By: Sarah Judd
On one side of the bracket, the quarterfinals went exactly as expected, with Dartmouth and Stanford asserting their dominance. In the other side of the bracket, Pittsburgh and Colorado proved that nothing is for certain, as they handed down two more upsets in a women’s division ripe with upsets thus far.
Dartmouth v. British Columbia
In their closest game of the weekend thus far, Dartmouth took a 15-9 victory over British Columbia. Dartmouth got a quick and early 6-1 lead that propelled them to the win. At 7-2, British Columbia managed to hold and then break twice, bringing the score to 7-5. Dartmouth took half, though, and finally reacted to the poachy defensive looks UBC was throwing. Out of half, Dartmouth notched three breaks in a row to bring the score up to 11-5, seemingly spelling a soon-to-be defeat for UBC. But the Thunderbirds responded.
UBC broke once more in the second half to bring the score to 13-8. Dartmouth and UBC traded the last three points until Dartmouth’s 15-9 victory. Although UBC was running their offense effectively by the end of the game, they were simply unable to generate the defensive turns necessary to dig them out of the hole Dartmouth established in the first half. It is notable that this was the closest game Dartmouth has had thus far on the weekend. Although UBC was able to eventually execute effective offensive flow, defensively there was almost nothing they could do to stop Dartmouth’s offense. It will be interesting to see Dartmouth’s semifinal match up against Stanford, who has been playing multiple intense defensive zone looks. It seems as though if anyone is going to be able to stop Dartmouth’s decisive offense, Stanford is the team to do it. Six Dartmouth players notched the team’s 15 goals, with Claire Trop bringing in an impressive seven goals.
Stanford v. UNC
In another quarterfinals match up that went relatively as expected, Stanford Superfly notched a 15-8 win over the UNC Pleiades. The teams started off by trading points, but at 3-2, Stanford set a flat 3-3-1 zone that completely stopped UNC’s offensive movement and led to a three-break run to take Stanford to a 6-2 lead. UNC’s next hold came off of a high-stall scoober that was barely caught on an amazing grab by Rebecca Fagan. Despite the hold, Stanford had the momentum and quickly put up a hold and a break of their own to take half 8-3.
Coming out of the half, Stanford continued to set their oppressive zone, with Julia Butterfield eating up deep looks and Stanford breaking twice to bring the score to 10-3. After three holds, UNC was finally able to convert and break back, bringing the game to 11-6. From there, points lengthened, and turnovers increased, but Stanford still held the upper hand. Superfly scored four of the last six points, bringing them to a 15-8 victory over UNC. Their defensive pressure was simply too much for UNC, who could not string together clean offensive passes against Stanford’s zone. Stanford will need those zone defensive looks as they go on to face defending champion Dartmouth in the second women’s semifinal this evening.
Oregon v. Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh came into the quarterfinal round after a bye on Saturday evening, thanks to their double-game point victory over UBC which gave them their first-ever Nationals pool win. Oregon, on the other hand, was coming off of a pre-quarters win over Tufts. Early in their quarterfinal game, Oregon broke, making it 1-2, but there seemed to be a huge momentum shift after Pitt tied it at 3s. Oregon managed to hold, making it 3-4, but only after the Pittsburgh D line forced four turns with a stifling zone look. The Pittsburgh offense turned around and easily scored for 4s as their sideline rallied to Fugue’s silence. Pitt star Carolyn Normile threw a beautiful break backhand to notch Danger’s first break, and as the sideline erupted in cheers, Oregon’s energy seemed to fade another notch. Pitt broke two more times to take the half 8-6.
Coming out of half, energy seemed to be the biggest determining factor. The Pittsburgh sideline, with the help of regional neighbors Ohio State, was deafening, while Oregon was almost silent. After a quick run-through D, Pittsburgh broke right out of half, and in a classic offensive move for Pitt, Normile threw another beautiful backhand to Gabby Doran for another break, taking Pitt up 10-6. In a moment that was indicative of the larger game, after an Oregon hold, Fugue slowly walked onto the field, while Pitt’s offensive line literally raced each other to the line. Pitt demonstrated a joy for the game that carried them through the second half. They stayed on serve for the rest of the game, taking a 15-11 win over Oregon Fugue. Normile caught the final goal as the rest of the Pitt squad paused, watched the observers and then raced onto the field in ecstasy. Pittsburgh will face Colorado in the semifinals, streamed live at 2:30 p.m. today on ESPN3.
Texas v. Colorado
Texas was coming into the quarterfinal after an unexpected Pool B win. With the top spot, they had no pre-quarter matchup to worry about; however, in their last pool play game, Carleton College handed them a loss that left them in a momentum limbo. Meanwhile, Colorado was coming off of two wins, first a pool play upset over Tufts and then a pre-quarter win over N.C. State. The regional rivals met again in bracket play, after last year meeting in the semifinals. Colorado managed to take the game 12-8, but that was not a given from the start. Texas opened an early 3-1 lead over Kali, but Colorado responded with their own scoring run, putting up three straight breaks to take a 6-4 lead. With the lead, Colorado seemed to gain a huge mental advantage, and Texas seemed to have the wind knocked right out from them.
Colorado took the half 8-6 over an exhausted-looking Texas squad. Coming out of halftime, Colorado proved their depth, rolling out lines of younger players led by a veteran who, with fresher legs, were able to run Texas into the ground. Kali broke two more times in the second half to avenge their regional final loss and last year’s national semifinal loss to Texas. With the 12-8 win over Melee, Colorado secured their place in the semifinals for the second consecutive year. They will meet Pittsburgh in a semifinal match up that almost no one could have predicted. Regardless of who wins this match up, one team will be making history, as neither has ever before been to a College Championships final.