ARHS Teams Dominate Amherst Invitational Tournament Again

Photo: Amherst Ultimate

The Amherst Regional High School boys and girls varsity ultimate frisbee teams have done it again. They dominated the finals of the Amherst Invitational ultimate tournament held last weekend (5/7-5/8) at the McDuffie School in Granby.

This is the 29th time the tournament was held, although it was on hiatus for the last two years because of COVID. The Amherst girls have won 18 of the 23 times the girls division existed. This year, they came in second behind Lexington High School girls with an 11-3 loss in the finals.

Photo: Phyllis Clapis

The boys varsity had won 15 out of the 28 tournaments prior to this year’s event. This year they defeated Pennsbury (PA) High School in the finals, 13-8, after losing to them the previous day in preliminary action, 9-5. Boys coach Joe Costello said the loss to Pennsbury on Saturday was a gift to the boys team. The team was just coming together in that  game.

“We knew the first day of Amherst Invitational, we would learn a lot,’’ Costello said. He said his co-coach Leila Tunnell had the best advice for the team after the loss.

“She said, ‘You might not know it right now, but this loss is an immense gift we have been given if we choose to accept it.’ The team came in the next day really focused and understanding the amount of energy they needed. We were more consistent in the way we played. We just decided to be more ourselves. That made all the difference for us.’’

ARHS senior Peter Carlson-Belanger said he and his teammates were happy to be able to play in the Amherst Invitation after the two-year Covid shut-down.

Even when school closed, teammates continued to get together outdoors and practice unofficially. The last time the seniors were at the Amherst Invitational, they were in ninth grade and on junior varsity teams.

“We are so grateful to come back and have this big win. Leila told us the whole day was about having joy. We were so happy,’’ he said.

Even during games, the boys team was able to have fun, telling jokes, listening to music and dancing, playing games during time outs. During one time-out, a toddler wandered around in the middle of the huddle.

“We are all happy, joyful people doing this because we love this and we love each other,’’ Costello said.

Twenty-six teams participated in the tournament in three divisions, including six from Amherst: boys varsity, girls varsity, boys junior varsity A and B, girls junior varsity and the Amherst Regional Middle School team. 

This is the first year that the tournament has been played solely at MacDuffie School in Granby, just over 10 miles from Amherst Regional High School. The tournament had previously been centered at the high school, but games were also played at MacDuffie, the middle school and the University of Massachusetts due to the number of fields needed and wet field conditions at ARHS.

The consolidation onto one site at MacDuffie kept everyone in one place. Although the conditions were cold and windy, the fields were dry. The only obstacle was a killdeer bird’s nest in the end zone in one of the fields which was cordoned off with cones and avoided by players. 

Until the fields at ARHS are improved, the tournament may remain at MacDuffie. Players, coaches and parents agreed the location was good and the main downside was not being near downtown Amherst. 

All the Amherst High School teams will be participating in the Pioneer Valley Invitational this weekend (May 14-15) at the Oxbow fields in Northampton. The following weekend, there is a tournament in Greenfield hosted by the Four Rivers Charter School. The state finals for Division 1 boys are Memorial Day weekend in Northampton.

One of the ARHS boys team players, Louis Douville Beaudoin’s season will continue long after the ARHS team’s season is over. He is one of 48 players who will compete at the 2022 World Juniors Ultimate Championships in Wroclaw Poland in August.

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