UCF Paintball lost to Florida Atlantic University 11-2 in Lakeland on Sunday to finish fourth in the 2015 NCPA National Championship.
After winning last year against UConn, the Knights came up short after a slow start against FAU going for their second consecutive championship.
“We did good, but we just let one match get the best of us,” said Brandon Mojica, a senior health sciences major. “Everything that could go wrong during that match went wrong, we got penalties and we just kind of beat ourselves.”
The Knights’ performance was stunted early due to the penalties they received and it was an uphill battle for the rest of the match. Each match consists of two 10 minute halves, which left the team with very little time to make up for early penalties.
A ‘dirty hang’ or swing point was the unfortunate penalty for the Knights and cause for the rough start. That penalty happens when someone who has been hit scores a point that the refs didn’t see which results in the point being taken away and given to the opposing team.
Alex Zudell, UCF junior and interdisciplinary studies major, has been playing paintball for 12 years and was with the team as a coach at the National Championship this year. Zudell said the team had to really deviate from their game plan after starting down 4-0 and was that they definitely could have come away with.
“FAU is [at the Nationals] a lot and they have a good program too, we’ve beaten them every time and this time we just lost it to them big time,” Zudell said.
The founder of the team and president of the sports club Zak Daughtry sees a major rivalry developing between UCF and FAU. Both teams have met five times over the last two years between PSP World Cup and the NCPA Nationals (consecutive years now in the semi-finals).
“It’s probably the biggest rivalry in Collegiate Paintball history because we know all of them,” Daughtry said. “We play paintball against them in the PSP [Paintball Sports Promotions], they are all guys we see on the weekends.”
The National Collegiate Paintball Association or NCPA hosts schools from all around the country at the event held in Lakeland every year; however schools from Florida have come out on top now each of the last three years. Daughtry, Mojica, and Zudell all attribute that to the fact that teams in Florida can play year round while teams from the north have to put their efforts on hold in the winter.
Daughtry and company are definitely looking forward to the future though, with the loss to FAU only reinvigorating their will to win.
“We didn’t feel like anyone could really touch us, but losing that bad in front of everyone was like ‘ok, we need to come back and fight’,” Daughtry said.
UCF Paintball’s next big event is the World Cup in October which is free to attend for anyone. The team will also have a slightly new look with four players graduating, while FAU will be returning all of their starters as the teams look to continue their growing rivalry.