College Update: A Wild Regionals Super Sunday

Most of the field is set for Nationals across all divisions after a crazy weekend.

Colorado celebrates winning the game to go at South Central Regionals 2019.
Colorado celebrates winning the game to go at South Central Regionals 2019. Photo: Marshall Morris —

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During the spring season, we will publish a bite-sized weekly recap of the action across the college division. This will serve as a supplement to our standard tournament reporting and will offer a high-level look at the latest happenings and the biggest stories of the week.

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Here’s Who’s Headed to Nationals

North Carolina
Western Washington
Ohio State
UC San Diego
UC Santa Barbara

The Metro East’s single bid is the only outstanding bid.

UBC Knocked Out in Northwest Shocker

The most shocking elimination in the women’s division was that of #3 British Columbia, who suffered three straight losses to end their season at Northwest Regionals. The no. 1 seed reached the final of the Northwest Challenge roughly a month ago before going undefeated at Cascadia Conferences. A pool play loss to Oregon portended trouble for UBC, although they still won the pool on point differential.

In ther first place semifinal, #20 Washington dug an early hole, going down 7-4. But Element held and then ground out a break to come within one, and added another before the half, making the tally 8-7 in UBC’s favor. The favorite extended that lead to two and were up 10-8 before giving up four straight to UW, led by big plays from Janet Ho and Haley Lescinsky. Rookie Steph Phillips was tremendous for Washington in the upset that qualified them for Nationals. #6 Western Washington defeated UW in the title match, and while both had already secured advancement, WWU likely locked up a top six seed and gave themselves a shot at even at top four seed.

UBC had to win out in the single elimination third place bracket. They lined up across from an #21 Oregon team that had beaten them Saturday, and was coming fresh off of a dominant showing against Victoria. Oregon took half 8-6, and pushed the lead to 10-6 to begin the second half. Fugue fended off the UBC comeback to win 12-9 and eliminate a Nationals semifinals contender. Oregon went on to defeat Utah in the game to go to take the last bid to Nationals.

Quick Hits

  • While the final result in the one-bid Atlantic Coast was the expected advancement of #4 North Carolina, who dominated #24 Clemson in the final, it wasn’t without drama. In semifinals, #25 South Carolina‘s defense halted UNC, and the upstart went up 4-1. South Carolina took an 8-6 lead into halftime, but a four goal run out of the half put Pleiades back in front; North Carolina never conceded that lead. After dropping a game to UNC Wilmington at Conferences and now surviving South Carolina (and a challenge from Virginia in quarters), are people selling stock on UNC?
  • No. 1 seed Northwestern took a hard path to the Great Lakes crown, getting upset by Chicago in pool play and going to the wire in an 8-7 semifinal win over Michigan. Gung Ho got an upwind break to take the semifinal over Flywheel. They burst into the rematch with Chicago in the final, taking a 7-2 lead and winning 9-5 to take the region’s only place at the Nationals table.
  • Metro East Regionals was rained out Saturday, so they got through pool play and quarterfinals on Sunday. Cornell, Columbia, Ottawa, and Yale remain in contention. See more in our Looking Ahead section.
  • #7 Dartmouth was pushed to the brink by #13 Tufts in a 15-14 New England final. Tufts’ close loss capped off a strong weekend for Ewo, who beat #14 Northeastern 13-8 in the semifinals. For their part, Northeastern edged #17 Vermont (11-10) and Harvard (14-12) in elimination games to take the third bid.
  • There were no challengers in the North Central for #5 Carleton, who cruised to a third straight regional championship. #15 Wisconsin finished second, earned in part to a 12-10 win over third place finisher, #10 Minnesota, in pool play. All three qualified for Nationals.
  • In what felt like a throwback to their championship season, #1 Ohio State devoured the competition at Ohio Valley Regionals. Their 13-5 victory over #12 Pittsburgh in the final was only in doubt for a second, as Pitt went up 2-0 before OSU went on a 9-0 run to take full control. Pitt had no trouble with Penn State on their way to taking the region’s second and final bid.
  • Going into South Central Regionals, the thought was that the rivalry of #9 Texas and #11 Colorado would take center stage as it had for the past three years. But Colorado College had other ideas, upsetting Colorado in pool play with a break on double game point. After Texas took down Strata in the final, they had a rematch with Colorado, and could not summon the same level of play. With a 13-7 win, Colorado claimed the last SC ticket to Nationals.
  • For the first time since 2013, the Southeast belongs to Georgia. They hadn’t even reached the regional final in the past five seasons. But they worked Florida 15-7 in the final and avoided playing any close games.
  • In the three bid Southwest, #2 UC San Diego wrapped up a second straight regional title with a dominant 15-2 win in the final. The team they beat, #8 UC Santa Barbara, had already qualified for Nationals with a 13-10 victory over #22 Cal Poly SLO in the first place semifinals. In the third place bracket, #19 Stanford was eliminated for the first time since 2008 at the hands of #16 UCLA and SLO survived a feisty peaking UC Davis. That set up another game to go for SLO, who fell in the same spot in 2018. They couldn’t do enough to get by UCLA, who took the last spot to Nationals by a count of 15-10.

D-III: Who’s Headed to Nationals

Mary Washington
North Park
Mount Holyoke
St. Olaf
Puget Sound
Lewis & Clark
Truman State
North Georgia

Check out our D-III focused podcast, the 7500 Club, for more on the division.


Here’s Who’s Headed to Nationals

North Carolina
NC State
Iowa State
Cal Poly SLO

Carleton Fails to Qualify While Iowa State Advances

In perhaps the most shocking result of Super Sunday, #4 Carleton failed to qualify for Nationals at North Central Regionals. The vaunted squad looked the part on the way to the first place semifinals, where they squared off with a plucky Iowa State team. CUT got up 5-2 before things evened out, and eventually, ISU broke to take half 8-7. CUT could never quite get back in front and ISU closed it out, 14-12, to send Carleton to the third place bracket.

Who else would await Carleton in a win-or-go-home matchup than longtime rival, #10 Wisconsin? The Hodags jumped all over Carleton, going up 4-1. And when I say ‘jumped all over’, it’s not just figuratively; things got contentious after some physical bids, including one that injured Carleton’s Ethan Bloodworth. Carleton was already playing without Joe White and Stanley Birdsong due to injury. After Wisconsin took an 8-5 halftime lead, they withstood a late Carleton run to win 13-11.

Meanwhile, #20 Minnesota somewhat quietly won the region in a close final against Iowa State. The 15-13 win earned them their third North Central championship in five years.

UMass Unable to Advance from New England

Even with #1 Brown a regional favorite in New England, a three-bid cushion felt like it gave #8 Massachussetts room for error and nearly locked them to make Nationals. But that’s why they play the games, as they say. While Brown performed as expected on their way to winning the region again, UMass’s results were not as predicted.

UMass started off rocky, giving up an 8-4 lead to Tufts in their tournament opener. They recovered, despite some rainy conditions, to win 10-9, and then comfortably worked through the rest of their pool to reach the semifinals. They faced #22 Northeastern, who took early control of the game and an 8-4 lead into halftime. Zoodisc fought back to make the final moments of the game extremely close, but they could not recover, falling on double game point, 14-13.

In the game to go rematch with Tufts, they gave up the first break. Although they earned one back, they were broken to go into the half 8-7, Tufts. Another EMen break extended the lead to two late, and with their backs to the wall, UMass could not come up with the answers. Tufts took it, 14-12, to advance to Nationals and end Zoodisc’s season.

Quick Hits

  • #2 North Carolina had little trouble taking a third straight Atlantic Coast regional title, but most attention was on the “will they or won’t they” of #15 NC State‘s flirtations with getting back to Nationals. After opening the tournament with an upset loss to Virginia, they caught a break to still win their pool on tiebreakers. They outdueled Maryland 14-9 to claim the final bid.
  • #18 Michigan claimed their third Great Lakes championship in four years with a dominating 13-4 victory over Indiana in the final.
  • Metro East Regionals only got up to semifinals. The top four seeds remain, with Rutgers facing Yale and Connecticut facing Cornell. For more, check out the Looking Ahead section.
  • It was a tense final between Northwest rivals, and #6 Oregon pulled out the double game point win over #11 Washington on a deflected pass to caught by Lukas Ambrose. Victoria beat Montana and Utah in third place bracket to advance to back to back Nationals.
  • Things aren’t settled in the weather-affected Ohio Valley. #7 Pittsburgh and #14 Ohio State are set to clash in the final. The loser will be sent to the backdoor bracket, joining Carnegie Mellon, Villanova, Penn State, and Ohio in the scrum for the last bid. For more, see our Looking Ahead section.
  • #9 Colorado continued a strong run of play, winning four straight in the single elimination format to win the South Central. After losing their then-division-leading 20-year Nationals qualification streak, maybe they’ve started a new one, with a 12-9 victory over #13 Texas in the final. That TUFF team, who lost star Noah Chambers to a leg injury in a tight semifinal against #19 Colorado State, beat Texas A&M 15-10 in region’s last game to go. Check out our recap for more!
  • After surviving a lot of potential spoilers, the Southeast Regional championship came down to the top ranked teams: #12 Central Florida and #21 Georgia. While UCF had the stronger regular season, UGA peaked at Regionals as they have so many times before. They took the title and the region’s one bid with a 15-12 win.
  • #5 Cal Poly SLO captured the program’s second Southwest Regional title with an undefeated showing, ending in a 15-8 victory against #17 California. Waiting for Cal in the backdoor game was a focused, but weary, #16 Southern California squad. Their matchup was dramatic, featuring big plays, including a high arcing greatest, and chances for both teams on double game point. But Cal found the end zone first to end USC’s season and send UGMO to Nationals for the first time since 2012.

D-III: Who’s Headed to Nationals

Michigan Tech
Air Force
Missouri S&T

Check out our D-III focused podcast, the 7500 Club, for more on the division.

Looking Ahead

Fitting given the regular season, the weather had to break up a few Regionals. The Metro East men’s and women’s regions each have one bid to battle for, with four teams per division prepared to meet again to decide things. The Ohio Valley men’s division has six teams in contention for two bids.

  • The Ohio Valley heads to Pittsburgh, where one of Pittsburgh or Ohio State will walk through the front door with a ticket to Nationals and a regional title. The loser of that final will drop down to face whomever emerges in the second place bracket. Carnegie Mellon draws in with Penn State, while Villanova and Ohio are set to face off. PSU is 1-0 versus CMU, with a narrow 11-10 victory at Conferences, while Villanova and Ohio have yet to meet.
  • The situation is murkier for the Metro East. Locations are still being determined in order to counteract more potential inclement weather.
    • In the men’s division, the top four seeds remain in contention. It’s been mostly smooth sailing for no. 1 Rutgers, no. 2 UConn, and no. 4 Yale, but no. 3 Cornell took a loss to RIT in pool play to mar their record. UConn, the reigning three-time champion, and Rutgers should be favored, though if they advance, Rutgers 12-6 regular season win over UConn stands as reason to believe the region could have a new champ.
    • On the women’s side, while the top four seeds are all alive, the bracket was shifted by a pool play upset. No. 4 Yale outscored no. 2 Columbia 10-8, sending Columbia to the other side of the bracket with no. 1 seed Cornell. Yale faces no. 3 seed Ottawa. Each team has had highs and lows during the year and the tournament, and it’s anybody’s game. Hopefully, attendance isn’t the deciding factor.
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