2015 D-I College Championships - Women's Day Three Recap

Posted: May 25, 2015 08:44 AM


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Day three of the Division I College Championships is in the books, and the championship final match ups are set for Monday afternoon.

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Oregon v. Dartmouth; Virginia v. British Columbia
On one side of the bracket, Oregon faced off against Dartmouth and Virginia took on British Columbia. Oregon’s zone defense helped them immensely in stifling what had been a potent Dartmouth offense. By confusing the cutters downfield and forcing a large number of touches between the Princess Layout handlers, Fugue had the game in their control all along. A total of nine different Fugue players scored in that game, including five goals from Olivia Bartruff, to cap off a great offensive showing. Their next opponent was the winner of Virginia and British Columbia, who were each battling off-the-field concerns. For Virginia Hydra, a handful of players were dealing with apparent food poisoning, which made playing very difficult or simply not possible, while British Columbia was without star player Mira Donaldson due to a shoulder injury from Saturday play. The game started off as a tight battle, but as the first half came to a close, it was the British Columbia Thunderbirds that were able to pull away. By distributing the disc effectively across the field, their offense was able to open up space against what had normally been a tight Virginia defense. Their true success though came by pressuring each throw and catch Hydra put up with Thunderbirds swarming the disc whenever it went up. This set up a regional rematch of Oregon Fugue and the British Columbia Thunderbirds in the semifinals.

Carleton College v. Whitman; Stanford v. Colorado
The opposite side of the bracket had Carleton College Syzygy playing the Whitman Lady Sweets and Stanford Superfly facing off against Colorado Kali. The Carleton versus Whitman game was the most exciting of the round. The teams traded the lead early on, each team with their own troubles: Whitman when moving the disc on offense, and Carleton in keeping defensive intensity. It was Carleton College that was able to shake off those troubles, erasing a 2-5 deficit, by finding the open spaces on offense and ramping up the defensive intensity. Where Whitman had once excelled, in scoring when they were near the end zone, they soon struggled with the Carleton pressure. Offensively, Carleton utilized cross-field swings to find an open cutter deep. Carleton fought they way back from the deficit to clinch a 15-10 win. When Stanford faced Colorado, it was often difficult to get a read on the game from afar. Seeing the wacky goal celebrations from Stanford Superfly has meant all weekend long that they’ve not only scored, but are in a comfortable spot. But Colorado Kali has had a very contagious team-first mentality; they were always cheering for their team, be it after their third straight point scored for or against them. So again, walking up to the game and while hearing loud cheering for Kali, it was difficult to determine who was on top. Stanford, though, had a big game defensively and ended up winning 15-7 over Colorado.


Oregon v. British Columbia
After each team systematically worked their way through the quarterfinals, each hoped to end the game still in the hunt for a championship. These teams met four times this spring; Oregon Fugue won three of the four match ups, with a combined score of 52-43, with the one Fugue loss coming at the Northwest Challenge – one of only two Fugue losses all year. In the semifinal, the two teams wasted no time getting used to the habits and style of each other – that they already knew quite well.

Much has been said this season about Jesse Shofner and how great of a player she has become for Fugue. In this game, she took it to another level on both offense and defense. Shofner finished the game with three tallies each for goals, assists and defensive blocks. She seemed extremely comfortable creating her own space while cutting and tearing apart whatever British Columbia threw at her. She was a huge part in the dynamic, and successful, Oregon offense. Their offense was always able to generate space on the field - not just through Shofner - and became extremely difficult for the Thunderbirds to contain.

But the Thunderbirds would not quit. Defensive blocks by Victoria McCann, who finished with a total of three, were huge in helping keep British Columbia from falling too far behind. Still, they had trouble stopping the efficiency of the Oregon offense. Kick-starting their own offense was another difficulty in itself. Oregon cruised to a 15-9 final score and a place in the championship game.

Stanford v. Carleton College
In the second semifinal, and the long rest that game before it, the rumblings around the field site focused on if Stanford could be upset by Carleton. These two teams had only seen each other in one other instance this season before today’s semifinal, which ended in a 13-7 victory for Stanford over Carleton College at the Stanford Invite, Superfly’s home tournament. But that was much earlier in the season, when Carleton wasn’t coming off a great run of games after their lone loss to UCLA late in Friday pool play. And it wasn’t the College Championships.

The game was very break-heavy early on, as offenses were not able to convert easy scores with each team’s defense buckled down and scoring points of their own. Carleton started the game with a break. Four points later, the same thing happened to Carleton, and Stanford broke for a 3-2 lead. Then Carleton stormed to a 5-3 lead. But, with the game tied at 5-5, Stanford’s offense helped bring the team to a halftime lead of 8-6, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the game.

The Superfly offensive surge was led by Monisha White, who used her vision to find open receivers all over the field, and a few key defensive blocks in the second half to stymie the Syzygy offense. Five separate players for Stanford also had two or more goals, but a couple players still stood out. Michela Meister had three goals, and Courtney Gegg had two huge points. Carleton’s variety of hucking the disc and exploiting open space on both sides of the field over short distances, was important in Stanford’s offensive strategy.

Carleton had a strong game of their own; it just simply wasn’t enough to overcome Stanford. Emily Buckner was matched up against Meister for most of the game and still managed to score four goals, throw one assist and record one defensive block. As a defensive unit, Syzygy’s goal-line stands against the Superfly offense were especially impressive. They often forced poor decisions out of Stanford and created chances for Carleton to score, but they weren’t always able to take advantage of those opportunities. The game ended 15-8, with Stanford advancing to tomorrow’s championship game.


Oregon Fugue and Stanford Superfly will meet in tomorrow’s finals which can be streamed live on ESPN3 at 1pm ET/12pm CT. Both teams enter the championship game without a loss in the tournament and a strong familiarity of each other. They have met three times so far this season, and all three ended with Oregon on top. In all but one of those games, an 8-15 defeat at the Northwest Challenge, Stanford showed they could handle the fast-tempo offense of Oregon; that’s something not many teams can claim this tournament, or season, against Oregon.

The key to the clinching the title will be who has the better game defensively. In both their quarterfinal and semifinal games, these two teams were able to force their opponents into making mistakes with the disc while making a relatively small amount of mistakes themselves. It won’t necessarily take a perfect game for Fugue or Superfly to win. Earlier in the tournament, Fugue showed that an up-and-down first half, like the one they played against Notre Dame, could be shaken off and turned into a resounding victory. For Superfly, as they faced an 0-3 hole against Washington in pool play, they were not only able to come back and tie the game, but were able to win it 15-11.

Be sure to tune in and watch on Memorial Day, as the top women’s teams in the country compete for the 2015 USA Ultimate Division I College Championship!


Carleton College
Finals: 1:00pm ET
Monday, May 25
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Stanford University

British Columbia
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Stanford University


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