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

The bracket brought some real drama, but the two finalists mostly avoided it with strong play.

Richmond Spidermonkeys’ Max Caputo eyes a reception at the 2024 D-III College Championships. Photo: Rudy Desort – UltiPhotos.com

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Welcome to Centering Pass, Ultiworld’s articles covering tournament news and event stories you need to know.

The final is set after a rousing day of bracket play that included upsets, wild comebacks, and most of all, star performances. It made for a memorable day. Read on for the top level stories from the day and stay tuned to our 2024 D-III College National Championships event page for updates, as well as streaming links for all live games!

St. Olaf and Williams March Through Bracket

One thing was the same on Day Two as on Day One: the two now-finalists looked a cut above the competition. Between them, only a single final score line has been closer than four goals. Both won their pools and continued their winning ways with strong quarterfinal and semifinals performances, particularly in the second half.

Williams WUFO has been the cleaner outfit, mostly a continuation of a season where they’ve lost only twice — once to quarterfinalist Middlebury and once to D-I Nationals qualifier Ottawa. Their offense, anchored by Danny Klein and Wade Buchheit, was fluid and formidable, gaining big unders amidst Klein boosting massive hucks. The bold style with which they’ve played all season didn’t fail them on Sunday. Charles Tantum was making skying grabs, Klein was unleashed backhand bombs and gutsy scoobers in the wind, and team’s defensive intensity flared at the right times. They turned two goal halftime leads into 15-10 and 15-11 score lines against Franciscan and Richmond, respectively, sprinting through the finish line on defense.

St. Olaf Berzerkers’ journey has been only slightly spottier, even if their overall record is equally lacking in losses. They narrowly escaped Bates in the first round of pool play and were in a very tight contest with Whitman in quarterfinals that sometimes felt like the ‘Zerks had the lower hand. But Eric Crosby Lehman’s performance, which yielded two goals and four assists, helped his team pull away from a 6-6 tie to take control. In their semifinal against Oklahoma Christian, it was star Will Brandt’s show, as he accounted for 10 points with seven assists and three goals in a contest where St. Olaf made a 6-0 run to go up 9-4 and never looked back.

The final pits two Donovan nominees and All-American handlers against one another. Klein piled up a gaudy 14 assists along with two goals in his two games on Sunday; Brandt’s 10 assists and four goals came with some absolutely spectacular highlights, including this catch you are certain to see on replay.

Will Brandt Signature Layout

The Comeback

Richmond returning to the semifinals seemed very distant this morning when they were trailing Bates 13-8, all but eliminated, but they rallied to win 15-14 on universe. Much of the game was a battle between zones, and Richmond’s offense versus Bates’ defense felt definitive. Richmond was flummoxed early, struggling to figure out how to move and attacking over the top with mixed success, with Bates’ Zach Van Dusen making life hard for the Spidermonkeys with his marking. But in the second half, they began using chiseling cuts to suck in the defense and added more spacious swings to nullify the zone’s effectiveness. Jeffy Joshy, the team’s leading scorer, played a particularly pivotal role as a cutter.

On the other end, Bates’ offense was built around Miles Miller and Daniel Snider. They combined for 11 assists in the loss, along with three goals. But another potential factor in weakening Orange Whip’s zone defense was the series of second half miscues they suffered during Richmond’s run. Those types of live turnovers make it a lot harder to get setup effectively, a fact not lost on the Virginia club. Bates failed to cross midfield or force a turnover on their final three offensive points as Richmond stole back the game.

Notes From Around the Complex

  • Speaking of comebacks, Oklahoma Christian pulled off their own clutch run to knock off Great Lakes parallel program, Davenport, in the quarterfinals. The fateful matchup of scholarship schools provided ample comedic fodder for our Discord-bound fans, but it was the newcomers who looked in control late. Jacob Felton piled up nine assists and his tentpole throwing act helped Davenport build a 12-9 lead. But the Eagles made a 4-0 run, keyed by their deep game, to go up 13-12. OC managed a patient possession to survive Davenport’s defensive pressure and eventually get the clean hold for the universe point win.
  • After nearly falling to Bates’ zone, Richmond turned the tables on no.1 seed Middlebury in quarterfinals with a junk look of their own, using a flat wall to disrupt the Pranksters. Despite strong games from Gavin Rice and Louis Douville Beaudoin, the coach-less Middlebury struggled to draw up an effective plan of attack. They gambled on defense, perhaps succumbing to the second half pressure of a tight game during which they never led. Richmond rolled away, scoring five of the last six points to take the 14-10 victory.
  • The day’s other dramatic contest came between Northwest frenemies, Whitman and Lewis & Clark. Each team made a run on either side of the half — Whitman with three straight to go up 9-6, Lewis & Clark with five straight take an 11-9 lead — but it was Whitman who made the game’s final push. Kai Kirsch, who has to be firmly in the DPOTY conversation, got a goal-saving layout block and added bookends to force universe, and later tossed in the game winner.
  1. Keith Raynor
    Keith Raynor

    Keith Raynor is a Senior Editor and the Business Development Manager at Ultiworld. He co-hosts our Deep Look podcast and does play-by-play and color commentary. He coaches UConn Rise, the college's women's team. You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@FullFieldHammer).

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