D-III College Championships 2022: Pool D Recap (Women’s)

A round one matchup between Wellesley and St. Olaf wound up deciding the pool.

Anna Sivinski had a big day for Lehigh at the 2022 D-III College Championships. Photo: William 'Brody' Brotman -- UltiPhotos.com
Anna Sivinski had a big day for Lehigh at the 2022 D-III College Championships. Photo: William ‘Brody’ Brotman — UltiPhotos.com

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Pool D has long been pegged as a tough set of teams, and it lived up to the billing, especially with no.9 seed St. Olaf proving they were underseeded. Vortex returned to Nationals with an outstanding Saturday, upsetting Wellesley to reshape the pool. Here’s what went down.

Vortex Rolls Through Pool of Death

Coming in as a pool three seed after previously finishing third and first in their last two Nationals appearances, St. Olaf had a lot to prove. As the no.9 seed, they found themselves in arguably the most competitive pool in the women’s division. Their motivation coming in helped them out as they went 3-0, winning the pool. In all three games, they traded points early with their competitors, but after the first few breaks were scored, Vortex used the momentum and went on runs. For two of the games, the first few breaks were a nail in the coffin for their competitors.

But it was their opening game against Wellesley that was their toughest challenge and the game that decided which team would get a bye into quarterfinals. In a game that was projected to produce different results, the Minnesota team more than held their own against the no.4 seed. At certain points during the game each team went on scoring sprees; Vortex would get several breaks to increase their lead and then Wellesley would take a turn to tie things up. As an effect, the game came down to double game point. St. Olaf received to start the point and, despite pressure from the Whiptails defense, worked the disc efficiently down the field for a clean hold that won the game.

Vortex as able to rely on the poise of their stars when they were challenged in the difficult pool. Anna Mulhern delivered offensive firepower from the backfield, but brought the most to Vortex with her vocal leadership on both sides of the disc. Star Anna Clements stacked up five goals and ten assists as a frequent feature in the offense. The defense benefited greatly from the play of Erica Collin. And in addition to powerful player leadership, St. Olaf’s coaching staff was engaged and the team seemed quite bought in.

Saturday’s undefeated showing puts St. Olaf into the quarterfinal round, on the side of the bracket with Middlebury, the team that eliminated them in the semifinals of the 2021 D-III College Championships.

Wellesley Strong After First Round Stumble

Entering this tournament, the no.4 Whiptails were the top in their pool, coming off a strong showing at Regionals. Their first game was against #11 St. Olaf. Perhaps the Whiptails weren’t expecting such a difficult task out of the gate as their reward for being placed on the first line Pool D. St Olaf pulled ahead and Wellesley wasn’t fully able to reclaim the lead.

Their following game came with pressure from Lewis and Clark. However, Wellesley was able to quickly set themselves apart and went on a run of goals to open things up. In the end, they only allowed the team from Portland to score four points against them. The final game for Wellesley was against no.5 seed, Lehigh. By that point, the Whiptails built up too much steam, and cruised past a solid opponent with a 15-7 final score.

Wellesley got a huge day out of Savannah Cary, who dominated the field whenever she was on. She made an array of big plays over the course of the day. Another player who was one of the top scorers all day was Barbara Dolan, who ran down and properly read every deep throw on the way to seven goals, three assists, and five blocks.

Lehigh Languishes Against Strong Pool D

Lehigh Gravity, led ably by handler Anna Sivinski and her quick backfield movement, came out strong against no.16 seed Lewis and Clark. Their stifling defense and patient offense ensured a low-scoring game for their opponent. They hit the gas in their first game and didn’t let up until the very last point, one of their longest points of the day, but one they scored to finish the game on a 3-0 run.

Coming into their next game, Gravity was confident, having a comfortable win in their pocket. Unfortunately for them, their opponents, St. Olaf Vortex, also came off a big win. While their confidence carried them through the first few points, where Lehigh traded holds with Vortex and went on to score the first few breaks of the game, it didn’t hold up. as soon as their opponents caught up with them, Gravity could not match the raised stakes. Combine this with increased wind conditions and dropping temperatures, things became tiresome for the team from Pennsylvania. With their momentum draining, they fought against their closest-seeded opponents, but lost hard 15-7.

Young Lewis and Clark Learning on the Job

Lewis and Clark came in with a lot of heart and love for the game. As a team, they spent this season as a rebuilding year. Because of Covid, most of their players came into this season having never played before, which makes their appearance at Nationals that much more impressive. However, the newness of the team showed, as they raked in the unforced turnovers. Yet, they still put up a fight. They started the day off playing against no.5 seed Lehigh. Artemis was not able to get on the board until the fifth point of the game. As the game progressed, they were able to find a rhythm through the Gravity defense, but they lost power in the end, losing 15-6. Their other two games looked no different: starting out strong but quickly losing momentum.

Despite the losses, Aretmis had several people worth paying attention. Lauren Prichard made huge plays on defense and had a solid overall performance. Speaking of playing well on all ends, Mikah Keetch was Lewis and Clark’s star of the day. With their defensive action and strong offense, they became a standout despite the team’s record. One other standout of the bunch was the team’s coach, Christine Beaulieu, who provided support, walked through plays on the sidelines, and just talked with her players to ensure they felt supported even as they faced a tough pool in an intimidating environment.

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