St. Olaf Durga Exceeds Expectations Yet Again

Posted: May 18, 2014 05:55 PM

St. Olaf shocker not quite so shocking for team

Westerville, Ohio (May 18, 2014) - Going into the most important tournament of the year as the last seeded team doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

Durga of St. Olaf College has consistently been swooping through pool play in the women’s division at D-III Nationals despite being seeded last for years. This year, they were seeded 16th to start pool play on Saturday; today, they are playing in the championship bracket.

Lauren Hagen, co-captain and four-year member of the team said that although it seems unbelievable, Durga is used to breaking seed and expectations at the national level. "We kind of always stay in the same place in our region," she said. "Carleton, St. Ben’s and Grinnell are always at the top. We have a really tough region. We have that Carleton powerhouse at the top. So we always consistently place right outside of the top. But we get the backdoor because of Grinnell."

Gaining the backdoor bid every year is a blessing for Durga, but it does leave them scrambling sometimes. "We found out we were going to Nationals a week and a half ago," co-captain Laurel Oswald said. "We thought, let’s go, we have a really big senior class, and we want to play with them." But making the trip was difficult. Hagen said they had to rearrange their final exams and make sure that enough players could make the tournament.

Although they never get to qualify for Nationals in the "real way," the team knows they get a blessing in the form of great competition.

"We know that we can compete at a national level," Oswald said of the competition they face throughout the year. She attributes the team’s success this weekend to the competition in their region, despite always coming up just shy of an earned bid to Nationals.

They have shown in the past that their team can compete at Nationals. "We do our best when we just enjoy each other," Oswald said. And they must truly enjoy each other’s company to find themselves in the championship bracket. Hagen said the team consistently breaks seed each year at Nationals.

"Our team does really well when we have nothing to lose," sophomore co-captain Emma Keiski said. Her co-captains agree. "We play better when we’re on the rise," Hagen said.

Since they are feeling optimistic about the weekend, Durga’s goal was to just make it to the ninth-place game. They have reached and exceeded their goal. St. Olaf finished the weekend tied for fifth place.

Some day, Durga’s captains hope that they will actually qualify for Nationals, but for now, they are happy to play with their team. They don’t have to worry about the fanfare and the pressure, and that is good enough for them.

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