D-III College Championships 2024: Day One Centering Pass (Women’s Div.)

Pool Play wrapped up with chaos in pool C, but all other pools went mostly as expected

Colorado College’s Mia Smith throws against Middlebury in the chaotic pool C during the 2024 D-III College Championships. Photo: Rudy Desort – UltiPhotos.com

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MILWAUKEE, WI – Pool play is wrapped up after 24 games in mildly windy conditions. After several hard fought games and a handful of upsets, the bracket is set with interesting seeding matchups while a Nationals favorite is knocked out of contention.

Portland and St. Olaf Roll Atop Pools A and D

Two title favorites, Portland UPRoar and St. Olaf Vortex, proceeded through the day relatively unchallenged. Portland in particular had a dominant day, with their closest games being 15-6 victories over both Wesleyan and Mount Holyoke. UPRoar was led by the two household names, Julianna Galian (8G/14A/9D) and Hayden Ashley (10G/11A/5D), but also got big contributions from Mallori Boddy (7G/1A/5D), Audrey Steinman (2G/10A/4D), and Morgan Bridges (2A/5D). With such control over each of their games today, Portland played through a huge amount of their roster, with 16 players recording a goal, assist, or block on the day.

Elsewhere in Pool A, Wesleyan scraped out a victory over Mount Holyoke to finish 2-1 and second in the pool. Wesleyan was down against Daisy Chain for most of the game, but got some momentum with the score at 9-7, scoring multiple back-to-back marathon points before taking a 13-11 victory. Wesleyan was especially strong defensively in the red zone in the second half of this game. Mackenzie Bunnell (3G/2A/2D), Scout Noble (4G/7A/7D), Maggie Brown (2G/5A/3D), and Sofia Canoutas-Nadel (8G/3D) put together strong performances to power Vicious Circles to the bracket. Mount Holyoke got big contributions from Jamie Eldridge (2G/12A/3D) and Eva Taberski (10G/1A/5D) en route to their 1-2 finish.

St. Olaf had a slightly more eventful day over in Pool D. Featured on streams in two of their three matchups in pool play, Vortex were clearly unfazed by the limelight. While their closest game of the day on paper was a 15-9 win over Wellesley, St. Olaf was in the driver’s seat the entire game after recovering from being down 3-2 early in the first half. Vortex rattled off four in a row and never looked back with big contributions from Ellie McDonald (3G/5A), Erica Collin (3G/1D), and Emily Mulhern (1G/5A).

St. Olaf breezed past Occidental before taking on Haverford/Bryn Mawr in the awaited 4v5 matchup. Vortex came out of the gate strong, going up 4-1 before Haverford/Bryn Mawr’s defensive zone started clamping down. Defensive adjustments saw Amy Tse (1G/3D) take away handler chisels and slow down Vortex’s flow. The game featured some long points that went each teams’ way, but Vortex went into halftime up 8-6.

The Sneetches looked like they might mount a comeback but Vortex had other ideas, going on a six-point run to close out the game 14-6. On the day, Vortex relied heavily on Mulhern (2G/13A/4D), Grace Milhaupt (1G/8A/2D), and Leina Goto (2G/3A) in the backfield with McDonald (7G/8A/1D), Erica Collin (9G/3A/3D), and Juliana Eno (3G/1A/7D) lighting up the downfield space. That left Haverford/Bryn Mawr to finish solid second place with decisive wins over Wellesley and Occidental. Sneetch star Zoe Costanza (9G/8A/9D) did it all, with big impacts from captain Tse (4G/4A/5D), Phoebe Hulbert (8A/11D), and Sonia Nicholson (1G/2A/9D).

While Wellesley didn’t have the day they were hoping for, they certainly shouldn’t be counted out at this point. The stars on the team have done what they need to, and a semi-favorable bracket position keeps this team in the hunt. The Whiptails distributed responsibility incredibly well today with absurdly open lines. A few lesser known players who stepped up big today include Raquel Alegria (1G/3A/6D), Emma Feldman (2G/7A/1D) and Addie New-Schmidt (2G/1A/5D).

Carleton Shows the Power of Resume

Questions surrounded the Union Jillz and their strength of schedule leading into the tournament. With almost no high level D-III competition this season, did Union truly deserve the no.2 overall seed? This question was decisively answered today by none other than Carleton Eclipse. Eclipse had a phenomenal day, coming out strong in all games including a 5-0 start en route to beating Lewis & Clark 15-7 and a commanding 7-2 start in their 15-6 win over Union. With these strong victories, Eclipse marked themselves as truly one of the teams to beat and are a favorite to make a deep bracket run. The stat sheet surprisingly doesn’t show the level of dominance from Rowan Dong (2G/11A/11D) and Frankie Saraniti (9G/2A/6D). Essentially every point featured a Dong under cut with a continuation throw to Saraniti, epitomized by Dong unleashing perfectly weighted 50+ yard hucks, one backhand and one flick, to throw Saraniti open in the end zone. Outside of those two, Eclipse got big contributions by committee, including Elizabeth Swanson (7G/1A), Sasha Monks (1G/5A/3D), Maddy Brown (4G/1A/1D), and Molly Horstman Olson (1G/2A/6D).

Union had a tight path to second in the pool with a 15-13 win over Lewis & Clark in their first game of the day. After taking half 8-6, Union looked in control up 13-9, but Artemis had other ideas, going on their own 4-1 run to push the game to 14-13. After getting broken in back-to-back points, the Jillz tightened up and sealed the game out. The Jillz had huge day 1 efforts from essentially uncoverable Tori Green (3G/13A), Claire Ward (7G/7A/2D), and Anna Forbes (6G/4D).

Lewis & Clark couldn’t replicate their success versus Union against Carleton, coming out flat early. While they had second half success to make the game a respectable 15-7 loss, Artemis were clearly the third-best team in the pool. Lewis & Clark had contributions from every player on their Nationals roster save one, but standout performances include Josie Fenske (1G/8A/7D), Mikah Keetch (2G/7A/3D), Amelie Steer (9A/4D), and Katelyn Osborne (5G/1A/1D).

The Madness That Was Pool C

Now for the exciting pool, Pool C. With four teams all peaking at the right moment, every game in this pool was a barn burner from start to finish and decided by three points or less. Middlebury and Macalester opened up the excitement, trading blows for the first dozen points to tie the game 6-6. The Pranksters turned it on at this point, going on a three-point run to make the game 9-6. The Pursesnatchers were unable to overcome the deficit, although they did find some late game life with a break before Middlebury closed it out with a 14-11 win.

In our other showcase game, Colorado College found themselves in an unfamiliar position early when Davenport broke out with a 5-1 lead. Colorado College clawed back to take half 8-7, looking to wrest control of the game with strong momentum. They continued this in the second half, going up 11-9 before Davenport took over and punched in three straight to win the game 12-11. This late game crumbling would be indicative of Colorado College’s day.

In the second round, Middlebury struck back after finding themselves down 3-2 early in the game and held a commanding two point lead over Colorado College, widening that margin in the second half. Davenport’s matchup against Macalester, on the other hand, featured high winds and plenty of turns from each team’s respective star players. Claire Lee (1G/1A/7D) had 21 turns for the Pursesnatchers while Davenport’s Lanie O’Neill (1G/2A/1D) turned it over 20 times. Macalester rallied during half to find some energy and shut out Davenport in the second half, breaking twice to get the 8-6 victory and recover from their earlier loss to Middlebury.

In the final round of this tumultuous pool, games technically went to seed but in very close fashion. Macalester pulled out a 12-10 win over Colorado College in a game of runs while Middlebury knocked off Davenport 13-11, going on a commanding 4-2 run to close the game out after it was tied at 9s. When the dust finally settled, Middlebury found themselves in familiar but unexpected position at the top of the pool while Macalester and Davenport advanced to prequarters matchups in the bracket. Sadly for our South Central fans, Colorado College, a favorite to make a title push, was on the losing end of all three games and was eliminated from contention.

While these teams don’t feature a ton of household names, each team clearly has its stars. The Pranksters were led by Keziah Wilde1 (6G/11A/3D), Harriet Dahlstrom (6G/4A/3D), Avery Goldstein (8G/2A/1D), and Sarah Rifkin (3G/6A/2D). For Macalester, they relied on Lee (3G/8A/20D) heavily, with Lee racking up 50 turns on the day. Other contributors for the Pursesnatchers include Sophie Diliberti (6G/2A/4D), Sophie Carpenter (4G/3A/1D), Else Gerber (5G/4A/3D), and Dorthea Trelstad Pi-Sunyer (4G/2A/5D). Our third place team, Davenport, had key contributions from handlers O’Neill (3G/13A/7D) and Yasmin Banares (2G/8A/10D) as well as their primary dynamic receiver Leilani Lepe (5G/5A/5G). Finally, Colorado College relied on Casey Shaw-Merrigan (10G/9D), Sabine Blumenthal (1G/5A/3D), Sophie Roback (3G/6A/4D) and Cassidy Recker (6A/3D) in their tough day.

  1. Who only had 11 turns, which cannot be said for some of our other Pool C stars 

  1. Anna Browne
    Anna Browne

    Anna Browne is a writer for the D-III Women's Division. She has been playing competitive ultimate since 2019, spending her college years at Michigan Tech. Anna is based in Detroit, Michigan where she plays in the Women's Club Division and coaches the Michigan Tech Superior Ma's.

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