven’t seen a lot of these (teams). We’ve had practice time, but we are still ironing out details. We’re not at full stride yet.”