State ultimate: Northampton girls capture state championship with win over Newton North

The Northampton girls varsity ultimate program celebrating with the first-place disc after defeating Newton North, 9-7, in the title match during the Massachusetts State Championships on Sunday at the Oxbow Marina in Northampton.

The Northampton girls varsity ultimate program celebrating with the first-place disc after defeating Newton North, 9-7, in the title match during the Massachusetts State Championships on Sunday at the Oxbow Marina in Northampton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Throughout the season, the Northampton girls ultimate program’s slogan has been “We’re on a ramp.” Following the Blue Devils’ 9-7 win over Newton North in the title match during the Massachusetts State Championships on Sunday at Oxbow Marina in Northampton, they posed for a picture in the shape of a ramp to pay homage to their team phrase.

Throughout the season, the Northampton girls ultimate program’s slogan has been “We’re on a ramp.” Following the Blue Devils’ 9-7 win over Newton North in the title match during the Massachusetts State Championships on Sunday at Oxbow Marina in Northampton, they posed for a picture in the shape of a ramp to pay homage to their team phrase. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-28-2024 3:02 PM

NORTHAMPTON — What started out as a magical season has turned into one of pure dominance for the Northampton girls varsity ultimate team.

Just three weeks ago, the Blue Devils beat Newton North 10-8 to win the Amherst Invitational – the longest annual ultimate tournament in the United States – for the first time in program history, which automatically punched their ticket to the national tournament. Targets were then on their backs as they put themselves on the map.

And on Sunday during the Massachusetts State Championships at the Oxbow Marina, Northampton repeated recent history.

The team faced Newton North for the state crown, and once again won, 9-7, to turn in yet another first-place finish at a major tournament. The team’s motto throughout the past several seasons has been, “We’re on a ramp,” to symbolize its growth and improvement each year. With another two-day stretch of supremacy, the Blue Devils have reached the top of that ramp.

The first-place golden disc trophy that was brought to Northampton never left town, as the hosts won their second state title in the past decade to continue one of its best campaigns in program history.

“After finishing third in the state two years ago and second last year, this was the natural next step up the ramp for our program,” co-head coach Travis Norsen said. “But wow, it is much easier when everybody expects you to be bad, and then you can over-perform for a third or second place finish. It's so much harder to be the favorite in every game. But our kids handled the pressure and dug deep to overcome adversity in the last two games and I couldn't be more proud of them.”

The champs breezed through pool play on Saturday, beating Lexington 12-4, Four Rivers 13-4 and Lincoln-Sudbury 13-1 as they showed no signs of slipping up.

To start Sunday, Northampton picked up right where it left off the day before – shutting out Cambridge Rindge and Latin by a score of 13-0 in the quarterfinals. Then the Blue Devils started getting tested.

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Amherst was at near-full strength for the first time all season, and Northampton ran into its longtime rival in the semifinals. The ‘Canes jumped out to a 4-2 lead, but the Blue Devils rattled off five straight to take a 7-4 lead. The next two points went Amherst’s way, making it 7-6 with just a few minutes to go, but Northampton buckled down through intense humidity and closed strong to win, 9-6.

“Similar to the Amherst Invite, we had a target on our backs as the first seed,” Northampton co-head coach Mary Sheehan said. “The last two games on Sunday were difficult, but the team defied the pressure and weather to secure their first place victory. Winning states is awesome, but I think we did more than that. We were able to access the mental toughness and discipline required to hold our seed and also win, which I think is a next-level victory.”

In the title match, Northampton raced out to an early 7-2 lead, and eventually hung on to win, 9-7.

Next up for the Blue Devils is the national tournament, which is set for June 7-8 in Rockford, Ill.

“The kids have worked incredibly hard all season, and placing first in states just exemplifies how determined they were to succeed,” Sheehan said.

On the boys side, the Blue Devils had themselves quite the weekend as well. For the first time in their program history, they knocked off Amherst in a match – defeating the ‘Canes in the consolation bracket on Sunday.

Following the emotional win, Northampton followed that up with a big win over Newton North in the fifth-place game. The Blue Devils went from seeded 11th at the beginning of the tournament to sky-rocketing up to fifth – ending their season in style on their biggest stage.

Amherst girls turn in podium finish, boys take 7th

After giving eventual-champion Northampton its hardest match of the tournament, the Amherst girls finished in third. The ‘Canes came within one controversial point of knocking off the runners-up in Newton North on Saturday. Regardless, it was a strong outing from the Amherst girls, which won 8-4 over Lincoln-Sudbury to take third and went 4-2 overall on the weekend.

Third place is the Hurricanes’ best finish at the state championships since 2019, and according to head coach Dan Kaplan, they were led by seniors Phoebe Young, Annabel Ogden and Emily Feldstein, as well as juniors Isla Cusick, Addie Mager and Felix Goeckel throughout the tournament.

For the boys, Amherst came in seeded eighth and bumped up one spot to finish seventh overall. This spring, the ‘Canes were tasked with one of their youngest rosters in a long time, yet they still competed at a very high level and garnered important tournament experience all spring long.

Arlington won the Division 1 boys title with an 11-9 win over Four Rivers on Sunday.