34 College Women’s
Saturday and Sunday March 5-6
St. Louis, Missouri
Saturday’s pool play saw some challenging weather and terrain in high winds, 30 degree temperatures, rain in the morning and soggy, muddy fields. TD Sara Epstein explained just how much the weather was a factor: “We were lucky the field managers even let us play for the weekend because we completely tore up the fields,” said Epstein. “Michelle Ng and Without Limits planned a skills clinic for Saturday after the games, but unfortunately many people just wanted to get warm. The people who did want to stay though were very enthusiastic about it, and a few coaches stayed to lead a few different sessions.
For many teams this tournament served as the first opportunity to play outdoors this season.
In pool play games, it seemed as if the teams who knew how to handle the wind and cold were those that succeeded and games went as expected.
Of the power pools Pool A saw Wisconsin go 3-0 over a strong Colorado team which gave Bella Donna a run for their money in the 3rd round. Wisconsin captain Courtney Kiesow recapped the close game and the rough Saturday: “Colorado got the first upwind break. It was messy, but we got an upwind and then another one. The game went to hard cap, but we squeaked by 9-8. Saturday took a lot out of our team, with four players getting injured.”
Pool B housed two strong teams in Iowa and Northwestern GungHo. Beyond their head to head in which Iowa beat out Northwestern 10-5, neither team would see much challenge until deep into bracket play on Sunday.
Pool C went according to seed with Washington University trudging through to a 3-0 over Colorado College, Ohio State and Notre Dame. Ohio State put up a strong game against Wash U losing 8-10 by playing a lot of zone in the windy weather.
The other pools would fall essentially to seed with exception to some stellar wins by Carleton College’s B team in pool F.
The weather on Sunday cleared up quite a bit, with limited wind and 40 degree temperatures. “The vibe Sunday was much better- teams seemed more excited to play and in better spirits,” explained TD Epstein.
Of the 8am pre-quarters, one notable game was Ohio State vs. Wisconsin Eau-Claire, two closely matched teams. The strong hucks of Ohio’s Ivana Rosenblatt and captain Janine Walker’s offensive handling gave Ohio State the 11-7 victory.
Ohio State would go on to fall to always kicking Bella Donna team in quarters 10-5 but take 7th against Iowa State 9-8. “All of our rookies really stepped up this weekend, making difficult catches and getting returner-level D’s,” recalled captain Cassie Swafford. “Watch out for Paige (Diddy) Soper, who is a sophomore but a first-year player. She had several sick layout grabs and sky D’s and is quickly becoming an integral part of both our offense and defense.”
The rest of quarters saw 5th place finisher Colorado College fall to 3rd place finisher Northwestern 10-6 and Iowa beat Iowa State 13-4. The match-up of Washington University and Colorado found regional rivals and two of the tournament’s strongest teams duking it out for a chance at the semis. Though Wash U WUWU would take half 7-4, Colorado fought back to take the game 9-10. WUWU captain Abby Stephens recounted the game:
“We were fired up on Sunday and took half in the quarterfinals against regional rival Colorado 7-4, using great offensive flow to be efficient with our scores. However, I think the residual fatigue from Saturday, on top of a couple injuries leading to a small roster, took their toll, and Kali capitalized to get back into the game early in the second half. Soft cap went on at 9-7 WUWU, and while both teams had their chances, Colorado finished the job to win 9-10 in hard cap. It was of course a disappointing loss, and we didn’t quite bounce back to the intensity we had at the beginning of the weekend.”
WUWU saw big plays from Kate Wilson, Captain Sam Huo, cutter Kami Groom and handler Theresa Chan stepped up.
Semis would see Wisconsin squeak one by Northwestern 8-6 and Iowa come out big over a tired Colorado 10-6.
The finals saw two of the nation’s top teams Wisconsin and Iowa with a chance to prove themselves. With the wind absent and the sun shining, Wisconsin hoped to make quick work of Iowa taking an early lead of 5-2. But Iowa soon got their offensive flow going and injuries started to show themselves on the Bella Donna line. Iowa would score the next four points bringing the game to 5-6. The two would trade until 7-7 when the soft cap went on. Hard cap would blow during the long next point in which a disc thrown by Wisconsin hit an Observer resulting in a turnover which gave Iowa the chance to capitalize and the eventual victory at 7-8.
5. Colorado College