After taking a timeout, Macleod said the team took a deep breath and remembered how they got there in the first place: they’re good enough, and they trust each other.
On its next possession, Darkside star Matt Gouchoe-Hanas scored, bringing the team one goal away from a national title.
After shutting down En Sabah Nur’s next possession, junior Elijah Long heaved the disc downfield with the hopes of ending the game right there.
Colin Smith, a transfer student from Texas A&M playing his first season with Darkside, hauled in the goal, sealing the victory for Darkside at 14-10 and bringing the championship back to UNC.
Gouchoe-Hanas said the win fulfilled what Darkside had expected of itself from the start of the season. After winning the championship in 2015, Darkside had experienced two straight years of semifinals losses. Players who had been on the roster for those defeats knew how close they’d been to recreating the success of 2015, and they saw this season as the chance for redemption.
“A mantra that we kind of said to ourselves repeatedly was, ‘We want to beat the best teams in order to be the best team,’” Gouchoe-Hanas said.
On Monday, Gouchoe-Hanas was named Ultiworld’s 2018 D-1 College Player of the Year. According to Ultiworld, the UNC senior secured the honor through stellar play in the national tournament, where he scored 20 goals, had nine assists and was a valuable defensive presence despite playing on Darkside’s offensive line.
Macleod said that Darkside also benefitted from a highly-skilled group of underclassmen who helped shoulder the load at times. He thinks that aspect of the team’s roster is what will ensure its success for years to come.
“The young guys coming in have been buying in fully to what Darkside is about and the sort of success we can have if we all take it seriously,” Macleod said. “For the past few years, we’ve been getting a lot of skilled frisbee players. They’re coming in with much more talent than I had coming in but with the same work ethic.”
Darkside plays its official season in the spring, but practices year-round. The teammates often spend their time outside of ultimate frisbee together, often going to the dining hall or studying.
Macleod said that the close connection shared between the team is a big part of their continued success. When a game gets tense, and the opposing team appears to be arguing among themselves, Darkside’s players aren’t fazed. They’re still having fun.
Gouchoe-Hanas said his experience with Darkside went beyond the sport itself.
“I came to UNC from a small school, and I realized that at such a big university, you need to find your niche of people,” Gouchoe-Hanas said. “You need to find your group in order to not just feel like a tiny fish in a giant sea, and that’s what Darkside is for most of the guys on the team.”