With Regionals weekend 1 in the books, it's time to recap who punched their ticket to Ohio!
May 5, 2023 by Fiona "Scotti" Nugent, Theresa Diffendal and Zack Davis in Recap with 0 comments
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Twelve teams earned their place at Nationals last weekend, and we’re here to break down all the wild results.
Schedule & Results
Location: Glen Allen, VA
Number of Bids: 1
Bid Earner: Catholic
Claiming the last spot in our Top 25 Power Rankings and the Atlantic Coast’s sole bid to Nationals, Catholic easily swept the competition at ConfRegionals, proving there truly are Nun Betta in the region. They went 3-0 in pool play with a score differential of +37. At 13-3, Mary Washington put up the closest fight and proved to be the second-best team, meeting Catholic again in the final. But the second chance was not enough for the Mary Massacre, and Catholic punched their Nationals ticket with an 11-6 victory. Nun Betta became the third different team to win the Atlantic Coast in the past three years, flipping the script after Mary Washington ended Catholic’s season last year.
Catholic ended their short season with a 4-6 regular season record, with two of those wins coming against Mary Washington, the only D-III team Catholic faced before the Series. Nun Betta will be relative unknowns coming into Nationals, and while they could surprise a team or two, their lack of experience (the only two-day tournament Catholic attended was Bonanza back in March) could just as likely be an obstacle they’ll need to overcome.
Wheaton tried their best to play spoiler, but in Knox and Wheaton’s fourth showdown this season, Knox took the win and the Great Lakes’ Nationals bid in a rain-shortened ConfRegionals final, 4-2. This marks back-to-back region titles for the Alley Cats, while Wheaton are relegated to runners-up for the third year in a row. Nola Watson and Kali Christopher were difference makers in Knox’s run, with Nola getting a handblock and assisting on Knox’s last three points in their 9-7 pool play win against Wheaton, the closest game Knox played all tournament. Currently unranked in our Top 25, Knox similarly have no wins against ranked D-III teams, though they did notch victories against Grinnell, North Park, and Wheaton during their 5-4-1 regular season. Last year was the Cats’ first ever trip to Nationals, where by their count they were the only team without both a paid coach and two full lines of players. We’ll see what they can bring in their second go-round against the division’s best.
CATS ARE GOING TO NATIONALS!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/3nOCI54JDD
— Knox College Ultimate (@Knox_ultimate) April 16, 2023
Talk about a turnaround. After going winless at at Regionals last year, Wesleyan Vicious Circles upset number one seeded Ithaca Kweezy to claim the Metro East Region and book their ticket to Ohio by the slimmest of margins, 8-7. Wesleyan’s tighter run through pool play possibly aided in the pressure cooker situation that is a universe point final, as Wesleyan’s score differential through the semifinal was +20 compared to Ithaca’s +43. Despite their number one seed, Ithaca were on a bit of a fairytale run, purportedly making it to the final on the backs of just nine players and no coach. Both Wesleyan and Ithaca were also pushed by SUNY-Geneseo, who lost to the finalists by three in the semifinal and two in pool play, respectively.
The Vicious Circles finished with a 6-7 regular season record, including one win over a fellow D-III team, Messiah. Their lone match against a ranked D-III team, a close 8-5 loss to #8 Mount Holyoke, could provide a vital piece of experience as Wesleyan gears up for their first Nationals trip since they last won the Metro East in 2019. Captains Tenley Abbott, Adina Chasan-Taber, and Margaret Heffernan will be key defensive stoppers, while Nat Sweet has risen to the challenge of being a rock-steady handler as just a sophomore.
— Vicious Circles (@divacupzone) April 30, 2023
#3 Carleton Eclipse continued their successful season by absolutely crushing all challengers in their path to a third-straight North Central title and fourth-straight Nationals bid. The closest game Eclipse played all tournament was a 15-4 win over Michigan Tech in pool play, and they made sure to let everyone know even those four points were a fluke by demolishing the Superior Ma’s 15-1 in the final the next day. The Series marked the first time all season Eclipse matched up against fellow D-III teams, and their +63 tournament scoreline showed the results of Carleton pushing themselves at tournaments like President’s Day Invite, where they notched wins over UCLA, Texas, and D-I Nationals qualifiers Colorado State. At #3 in our Power Rankings, look for Carleton deep in the Nationals bracket, and possibly even the final, as all but one of our staff predicted in the preseason.
#18 Michigan Tech and #5 St. Olaf round out the other qualifiers, both of whom had to go through Winona State to earn their bids, with St. Olaf rebounding from a 9-4 loss in pool play to Winona State to beat them in the game-to-go, 10-6. Michigan Tech must feel particularly vindicated after missing Nationals last year at the hands of Winona State in the game-to-go to the game-to-go. St. Olaf end the season with a 21-6 record, including wins over D-I teams like Purdue and Marquette and a close 9-8 universe point loss to Middlebury at Needle in a Ho Stack, the closest any team has played the reigning D-III champs all season. Michigan Tech similarly picked up victories over D-I Loyola-Chicago and D-III Wheaton en route to their 11-6 season.
The Northwest went to chalk, with Portland UPRoar sweeping through all competition to claim the region’s first Nationals bid while the newly-D-III Whitman Sweets fended off Lewis & Clark in a tight 10-8 game-to-go. The final between the Sweets and UPRoar was a lopsided 15-1 affair in favor of Portland to win the region for the third year in a row, but presumably Whitman were resting their legs as the two teams had a close game of their own in the first round of pool play, with Portland eking out the 11-10 victory.
UPRoar finish the season with a sterling 19-2 record, their only losses coming to Cal Poly-SLO and a Pacific Lutheran alumni team. To their credit, Whitman’s three losses in their 14-3 season all came at the hands of Portland, with two decided by just one point, a clear sign of the strength of the region and a burgeoning rivalry. Their trip to Ohio marks Whitman’s first trip to D-III Nationals and first appearance at any Nationals since 2018, where they went winless. At #4 and #9, Portland and Whitman both ended the season inside our Power Rankings top 10 and will be expected to be contenders in the Nationals bracket. Portland especially will be looking to build on their two recent successful Nationals campaigns, making quarterfinals in 2022 before losing to eventual finalists Wellesley and getting all the way to the final in 2021.
With one bid on the line and a last minute location change, the Ohio Valley teams had to scramble to plan to play their Regionals 450 miles away from where they previously planned. 2022 Nationals attendees Haverford/Bryn Mawr and Lehigh were seeded first and third respectively, with Ohio Conference winner Cedarville seeded second. These teams have had strong seasons, but the Sneetches have by far been the most dominant.
Cedarville Queen Bees showed their chops, pushing #7 Haverford/Bryn Mawr to universe and making them break twice to win after the Sneetches were down 9-7. Haverford/Bryn Mawr went on to beat Oberlin twice in row to meet Lehigh in the final. In their seventh – yes seventh – matchup of the season, Lehigh gave as good as they got, going up a break early and looking like they would notch their second and most crucial victory. But the Sneetches fired off four straight scores of their own in return and rode that lead down the stretch to a 7-5 finish. Following their Regionals win, Haverford is going into Nationals with a 23-4 record, and while their multiple victories over #16 Lehigh and a 13-2 drubbing of #20 Ithaca are their only wins against currently ranked D-III opponents, close losses to Dartmouth (10-9) and Bates (9-7) show their ceiling’s height.
The Sneetches will be looking to build upon a strong showing at Nationals last year, where they lost only to Carleton Eclipse in pool play and made a run to the quarterfinal – their strongest showing since a third place finish in 2014 – before running into the Middlebury buzzsaw. But even in the loss there were accomplishments, as they kept Middlebury to the fewest goals of any team – just 12 – and only lost by four, the Pranksters’ closest margin of victory all tournament. They went on to take Portland to universe point in the fifth place bracket, falling one short to end in a tie with regionmates Lehigh. Haverford/Bryn Mawr have been a mainstay in our Top 10 throughout the season, and we’ll see if playmakers like Lindsey Hua, Phoebe Hulbert, and Zoe Costanza (who’s getting All Region nods from teammates and opponents alike) can power these star-bellied Sneetches to even greater Nationals heights – perhaps flipping the script in a Middlebury rematch?
Schedule & Results
Location: Houston, TX
Number of Bids: 1
Bid Earner: Colorado College
It took two universe point wins, but Colorado College Zenith fended off challenges from Rice and number one seed Trinity to go undefeated at South Central ConfRegionals and claim the region’s sole Nationals bid. Zenith is the second team – in addition to Whitman – to switch to D-III this year and make Nationals.1 Zenith went 4-0 in pool play, winning three of their games by 11 or more goals. Their only real challenge came from #11 Trinity Altitude, who roared back from an 8-5 halftime deficit2 to make it 8-7 before time cap ended Altitude’s comeback hopes.
Trinity wouldn’t get a chance to fight for the bid they earned, falling to Rice 11-7 in the semifinal. #17 Rice Torque, meanwhile, went on to deal Zenith a much closer game than the 15-4 thumping they received a day earlier in pool play. But Zenith would not be denied, leading wire-to-wire and closing the door on Torque’s season, 9-8. Colorado College’s victories over #11 Trinity and #17 Rice marked their first wins over ranked D-III opponents in their 17-8 season, as they’d previously lost to #9 Whitman 7-5 at Snow Melt, #10 Winona State 7-1 at Midwest Throwdown, and #1 Middlebury 13-5 at Women’s Centex. This will be Colorado College’s first trip to D-III Nationals, and first Nationals in any division since 2016, and those experiences against top-ranked opponents will come in handy.
One final note: Truman State, a historical force in the region, finished last, a first for the three-time South Central winners, marking a true changing of the guard.
#22 Berry came in to Decatuar and won the only game they needed to. In fact, the only game they played. Once again the D-III women’s tournament in the Southeast consisted of just two teams: Berry and Union. This year’s contest was a bit closer in comparison to last year’s, ending 14-12. Berry came in as the second seed this year, having only played one tournament. That tournament was Needle in a Ho Stack, which was cut short due to inclement weather on Sunday. #15 Union by comparison played at three tournaments this year, including that very same tournament. Tough for them to go out, do the work, earn the bid, only to have it snatched out from under them in one game. Berry, however, do the work when it matters and punch their ticket to Nationals for the second year in a row.
In a tale as old as time, #19 Occidental and #14 Claremont faced off in the their third and most important matchup of the season: the Southwest ConfRegionals final. Yet in contrast to their prior meetings, Occidental WAC proved Charlie’s “you can’t beat the same team three times” adage correct and flipped the script on Claremont to take the Southwest’s lone Nationals bid. Despite being the reigning region winner, Occidental consistently ranked behind Claremont in our Top 25 rankings once the season got underway. But after two 7-6 losses to the Claremont Greenshirts in the regular season – their only losses to another D-III team – Occidental took command in the sole Southwest ConfRegionals game, leading wire to wire after jumping out to a 2-0 start. Occidental enter their fourth-straight Nationals with a 12-5 regular season record, including wins over fellow D-III team Pacific Lutheran and a dominant undefeated showing at Southwest Showdown.