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St. Olaf Wins 2018 Women’s D-III Championships

By: Grace Kiel

While the morning started out with over three hours of rain delay, many teams, led by St. Olaf Vortex, took advantage of having the relatively undivided attention of so many different ultimate teams, both women’s and men’s, to have a discussion on gender equity in ultimate. It was an incredible use of the delay and a tremendous way to continue bettering the sport of ultimate, in an effort to make it as inclusive as it possibly can be for people of all walks of life. The input from so many different perspectives and voices, including some coaches, and even parents, was truly remarkable. Very well timed, these discussions wrapped up as rain delays were ending and teams were headed back to the fields to warm up.

In the quarterfinals, we saw St. Olaf take a surprising lead over Williams (watch the women’s quarterfinal here). A strong offense led by Tulsa Douglas and Kaitlyn Mulhern combined with an effective zone defense taking advantage of the much windier second day weather conditions were in the Vortex arsenal and led the second seed to victory over the one seed, Williams. Vortex was able to take a strong lead early and keep it throughout the game, leaving Williams a bit shocked, whose strong defensive plays simply couldn’t match St. Olaf’s offense.

In a nail-biting, point-to-point game between Puget Sound and Wesleyan, both teams battled to the end for their place in the semifinals. While it was Puget Sound that was able to pull away with the win, these two teams played both incredible offense and defense, being hindered more than anything by poor field and weather conditions. In the end, Clearcut’s zone was what gave them the edge, forcing Wesleyan to play a more rushed offense, creating a few critical mistakes that Puget Sound was able to capitalize on for the win.

In a similarly close game, Lehigh arose victorious over the worthy competitor it found in RPI. These two teams worked the disc up and down the field in a very competitive and spirited game. While neither team ever had more than a two-point lead, the closeness led to an incredible contest. Stellar bids and a chillier offense is what the 10 seed, Lehigh, used to earn the win over the 8 seed, RPI, in this quarterfinal.

Bates played a very efficient quarterfinal game against Mount Holyoke. We did not see them turning as many deep look as we did in other games, instead using their short game to work the disc up the field continually. With an offense run through Josie Gillett, they capitalized on opportunities whenever possible and were able to keep the lead they had throughout the game, advancing them to the semifinals to play Lehigh.

In the semifinal match up between Bates and Lehigh, we saw the teams trading points until half, after which Bates was able to come out as the more dominant team, once again leading their offense though Gillett, who threw nine of the team’s 13 scores in the game. Both defensively and offensively, Lehigh proved to be a fierce competitor, working the disc very well up the field, keeping themselves in the game the entire time. A very cohesive defensive strategy lent a fluidity to their play, forcing Bates to work that much harder for their place in the finals.

Puget Sound and St. Olaf proved to be a close game as well, with Puget Sound staying within three points of Vortex throughout. The weather saw many successful zone defenses and equally as many deep looks thwarted by inconsistent crosswinds. Despite the conditions, St. Olaf was able to string together several points later in the game to take a commanding lead over Clearcut and hold it. Capitalizing on some of the offensive mistakes made by Puget Sound, Vortex earned their place in the final against Bates.

After Bates Cold Front was shuttled to the finals, a shortened final game to accommodate the travel crunch created for Bates by the morning’s weather began. This re-match from pool play saw two strong teams led by two very strong players. Gillett threw all eight Bates scores in the final, showing time and again her ability to get her team in an easy scoring position and executing well on the opportunities they had. While Douglas did not throw all 11 of Vortex’s points, she did throw nine (four of which were to Mulhern), scoring the remaining two points herself. It is clear that many similarities could be seen in both the styles of play and strategies of these two teams, but Bates use of Gillett to facilitate their offense was no match for the chemistry of Douglas and Mulhern, earning St. Olaf the championship.

Watch the women’s final here.

At the end of the day, we saw St. Olaf Vortex take home first place, Bates Cold Front rush to the airport with their second-place medals and Catholic Nun Betta earn the Team Spirit Award at the 2018 D-III Women’s College Championships.

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