(D-III College Women's event page)
The weather-delayed pre-quarters started at 7:30 a.m., which meant two things: soggy fields and wet discs. There were bound to be turnovers, so it was up to the players to capitalize on them.
In the only close pre-quarter game, Wesleyan threw a patient zone defense against Williams to nearly steal the game. After some early turnovers led to a Wesleyan three-point lead, Williams settled down and rode steady handling from Haley Lescinsky to keep them in it and finally seal the win at 11-10.
The other three pre-quarters all made it to 15 points, with Rice handling Luther 15-8, Truman State beating Amherst 15-6, and Carleton riding strong a strong game from their seniors to defeat Mount Holyoke 15-10.
The quarterfinal round is where the drama really started to pick up, with two of the play-in teams advancing and a third losing by one point. St. Olaf had the largest win margin of the round in their game with Truman State. They traded for the first three points, then St. Olaf went on an eight-point run before Truman State could find the goal again. The cap came on, and St. Olaf advanced 12-5.
Claremont tried to continue their winning run against Rice, but Torque had a couple two-point runs early before Claremont regained composure to trade the rest of the way. The damage was done, however, and Rice won with the cap 12-9.
Carleton fared similarly in their game with Bates – they got a three-point cushion early, then weathered the comeback attempt to win 12-11 on double-game point after the cap. Devon Graham had four assists for Eclipse, and Leah Roach made some key Ds late to keep the Bates comeback from being completed.
Over on field 13, the effects of the storm were most apparent as a huge portion of the playing field was covered in standing water. The Puget Sound and Williams players didn’t seem to mind as they ran hard and bid often despite the wet conditions. The teams traded points to 5-5, then the wind started gusting, and Puget Sound got a spectacular layout goal from Erin McMillan for the game’s first break. This led to a run from Clearcut to get to 9-5 before Williams scored again. With the cap on, Puget Sound held out against a Williams comeback to win 10-9 and face Carleton in the semis.
The field conditions were better for the Puget Sound v. Carleton match up, but Clearcut made some costly mistakes early that Eclipse was able to capitalize on, and suddenly Carleton was up 6-1, again riding calm handling from Devon Graham. The poachy Eclipse defense was able to take advantage of an increasingly anxious Clearcut offense, forcing throws and riding their lead to an 11-6 victory. Puget Sound never gave up, and Becca Ebert in particular was still making layout Ds until the final point.
The second semifinal featured St. Olaf, the other team from Carleton’s hometown of Northfield, Minn., going against Rice in a much closer game. The teams traded points until St. Olaf got the first break to take half 8-7. It looked like an all-Northfield final was imminent, but Rice had other plans. Despite having to start the second half on D, they stayed poised and ground out two breaks to win 9-8 in the cap. Tulsa Douglas had a huge game in the losing effort, throwing all but one of the St. Olaf goals.
The finals was a rematch of a game that has happened at Nationals for now the third year in a row (two years ago in the finals, and last year in the semis) that Rice won both times. Early on, it looked like the third time would be the charm for Carleton as they opened up a 5-2 margin off some bad decision making from Rice’s handlers that Eclipse was able to convert. Rice got two more points before half, but the game looked well in hand with Carleton up 8-4. It should be noted that Carleton played a line of mostly eight players all weekend, with six of them on for nearly every point. Rice used their bench much more and had fresher legs.
Before the game, Rice coach Ashley Shelor commented that they rebounded from their day one loss to Puget Sound by sticking to their philosophy of "playing Torque ultimate: rage on D, chilly on O."
After half, Rice came out and turned the disc immediately but got a gift when Carleton turned it right back. Emma Wine found Marica Sharashenidze for a huck score. The ensuing pull went out of bounds at midfield, but the wind began to be a factor, and both teams traded turns before Brandi Ransom got a D and then hauled in a huck near the goal and tossed the assist to cut the lead to 8-6. Two more breaks and the game was tied 8-8 with the cap imminent.
After trading points to 9-9, the game was capped at 11. Rice punched in a goal for a 10-9 lead, and then Carleton had an unforced turn from standout Devon Graham. Rice quickly called timeout, then moved the disc all the way down the field. With no defenders in sight, and a disc on the way to a handful of Rice players in the end zone, Leah Roche made a game-saving layout D seemingly out of nowhere. Eclipse marched back down the field with four fingertip catches before Lisa Qiu found Kate Wagner for the tying score.
Double-game point saw Rice receive the disc, but they failed to connect on a deep huck. Qiu saw speedy fellow senior Ellie Fireside-Ostergaard streaking deep and let off a huck that sailed well over Ellie’s head. Haley Olson was charging down the far side of the field, ignored by the defense, and the disc hit her in stride in the end zone for the Carleton victory.
Afterwards, Olson said she didn’t even remember what happened or how she made the catch, but it was an apt end to the tournament as she had come up huge all weekend and was touted as team MVP by several players.
The competition level in Division III has definitely started to rise, as several players and coaches noted how many close games were played this weekend.