By: Claire Jencks
There was never a dull moment on day three in the women’s division at the 2019 College Championships. Tight matches, zone defense and standout end-zone plays were the stories of today.
Early this morning, North Carolina Pleiades matched up against the California-Santa Barbara Burning Skirts. Led by handler Julia Kwasnick, the Skirts kicked the game off with a bang as they worked the disc smoothly up-field for a break. But Pleiades was not to be deterred, leveraging Tyler Smith’s dime throws and Anne Worth’s quick jukes to quickly put points on the board. With competing fanbases in the stands and dueling sideline cheers, the energy of this game was palpable throughout. But despite the Burning Skirts’ best efforts and Kaitlyn Weaver’s four goals and four assists, Pleiades pulled away after the half to take the win 14-11 and move on to the semifinals.
Nearby, Dartmouth Womxn’s Ultimate and Western Washington Chaos proved evenly matched for their quarterfinals game, trading points time and again. With the wind picking up, a Washington zone variation with continuous coverage on Dartmouth’s Verzuh proved highly effective in shutting down Dartmouth’s long game, forcing some less-than-ideal throws. Dartmouth’s Caitlyn Lee was a key player in this game, and despite the Chaos zone, remained effective in getting the disc up-field. Chaos took half with scores by Eleanor Joselyn and a stellar defense led by Samiya Ismail, and then pretty much stayed up one until a turn-heavy double-game point. Both teams had plenty of chances for the win during this heart-wrenching point, but a lofting upwind huck to a well-positioned Verzuh in the end zone signaled a Dartmouth victory and an end to Chaos’s bracket run.
Meanwhile, Carleton College and California-San Diego duked it out in a spirited and high-octane game. Carleton’s hot zone defense only slowed UCSD down a bit, with great disc movement by Psycho’s Ava Hanna and Dena Elimelech, among many others. Trading points was the name of this game, with the score differential staying within one until just after half. Carleton’s Karen Ehrhardt also had a fantastic game with six scores, but in the end, Syzygy couldn’t quite keep the Psychos down. Down two, but not out, UCSD summoned up their inner California fire and came back to take it all, finishing with an absolutely incredible downwind layout by Elimelech.
In yet another hotly contested quarters game, Cinderella story Wisconsin Bella Donna took on Ohio State Fever. After letting Ohio State jump out to a solid 3-0 lead, Bella Donna woke up a bit and brought the score within one until just after half. Despite the increasing wind, there was solid play from Wisconsin sophomore Margaret Walker and senior Sarah Mondshein, who had three scores, an assist and a whopping four D’s. After the half, however, Ohio State began to pull away, led by Emily Barret and her seven goals, and assists from Cara Sieber. Final score: Ohio 14, Wisconsin 11.
There was one word for semifinal game number one: grit, and lots of it. Number one seed UNC came in looking to dominate as they had all weekend, while number five seed Dartmouth sought a berth in the finals for a chance at a dynastic three-peat. With packed stands and a televised game, the tension was high as UNC scored first, before Dartmouth tied it up, and then both teams began to trade points. Before Dartmouth took half 8-7, the breeze turned into gusting wind, wreaking havoc for both sides and making each upwind point significant. UNC’s Dawn Culton was instrumental in this game, scoring four points, throwing one assist and logging three D’s. On Dartmouth’s side, Claire Trop scored seven, yes seven, huge catches in the end zone. At 10-8, it looked like Dartmouth might begin to pull away, but UNC kept it in reach, clawing back to within one with relentless D and gung-ho offense. In the end, Dartmouth came out on top 12-10 in the soft-capped game to win a spot in the finals tomorrow.
Semifinals game number two was a matchup between California-San Diego and Ohio State. Both teams had looked good all weekend, with four- and five-win records, respectively. After trading the initial few points, the Psychos began to pull head, breaking Fever’s zone with quick and inspired handler movement. The Psychos had no trouble maintaining momentum, taking half 8-3 and then steadily adding points to their tally up to a commanding 12-3 lead. For a second, Ohio State looked like they might stage a comeback with a score by Annelise Peters, but they proved no match for the Psychos’ gritty zone defense, which at times was so well coordinated it looked like they had an extra player on the field. Seven members of UCSD got on the scoreboard in this game, a testament to the Psychos’ deep and talented roster.
“We had nothing to lose,” said co-captain Dena Elimelech. “Our goal for this game was to be proud of where we’re at and to enjoy the moment. Tomorrow we want to play our hearts out and stay happy.”
Stay tuned, because tomorrow’s championship game between Dartmouth and California-San Diego will be one for the ages.
The women’s division’s championship game is set for 1.p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPNU and simulcast on ESPN3. Tune in!