D-III College Championships 2024: Final Recap (Women’s Div.)

Portland UPRoar claimed their first-ever title, battling through an early deficit and a four-hour weather delay

Portland UPRoar celebrate winning the 2024 D-III College Championships. Photo: Rudy Desort – UltiPhotos.com

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Portland UPRoar capped a decisive run through the D-III College Championships, where they only conceded one break until the final, with a 15-13 win over Carleton Eclipse. Despite an early 6-5 deficit, the first time Portland trailed all tournament, and a four-hour lighting delay, Portland’s stars showed out and powered UPRoar to victory. Carleton, like every team before them, couldn’t contain Portland’s captain and Donovan nominee, Julianna “JJ” Galian, as she found the end zone on 13 occasions, nine times with her throws and four with her superior cutting.1

Portland kicked things off with a clean hold, heavily featuring Hayden Ashley, Galian, Audrey Stineman, and Mallori Boddy as they would all game. Ashley collected her first of six scores on an assist to Stineman running Portland’s favored seven cut.

The next two points were also holds – though Carleton’s was not as clean – as the offenses showcased why their opponents had such trouble staying close with the powerhouses through the tournament. Carleton rolled out a poach off the reset handler to try and stymie UPRoar’s flow between Galian and Ashley, but the two were relatively sure-handed despite the volume of touches and happy to reset with each other or Stineman until either broke the cup with slicing insides.

Portland’s Stineman, Galian, and Ashley working against Carleton’s defense in the 2024 D-III College Championships final. Photo: Rudy DeSort – UltiPhotos.com

Disaster appeared ready to strike when Eclipse trotted out past the brick mark before realizing no one was back to field the pull. Molly Horstman Olson quickly dropped to pick up with Portland bearing down, and the pressure seemed to get to Carleton as a flick sailed over the intended receiver. But it somehow found the waiting arms of Maddy Brown and Carleton got to work dinking and dunking through Portland’s cup zone until Hazel DeHarpporte was in the end zone to keep the hold train running.

Despite messy ensuing points featuring incomplete hucks, the holds continued, neither defense able to string together passes on the counterattack. Finally, tied at 3-3, Portland blinked first, dropping the pull and giving Eclipse a short field they quickly capitalized on.

Portland trailed for the first time all tournament, and Carleton looked to build on the pressure by throwing a junky poach set that resulted in another UPRoar drop. Eclipse couldn’t make hay on that turn, but they did on the next when Brown read a floaty Dong backhand well to take the 5-3 lead.

“We weren’t playing UPRoar,” Galian shared. “Yesterday we were like, ‘We’re the team to beat and we can’t beat us either.’ [The first half] we weren’t playing like we know we can.”

Portland’s JJ Galian steps into a backhand during the D-III College Championships final. Photo: Rudy DeSort – UltiPhotos.com

Portland called a timeout to collect themselves, held cleanly, and quickly punched back when their own cup zone led to a Carleton drop. Carleton reset with a quick, clean point, capitalizing on breakside handler swings and trailing marks to find Dong in the end zone for 6-5.

That would be the last score for nearly four hours.

With Portland patiently working against Eclipse’s poaches and sags, play paused as Ashley snagged a low throw. Lightning was rolling in, and players and spectators quickly abandoned the turf as rain started drumming down. And down. And down. It didn’t seem it would stop as thunder shook the complex and the hours ticked by.

What do players do during such breaks? How do they stay mentally and physically fresh?

“I took a nap,” Galian said. “I was snoozin’, I had a dream!”

“We honestly just hung out,” Boddy added. “Just really took a break mentally so we could refocus easily and stay loving on each other and release all the nerves.”

It worked, because when play resumed Portland roared to life, punching in three in a row off blocks and Carleton errors to take half. Galian was involved in all three, scoring two with blistering uplines and throwing the assist to Ashley for another.

Carleton, for their part, kept the energy high by singing and dancing through breaks between points. Their enthusiasm was only matched by a crowd just slightly diminished after the delay and mostly comprised of players from fellow Northwest teams Lewis & Clark Artemis and Bacchus and Eclipse’s men’s division counterparts in Carleton CHOP. “When I root I root for the Northfield” and “Northwest, best West” flew between split stands, and CHOP seemed to know most of Eclipse’s cheers, echoing them back to the on-field players.

A shot of the crowd during the 2024 D-III College Championships final. Photo: Rudy DeSort – UltiPhotos.com

Eclipse met the crowd’s energy with a blisteringly fast, five-pass score out of half, with Horstman Olson shooting early and long to record Carleton’s first point since the lightning delay. To try and keep the momentum and stifle Portland’s flow, Carleton came down in a cup zone, but no one crashed with Galian into the cup. She launched an unpressured backhand dime to Boddy, showing anything Eclipse could do, UPRoar could do better.

Carleton Eclipse’s Rowan Dong rises above a pack for the catch during the 2024 D-III College Championships final. Photo: Rudy DeSort – UltiPhotos.com

Carleton got turns – often from Dong in the deep space – and found themselves with multiple opportunities to punch in a break throughout the second half, but too often threw it away on discs overly floaty or far. Eclipse occasionally operated in a vert stack with the reset coming from the front, and the handlers forced throws more than once when they found themselves trapped on the sideline or Portland’s smothering downfield defense ran the stall count up.

Eclipse had the potential to lead if they could minimize the throwaways, and notably their two breaks in the latter stages both came when the D-line offense avoided mistakes. The tension rose when they brought the score to 14-13. Carleton had Saraniti pinch in to deter unders and try to snag the turn that would force universe, but Portland calmly worked the disc down the middle of the field and, fittingly, hit Galian on a seven cut to bring home Portland UPRoar’s first title.

While Carleton were undoubtedly hoping for more than a second consecutive silver medal, the final berth caps a successful year and impressive showing for a team who entered seeded no.8. Eclipse’s legacy as one of the division’s most heralded teams is sure to continue in 2025, when players like Saraniti, Brown, Horstman Olson, and Alyssa Alvarez come back with another year of skill and determination.

But 2024 is Portland’s, and they’ve been building towards this peak for years, eager to summit what they merely tasted in the 2021 National final. “We’ve been dreaming about being back in the final since 2021 Norco,” Boddy said after the win. “I might be a little bit in shock. I am just over-the-moon happy and excited and proud of this entire team, and all the work we’ve put in since August.”

  1. This after a superb semifinal performance, which saw Galian dish or score 14 of Portland’s 15 scores 

  1. Theresa Diffendal
    Theresa Diffendal

    Theresa began playing frisbee in 2014 at Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh. Having lived all over Pennsylvania, she’s settled at the moment in Harrisburg with her partner and plays with the mixed club team Farm Show. She received her BA from Bryn Mawr where she played with the Sneetches and her Master’s from the University of Maryland.

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