By: Grace Kiel
Day one of the D-III College Championships brought surprisingly calm weather and a great start to the tournament. Williams College, the overall one seed, showcased their ability to play smart, collected ultimate. They went undefeated in pool play, winning comfortably each time. Caroline Weinberg led La WUFA in goals with eight points throughout pool play and was part of a three-way tie for most assists during the day between her, Ava Anderson and Haley Lescinsky that demonstrated the depth of talent on the team.
In a set of hard-fought, incredibly spirited games, Melissa Escudero and Katherine Yost led Georgia College in scores and assists, respectively. After losing their first game to Williams, they came back to play two close, well-fought games against RPI and Claremont. Fighting to pull ahead of RPI at the finish of pool play, they proved themselves to be a strong contender in this tournament, losing a well-contested game to Mount Holyoke in the crossover, showcasing a very well-organized defensive line.
RPI Strut played very solid defensive in their games and pulled out a win against Claremont in pool play. Offensively, they were led by strong play from Lindsay Zadunayski and Candy Zhang. In their crossover against Oberlin, they came out strong, taking an early lead and holding it, despite a strong rebuttal from Oberlin at the end of the match. Strut showcased very effective defensive strategies, finding their downfall in unfortunate missteps on offense.
The Claremont Greenshirts fought hard in all three of their games, playing some of the most spirited ultimate their competitors had ever experienced. They were able to make connections on the field, but struggled to keep play moving all the way down the field. Despite very good handler movement, the Greenshirts, who do not, in fact, wear green, simply couldn’t find the connections to tip their games in their favor. Despite this, the spirit they showcased today was remarkable.
The second overall seed, Bates, played in a very calm and collected manner. After a slower start in their first game against Pacific Lutheran, they found their footing, asserting themselves as a more dominant force. Cameron Johnson and Grace Warder led Cold Front in scores, with Libby Masalsky trailing close behind, for an explosive offense throughout their games. With these three, and several other players working to lead Bates to an undefeated first day of play, Gillett controlled the disc at the end zone, throwing 33 assists in the day’s three games.
St. Olaf Vortex was able to play a very controlled offense, with really smart handler movement and very purposeful throws coming from Tulsa Douglas, who led the team with 32 assists on the day. Kaitlyn Mulbern dominated the scoring potential of Vortex with 15 goals on the day. Holding their own against Bates, they created quite a contest. In their pre-quarterfinal game against Amherst, St. Olaf played a very fluid game with great movement throughout, something consistent with their play during all four of the day’s games.
In their debut at the D-III Championships, North Park fought hard, proving their win at Great Lakes Regionals was no accident. Despite some incredible movement of the disc through their handlers and solid positioning from their cutters, imperfect execution and impatience made them work harder than they may have needed to.
Pacific Lutheran put up a hard fight in each of their games but went 0-3 on the first day, losing by very small margins every time. Margaret Chell led the team in scores, while handler movement and assists were distributed amongst Krysia Davis and Emma Mickelson, with many other players taking charge on the field as well. The Reign women worked for their points and didn’t give up any goals without quite a fight.
In a surprising turn of events, 10th-seeded Lehigh took the top spot in their pool, going undefeated on the day. Smart, patient play gave Gravity an edge in each of their games, being marred more than anything by occasional poor handling of the disc, which led to some unfortunate drops while in scoring position. Re-centering themselves, Madison Cannon was able to lead the team in both scores and assists, proving to be vital to their success throughout the day.
Despite some incredibly athletic play and remarkable bids from many Puget Sound players, they were unable to take the lead against Lehigh. After a hard-fought loss against Gravity, Clearcut became much more dominant for the rest of the day. Puget Sound came in second in their pool and ended with a comfortable win over North Park in the pre-quarterfinal, with Emma Piorier and Mickela Heilicher leading their offensive charge.
Amherst played a very calm game against Rice, winning comfortably to start the day. From there, Sparkle Motion fought hard in their remaining games but were unable to pull ahead, despite the scoring power of Kyra Wortley and Carly Drost. In a well-matched pre-quarterfinal game against St. Olaf Vortex, Sparkle Motion played strong but, once again, couldn’t come away with the lead. Despite that, they could be heard from the sideline, always cheering for their team and others.
Rice Torque was unable to come away with any wins today, being hindered in large part by many hasty decisions. Stumbling on deep looks after working the disc amongst their handlers, seeming to get impatient with smaller plays, they looked to move the disc up the field with hucks that were rarely connected, resulting in many fast turns. In spite of some of their struggles on offense, Jacqueline Lee was able to pull ahead in the team’s stats, bringing in four points for Torque.
In a Pool D mix-up, the winner of the pool was determined on point differential, after Oberlin beat Wesleyan with just a single-point margin. Wesleyan was able to clinch first place in the pool, with two handy wins over Catholic and Mount Holyoke. Their point differential in those games played to their favor, thanks in large part to Eileen Connor’s 13 goals and Chi Chi Wakabayashi’s 12 assists.
Oberlin scraped out two narrow wins against Wesleyan and Catholic and lost to Mount Holyoke by an equally narrow margin. Three incredibly close games required Oberlin to work very hard for their wins, relying on Abagael Cheng and Emma March to lead their offense and keep their leads. In the pre-quarterfinal round against RPI, despite going down very early, Oberlin made a great comeback, contesting the offense of RPI with strong defense and chilly offensive movement.
Mount Holyoke made smart plays and had good handler movement. Their play demonstrated how sure they are of themselves, beating Catholic comfortably in pool play and Georgia College in the pre-quarters. Mahmuda Alam and Katrina Meserve led the way in scores, and Meserve controlled the offensive movement, throwing 30 assists throughout the day.
Catholic fought for each of their points, working their offense through Grace Castro. Their intensity on defense made them fierce competitors for each team they played and kept the contests alive. Despite their work on defense, they weren’t able to come away with any wins, but they stayed spirited throughout the day.