DIII Championships: Saturday Recap

MILWAUKEE — After a wild day of upsets and exciting competition, the quarterfinal field is set for bright and early this morning.

In warm, sunny weather with a light breeze, the 32 best of the DIII division battled for a shot at the Championship bracket. Let’s break down the day.

OPEN DIVISION

The day’s biggest story in the Open Division: 2012 DIII Champions Carleton GOP went 1-3 on the day and missed Sunday bracket play after falling to Harding 13-12 in the prequarters. Rhys Lindmark was playing great, but the team was turnover prone and didn’t look sharp, particularly in their highly anticipated matchup against Middlebury.

PUGET SOUND GETS CHALLENGED, BUT STAYS ON TOP

The overall #1 seed Puget Sound — and our DIII expert’s pick to win the title this year — kicked off the day with a tough game against a sharp Lehigh team. The matchup was one of the best pool play games of the day; we’ll have the video up later today.

Lehigh jumped out to an early two break lead thanks to good defense and outstanding play from Nick ‘Falcore’ Mathison, one of the most dominant players at the tournament. But Puget Sound battled back with a 5-0 run and went into halftime with an 8-6 lead.

But Lehigh rebuilt a lead midway through the second half before watching it slip away as UPS went on another run, this time 4-0, to win the game in soft cap, 13-11.

The Postmen went on to easily clean up the rest of the pool to advance directly into quarterfinals.

They didn’t look as strong as some other teams on Saturday — Middlebury and Amherst, for example — but have proven all season that they are the team to beat.

AMHERST CONTINUES TO SURPRISE, BUT THEY’RE FOR REAL

After a lackluster regular season, Amherst came into the New England Regionals and shocked the DIII world with an undefeated run to the title. They came into Milwaukee woefully underseeded at #7 and proceeded to rip through pool play, including a 15-8 blowout over the overall #2 seed Harding.

Stefan Breitling, a celebrated DIII wrestler, used his strength and size to dominate the skies all day as Lock Whitney ran the show from behind the disc.

This is a team that will be contending for the title on Sunday. They are very well-coached, make smart in-game adjustments, and take care of the disc. They had just three turnovers in the second half against Harding.

MIDDLEBURY CRUISES INTO SUNDAY

Middlebury, another of the underrated New England teams, came in seeded 10th but had no trouble coming out of pool play 3-0. They looked a step faster than Carleton GOP throughout the game, and never allowed GOP to get even with them after taking an early lead.

They are playing at a very high level and look to be peaking right when they need to be. If they face Amherst in the semifinals, it should be quite a game.

Jeff Hetzel was cutting extremely well for the Pranksters and should help them make a run deep into Sunday.

POOL D WAS CRAZY

After getting upset 13-11 by John Brown, the first time qualifier out of the South Central, Pool D’s #1 seed Wake Forest recovered with two wins, including a blowout over the #5 seed Claremont, to get a bye into quarters.

John Brown looked poised to make a run into bracket play after the early upset, but they lost two close games and ended up as the fourth seed in the pool on point differential.

Ultimately, Wake Forest and Claremont made it out to quarters; both will be looking to play better on Sunday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Puget Sound, Amherst, and Middlebury look like the teams with the best shot at the title. Harding, on fresh legs for Sunday, should have a good shot at an upset over UPS, though. Their athleticism will match up well against Puget Sound.

As usual, the teams with the most poise and composure will be the ones making the deep run.

WOMEN’S DIVISION

Upsets were even more the story in the women’s division. Two 4 seeds made it to quarterfinals and no pool finished to seed. But the fundamentals haven’t changed — Valparaiso and Bowdoin look like the top teams and are likely to meet in the finals.

VALPO ROLLS TO EASY VICTORIES

Valparaiso allowed just 14 total points to be scored against them on Saturday, crushing every team they faced. They are very likely to win the title this weekend, they are a head above the rest of the teams here in both athleticism and disc skills.

BOWDOIN CRUISES AS WELL

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With a +33 point differential on Saturday, Bowdoin didn’t have much trouble either. They are likely to face Valpo in the finals. Bowdoin uses solid fundamentals and a good deep game to attack teams. Captain hoebe Aron ran the show on offense all day, and will have a big role in any tight games they face on Sunday.

PHILADELPHIA MAKES THE BRACKET IN FIRST NATIONALS APPEARANCE

In just their second year as a team, Philadelphia came into Milwaukee seeded 13th and with a roster of just 10 players. But they used a solid fundamental game to do just enough in a 2-2 Saturday to make it into the quarterfinals.

Allysha Dixon is a superstar and would be a force on any high-level DI women’s team. She did it all for Phila U, using her speed and high ultimate IQ to get big blocks, rip break side hucks, and pull down scores.

Philadelphia doesn’t have the depth to make a deep run today, but coach Nicolas LoPresto has taken this team an impressive distance in just four months of coaching.

Remember, Philadelphia technically didn’t make it to Nationals, but was invited after another team declined their bid. They showed they belong!

CLAREMONT UPSETS CARLETON TO FINISH 3-0

Claremont handled their business on Saturday, including an 11-9 upset over Carleton Eclipse, to head smoothly into the quarters.

Captain Tasha Arvanitis is playing at high level for the Greenshirts and they will have their eyes set on a Bowdoin upset in the semis.

WILLIAMS HAS NO TROUBLE IN POOL D

Williams, like most of the one seeds, looked unfazed by the competition on Saturday. They advanced easily to quarters.

Claire Baecher is the kind of player that could pose big problems for Valpo in semifinals — that will be the game to watch in the 10 AM round.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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