This preview and the 2014 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate.
As the season begins to heat up, seven D-III women’s teams will make their way to sunny Riverside, California for D-III Warmup. A D-III specific tournament, Warmup is a unique opportunity to see the lay of the land purely within the tier of Division III teams. Skyd is thrilled to report live from the inaugural year of D-III Warmup’s women’s division and is excited to watch it grow in the future.
This weekend as a part of the Skyd College Tour (sponsored by Spin Ultimate) two women’s correspondents (Zoe Bluffstone and Margaret Rosano) will take to the sidelines to record the first look into D-III Women’s for 2014. In this tournament that brings together teams from the Southwest, North Central, South Central and Northwest, we’re looking to see which region’s defining plays and strategies come out on top. Watch the tournament unfold on Score Reporter.
Here are the top five games at D-III Warmup that we think could define this year’s D-III Women’s competitive season.
Round Three: Carleton Eclipse vs. Claremont Greenshirts
Claremont will fight to defend their home turf and first seed when they face Carleton Eclipse in their second game on Saturday. Ranked 2nd and 4th in Skyd’s preseason power rankings, both Carleton and Claremont have seen several of last year’s key players graduate and now have a very different team composition than last season. Our guess is that playing a more balanced and reliable roster over star power will be key to winning this game. Handlers like Marianna Heckendorn of Claremont and Kalli Perano from Eclipse will need to focus on accuracy and communication–because very few points will be won easily in this tough pairing. Both teams have a threatening deep game with Tessa Bertozzi’s (Claremont) sticky fingers and the aggressive Julia Reich (Carleton Eclipse). These two are both experienced cutters with two Natties appearances under their belts–they’ll likely match up against each other in exciting ways when these two top teams come head to head this weekend.
Round Five: Rice Torque v Carleton Eclipse
Rice enters this tournament relatively untested against these D-III all-stars, and looks to make a statement as a small school with a powerhouse ultimate program. After going undefeated at Big D in Little D, Rice comes into this tournament looking to provide players with more experience in new positions, but they’d also like to emerge victorious from most matchups in order to teach the rookies the style and fierce attitude of the program. Eclipse, hot off their January roster cuts, will prove a tough challenge for this Texas team. A school renowned for its ultimate chops, Carleton will no doubt bring intensity to this 2 v. 3 seed game. While Eclipse celebrates their goofy attitude (they went to a fall tournament dressed as their favorite Pixar characters – pics please!), they know how to grind it out and focus to get the win. Look for the speedy Senior Eclipse defender, Lucinda Robinson, to be making the plays against Rice’s trusted junior receivers, Erika Danckers and Maya Stokes.
Round Five: Puget Sound Clearcut vs. Lewis and Clark Artemis
University of Puget Sound and Lewis and Clark have both played each other several times in program history, most recently in the game to go to DIII Nationals in 2013, in which UPS Clearcut eked out a 9-6 win (though they did not end up making the trek to Milwaukee). Word from other teams in the region indicates that UPS has brought in a lot of new talent this season, though L&C Artemis has also cited a strong rookie class as a force they hope will drive them to another game-to-go come regionals. Expect this game to be the battle of the knowns and the unknowns; two teams, familiar with each other’s strategies, anticipating how new players have changed their opponent’s system. Late in the day at Riverside, the battle of these old rivals promises to be an exciting match to watch.
Round Six: Claremont Greenshirts vs. Rice Torque
Both the Greenshirts and Torque regularly play against teams from large D-I programs such as UC Santa Barbara and Texas A&M, respectively. No strangers to being the underdogs during the fall season, Sunday’s first game is likely to highlight this through sheer intensity and scrappiness from both sides. This game will probably showcase some big plays on defense, especially from the Greenshirts’ Neha Vaingankar and Kaitlyn Anderson and Rice rookies Kelsey Nanneman and Julie Doar. While this will probably be a close game, Skyd predicts that a well-rested Claremont will likely come away with this win on their home turf.
Round Six: Occidental Air Corps v Redlands Jillalopes
Early Sunday will also see two on-the-cusp D-III programs ready to set a tone for the region that could play out during the championship series. A D-III nationals qualifier in years past, Occidental Air Corps graduated a significant chunk of their team last year and is looking to rebuild with a contingent of 12 returners and 8 rookies. Expect rookies Gemma Lurie and Laurel Cheever to make a statement on the field about what the future of Oxy’s Air Corps will hold. Redlands Jillalopes similarly graduated a few of their more experienced players, although they remain involved in the program, sharing their knowledge of the game with the developing team. We expect the Occidental WAC to maintain the edge in this matchup, but this game is an important one to watch for those interested in the future of the Southwest.
Many thanks to contributor Margaret Rosano, a player and coach from California who volunteered her help and expertise for this preview. Feature photo of Claremont by Brandon Wu, Ultiphotos.com