Six ranked squads are headed to New Jersey this weekend for one of the largest collections of D-III teams we'll see outside of Nationals.
February 24, 2017 by Marianna Heckendorn in Preview with 0 comments
Six teams from the D-III Top 25 will converge on Ultiment’s Bring the Huckus tournament this weekend in New Jersey. For most of them, the season has just begun; outside of a one-day tournament at Williams earlier this month, this will be most teams’ first competition with their recently selected A team. Many will be trying out plays and zone options that they have only ever used in practice. However, Bring the Huckus cannot be for working out the kinks and teaching rookies the game. This tournament is crucial to see how far teams have come since the fall on their journey towards Nationals.
As one of the largest collections of D-III teams we’ll see playing in inter-regional competition all spring, this tournament could have a big impact on bid allocations come the Series, given the historic lack of interconnectivity. Thankfully, the schedule will cooperate. Top squads from New England and the Ohio Valley — #4 Williams, #15 Bowdoin, #20 Lehigh, and #21 Swarthmore — have been drawn into an all D-III pool; #13 Haverford and #14 Amherst will square off in another. The rest of the pools are dotted with other D-III teams including Wellesley, Skidmore, and College of New Jersey.
How these teams perform will go a long way toward figuring out what the bid picture looks like in a couple months. With such high competition, this inaugural spring tournament needs to be when we see teams show us what they are capable of in the future.
- Date: February 25-26
- Location: West Windsor Township, NJ
- Weather: low 70s on Saturday then thunderstorms at night, 40s on Sunday with 14 mph winds
- Top 25 teams: 6
- Score Reporter
Games to Watch
Williams vs. Bowdoin
Pool B definitely has the most excitement for D-III fans, as all four teams come from strong D-III programs. Playing exclusively within the division during pool play is typically an experience restricted to Nationals. The most exciting matchup will be at 1:30 on Saturday when Williams LaWUFA, seeded second, take on Bowdoin Chaos Theory, seeded right behind them. Thankfully, the game should finish before the late afternoon thunderstorm is scheduled to hit, ensuring Mother Nature doesn’t interfere with an otherwise tasty New England region matchup.
Williams will be working to reincorporate two key contributors, Mairead Reynolds and Ava Anderson, both back from semesters abroad this fall. LaWUFA will being hoping that the month of practice and two pool play games Saturday morning are enough to bring the team chemistry back. Mia Wang’s quick grabs and savvy disc-reading are great assets, but her deep throws will be the key this weekend. Especially if Wang can find cutter Hayley Lescinsky cutting long. To take out the huck option, Bowdoin may be deciding between putting speedy, athletic rookies on Wang or aiming for a more focused, strategic mark, possibly provided by sophomore Rachel Musante.
One of the things that makes Bowdoin standout as a team is their depth. Not only do they possess one of the larger D-III programs — boasting fifty plus participants! — but their team really strives to rely on every member. Captains Hannah Broos and Kate Powers have emphasized Spirit of the Game and creating a well-rounded, knowledgeable team. We shall see if this emphasis on team depth results in individual improvement, and whether Chaos Theory’s starting seven can take on La WUFA’s best line.
Amherst vs. Haverford & Bryn Mawr
Haverford Sneetches are said to be returning to their former glory this season. With six juniors coming back from abroad and only recently getting the chance to practice outside, this tournament will put pressure on the team to rise to the hype.1
Missing last year’s standout Rosemary Ventura, the team’s tri-force captains Zoe Lewis, Larkin Johnson, and Grace Thiele will be leading by example in demonstrating fierce, tireless defense and patient, decisive throws. The three have developed a key on- and off-field chemistry that supports their entire team. Lewis specifically brings an unstoppable energy on D against almost any match-up. In addition to the captains, sophomore Opal Bednarik and senior Charlotte Edelstein are constantly working hard to get open and each have speed that is hard to guard — Bednarik often receiving under and Edelstein being sent deep.
The match-up between this Ohio Valley standout and Amherst Sparkle Motion — which gains a lot of experience playing against the many talented New England teams — will shed a lot of light on how the two regions match up. Sparkle Motion has their work cut out for them as they’re still recovering from a winless season two years ago. They will look to the athleticism and experience of Margo Cody, who at just 5’3” is frequently skying girls much taller. Julie “Cricket” Xia brings an invaluable field awareness to her handling role, highly evident in her constant around breaks. Yet if Haverford’s Lewis gets a read on Xia, maybe we’ll see a footblock of two come from that mark.
Swarthmore Battling In Pool B
Sitting at #21 and matched up in a pool with three teams ranked ahead of them, the Swarthmore Warmothers have an opportunity to seriously work themselves into bid territory with a big weekend at Bring the Huckus. Unfortunately, the team has had a tough start this spring, losing several seniors to injuries and academic commitments — the latter being a common struggle at D-III schools. This means their already large rookie class has big shoes to step up and fill.
Swarthmore is a team that does not have as large a program as others and so cannot separate out into A and B teams. Presently, everything runs through Emilie “Shep” Shepherd and Tessa “Kirby” Jones, who work their magic together in the backfield. Kirby in particular proves again and again how hard she is to mark. Emily “Bazinga” Cai will be bringing down the scores, running tirelessly on O and D.
Having a small squad can sometimes be a benefit as more playing time can results in better on-field chemistry, though it can just as easily be a detriment when lacking fresh legs on Sunday. The Warmothers will be hoping the former is their prevailing experience this weekend.
Of course, Bring the Huckus isn’t strictly a D-III event and several regional-level D-I teams from New England, the Metro East, and the Ohio Valley will be on hand to test the best D-III has to offer.
But for the D-III contenders, the goal for this tournament should be to see several teams develop their offensive flow and really challenge their opponents in the division. If they do, it’s certainly possible for a D-III squad to knock off top-seeded West Chester University and take home the gold.