The final three bids to Nationals will be awarded this weekend.
May 6, 2022 by Michael Ball in Preview with 0 comments
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Back in their traditional early-May slot for the first time in three years, there are few more exciting portions of the ultimate calendar than spring College Regionals. For some, these events will be the culmination of their season — or even college career — while for others it’s just another step on their path toward the College Championships. Count on plenty of dramatic action and unexpected results along the way as every team fights to ensure they fall into the latter group.
With the women’s field set and a majority of the men’s bids already spoken for, we’re down to the final two D-III Regionals in 2022. Who will capture the final three invitations to Milwaukee?
Location: Glen Allen, VA
Nationals Bids: 1
While not quite to the level of the South Central, the Atlantic Coast has their own case to be made for the size bid allocation not properly reflecting the strength of the region. Three teams in our top 25 will be competing for just one bid, and with those top three teams having a mixture of results against each other, it’s truly up for grabs.
The top seed this weekend is #10 Navy Poseidon. After qualifying for Nationals in the fall and having to decline their bid, Poseidon have picked up where they left off with a strong spring. Navy started off their season with a 5-2 showing at FCS, only losing to Nationals qualifiers Berry and Oberlin and picking up a win over regional rival Richmond. They picked up a second win over the Spidermonkeys as well as one against Christopher Newport on their way to a victory at Conferences that paved their way to the top seed in Glen Allen. Max Benedetti, Anthony Armad, and the rest of Poseidon should take care of business handily against Davidson and Elon in pool play and feel confident about their chances in the bracket.
The next two seeds, facing off in pool B, are #12 Christopher Newport Skymaul and the #11 Richmond Spidermonkeys. A steady presence in the bottom half of the region for years, CNU burst into national relevance for the first time in 2022. Skymaul are a big, athletic team that keep their opponents uncomfortable with a variety of defensive looks. Charlie Baird, Sean Walsh, and Will Yaglou are as good of a trio as any in the region. CNU split their two games against Navy at conferences and actually have the advantage on point differential. Could Skymaul’s breakout season continue with a trip to Nationals?
The team with the highest ceiling in the region is certainly Richmond. The Spidermonkeys have shown that their best ultimate is national semifinal quality, with a win over Berry at FCS and a double game point loss to St. Olaf at Rodeo. Liam Day, Alex Pistolesi, and Chester Todd form one of the best offenses in the country when they’re firing on all cylinders, Brett Schoppert and Casey Hepburn are excellent defenders, and Calvin Ciorba is one of the best freshmen in the division. But the Spidermonkeys are 0-2 against Navy this season, losing both at FCS and Conferences. If they see Poseidon a third time, will they get over this mental hurdle?
While the rest of the region is unlikely to contend for the bid to Milwaukee, there are no weak teams in the field this weekend. Davidson only lost to Navy by one at FCS, and Elon is a program with a strong pedigree of peaking at regionals. Mary Washington took Navy’s place at Nationals in the fall, and while they lack depth, their star power will keep them in every game this weekend. Marcelo Ruggiero and Beau De Koninck will be able to play a lot of points, thanks to a format that only requires four or five games for each team. With steady wind and chances of rain in the forecast, any of these teams are capable of catching fire and upsetting one of the top three teams.
Location: Madison, WI
Nationals Bids: 2
This might be the most straightforward regional tournament in the entire division. A national championship contender and another top ten team are the heavy favorites to take the two bids Milwaukee, with the rest of the field being a considerable distance behind the top two teams.
After losing on double game point in the national semifinals in the fall, the #2 St. Olaf Berzerkers have bounced back with a vengeance this spring. The Berzerkers are 9-0 this season, including a win over defending champs Middlebury in the final of Rodeo.1 Will Brandt is one of the best players in the division, Ben Fjetland-Souza is as good of a center handler as you’ll find, and Luke Bleers is an elite defender. St. Olaf won Conferences with ease, including a 13-6 win over #9 Carleton CHOP, and should win the region at a trot.
Speaking of CHOP, the Hawaiian-clad crew from Northfield have the best Nationals qualification record in the division, and they should add to that record after this weekend. While a ways off from St. Olaf at the top, Carleton are still much stronger than the rest of the field this weekend and should comfortably take the second bid to Nationals. Zach DiNardo, Colby King, and Chris O’Mara were all excellent at Nationals in the fall, and CHOP have established themselves as a program that reloads, not rebuilds. Expect their usual depth to see them through in the game-to-go against an opponent that’s had to battle their way through the backdoor bracket.
The rest of the field this weekend will most likely be competing for third place. None of the other teams have a resume that signals any chance to contend against the top two teams. The team with maybe the best chance are the Grinnell Grinnellephants, who enter as the no.4 seed. The Grinnellephants have a handful of wins over solid D-I teams and only one loss to anybody in the field; however, that loss came against CHOP at Conferences, and by a four-point margin. It would take a huge leap forward for Grinnell to turn that around into a bid to Nationals, but if things go to seed, they’ll get two chances to pull off the upset.
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