“Don’t cry because it’s over — smile because it happened.”
Don’t tell that to Stanford Superfly, though — the Stanford women’s ultimate frisbee team found themselves in tears after a tough 13-11 loss in the national championship to Oregon on Monday afternoon, but they were tears of triumph and perseverance, not of disappointment.
“I don’t think that it was so much I was crying because we lost,” said junior captain Monisha White. “I was crying because my season with Superfly with this group of 20 people had ended. I just wanted to play another game with them the next day.”
The tough loss to Oregon Fugue in the final was the culmination of a long season — one of not only blood, sweat and tears from countless practices and 7 a.m. sprints, but also of tremendous personal and team growth, from a group of people bound by the disc to a tight-knit family bound by countless triumphs playing the game at the highest level in the collegiate game.
The members of Superfly, the No. 2 overall seed in the national tournament, were always fairly sure that any road to the national championship would have to go through Oregon, the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
And on a rainy weekend in Milwaukee, both teams sure lived up to their billings as the teams to beat.
With the top two teams in each of the four preliminary pools moving on to the championship rounds, Oregon took care of business in Pool A, fighting past Victoria, Florida State, Notre Dame and Central Florida to coast into the bracket.
Meanwhile, Stanford did the same against the talent in Pool B by almost unheard-of margins — Superfly first dominated No. 18 Middlebury 15-1 and No. 7 Dartmouth 15-6 on Friday before besting No. 11 Washington 15-11 and No. 14 Ohio State 15-3. The absurd margins of victory certainly turned heads — and not all of them were on opposing teams.
“I was proud; those were bigger wins than I was anticipating for any of our games at nationals,” White said. “It was pretty awesome. I’d say that was a good confidence boost.”
But all the while, through the domination, Superfly’s eyes remained firmly fixed on the ultimate prize: Oregon.
“We knew they were going to be the biggest competition the whole time,” White said. “The whole season I’d been anticipating that our season would end with us matching up with Oregon in the finals. I knew that would definitely be the hardest battle to fight.”
With that goal in mind, there was nothing that was going to stop Stanford on its path of destruction to its final duel with Oregon — certainly not Colorado in the quarterfinals or Carleton in the semifinals. Superfly soared 15-7 and 15-8 in those matches, and on the other side of the bracket, Oregon also did its job.
“I think that I even anticipated quarters and semis to be closer than they ended up being, but we came out and rolled in those games too,” White said. “I think that what I’m really proud of us for after having such big wins and creating big gaps is we’re still playing our game and playing up to our level.”
Indeed, despite its sheer dominance, Superfly never took its foot off the gas pedal and never got complacent with its success — and by Monday morning, to nobody’s surprise, Superfly and Fugue were staring each other down from opposite ends of the field with the national title at stake.
“They’d also been rolling teams throughout,” White said. “It was a big matchup. I knew it would be a tight game, but I had total confidence that we could win.”
The final certainly lived up to all of the hype. Neither team led by more than two points at any moment in an ugly match marred by high winds, and although Stanford led the back-and-forth affair for the first half, errors led to a 3-point run from Oregon to turn a 8-7 deficit into a 10-8 lead, which proved to be too much for Stanford to overcome. Despite three goals by Courtney Gegg and two apiece from Natasha Field-Marsham, Halsey Hoster and Caitlin Go, Superfly ultimately fell just short by the 13-11 final margin.
“We totally could have won and it could have gone either way,” said White, who led everybody on the field with eight defenses in the final. “We left it all on the field. After that game, I’m proud as hell of our team.”
It was impossible for the team to be disappointed after its championship loss, though — the team had come too long of a way throughout the season and the achievements that they had made together were too tremendous to live in the wake of one defeat — regardless of the significance of that loss.
“The growth our team has gone through this year is the most ridiculous growth I have ever experienced on a team, both in terms of how close we’ve become as a team — how much we’ve learned to care for each other and how hard we work together and how closely-knit we are — as well as how much our level of play has grown is incredible, both individually and as a team.”
In victory, Superfly stood together all weekend — and even in defeat, they stood together with heads held high and an unforgettable season not soon to fade in the rearview mirror.
“We all felt incredible. I don’t think I could have been prouder of our team, even if we had won the whole thing.”
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dhpark ‘at’ stanford.edu.