The 2014 spring season is really heating up as it nears its end, and a lot has changed in the Skyd Power Rankings for the nation’s D-III women’s teams. As usual, things change quickly and unexpectedly in this division, so stay tuned for more rankings this season.
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#1 Truman State “TSUnami”
Next weekend TSUnami will head to the Chicago Invite, following two perfect performances at HUX and Midwest Throwdown. Currently 9 – 0, Truman State’s record is reminiscent of last year’s champions, Bowdoin. Chaos Theory went undefeated throughout the entirety of the spring season before clinching the title at the D-III Championships, and this year might just be Truman State’s turn to do the same. With their quick pick-ups, dynamic handler movement, and well-executed layouts TSUnami makes it difficult for opponents to keep up. The major players leading the charge on this team include Stephanie Sherman and Juli Dworak, and their impressive bidding and vertical pressure makes every Truman State game an edge-of-your-seat experience.
#2 Rice “Torque”
A major threat to TSU’s number one spot is Rice, who also plays in the South Central Region. Rice started off the spring with a bang and hasn’t looked back since, winning both D-III Warm Up and Big D in Little D and earning a close second place at Houston Antifreeze. A major aspect of Rice’s success this season lies in the very capable hands of the Rice captains Monica Matsumoto and Erika Danckers. An uncanny ability to read the disc coupled with their speed and unstoppable hucks puts every opponent on defense–almost permanently. Rice continued their whirlwind of a season at Centex, where they easily swept pool play and continued to the 17th place bracket where they finally lost a game against Colorado State and ended the tournament 18th out of 39 teams. That loss marks only Rice’s second loss of the whole spring season, bringing Torque to an astonishing 26 – 2 record.
#3 St. Benedict “Bad Habits”
St Ben’s went undefeated at High Tide in Atlanta, Georgia after facing up against fellow D-III competitor Kenyon in the finals. With that tournament under their belt, the Bad Habits are next looking to the Chicago Invite, where – depending on the results of pool play – we may get to see the intimidating likes of Erynn Schroeder and Kaylee Matthews face up against other top D-III players from Truman State, St. Olaf, and Valparaiso. This team has an amazing squad of handlers, an overall scrappy mentality, and pride themselves on being able to “pull the trigger” to intensify their level of play when it really counts.
#4 Claremont “Greenshirts”
The Greenshirts maintain their high placement in this ranking because they show consistency and depth throughout their team roster. At Midwest Throwdown, Claremont had two tough match-ups and finished 2-2, but the Greenshirts continued to play a clean game against all opponents, whether they presented them with difficult or easier match-ups. However, the absence of captain and major playmaker Tasha Arvanitis was definitely felt in the fluidity of handler movement on the field. Claremont isn’t planning to attend any more tournaments before their Conference Championships, and this training period before sectionals will likely be a definitive period for this SoCal team to work to keep their energy, athleticism and excitement up over a non-frisbee filled spring break.
#5 Bowdoin “Chaos Theory”
Bowdoin entered the spring competitive season by bringing home first place from “Bring the Huckus.” With close competition coming only from Columbia and Haverford, Bowdoin appears to have re-entered the D-III women’s scene in full force after their championship win last year. It’s notable that after a pool-play loss of 7 – 8 against Columbia, Chaos Theory was able to adjust effectively and bounce back for the win in their rematch during the finals, easily taking the game 13 – 7. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Chaos Theory at their upcoming spring tournament, New England Open, to see how the reigning champs continue to set themselves up before the series.
#6 Williams “La Wufa”
Williams has a busy spring break schedule having just played at River City Lights and looking ahead to Garden State next weekend. After a lull in tournament attendance since their early February appearance and 9th place finish at “Big D in Little D,” these two consecutive tournaments will likely be important indicators of La Wufa’s team and strategies for this year. Williams made it to the semis at River City Lights, and took their revenge in a rematch again West Virginia to win third place after losing to them the day before. This upcoming weekend at Garden State includes six other D-III teams for Williams to match up against–many of them previous Nationals attendees. Led by seniors Meg Clark, Emma Rouse and junior Chelsea Zhu, La Wufa boasts a cutting line primarily composed of talented rookies. Watch out for these new players to bring a fresh sense of spontaneity to Williams’ game both in New Jersey and in the series against power programs Bowdoin and Bentley.
#7 Carleton “Eclipse”
Following their start-of-season third place showing at D-III Warmup, Eclipse next planned to attend Midwest Throwdown in St. Louis. However, in light of the tragedy that struck their community that same weekend, the team elected to return to campus to support one another and honor the memories of their friends and teammates. Now on spring break, Carleton headed down south to win first place at Southerns, staying undefeated the whole weekend by upsetting Virginia Tech 13 – 8 during pool play and winning both the semis and the finals on universe against South Florida and Emory, respectively. After watching Eclipse occasionally struggle in the cutter line to make effective cuts against Rice and Claremont, the results of this spring break trip indicate that Eclipse has made some careful adjustments to their offensive technique and emerge stronger than ever.
#8 Bentley “WoBus Salt N’ Peppa”
This spring, Bentley had a lot of fun and worked on their endurance at the overnight tournament, “Boston Midnight Madness.” WoBus still faces tough competition from their regional neighbors Bowdoin and Williams, but it still remains to be seen just how contentious those match-ups will be come Northeast Regionals. Additionally, their well-established B-team program is a good sign for the growth of the Bentley women’s ultimate program in the long run. This weekend, Bentley competed at the small tournament, “Casual Huck,” getting second place after New Hampshire, and then will head to the New England Open next weekend for some more difficult intra-regional opponents, including Bowdoin.
#9 Elon “Wild Rumpus”
Elon has had a very successful tournament showing at both the “Ashevillian Invite” and “Virginia is for Layouts,” ending their pre-Series season with a 10-4 record. As the team heads into the series, it’s notable Elon Rumpus has a lot of power in their youth members, including freshman Catie Ryan and sophomore Kerianne Durkin. Even as underclassmen, they are a few of many younger Elon players who are beginning to come into their own as on-field leaders. With a seamless ability to break a cup and versatile roster of players who both cut and handle, Elon has set themselves up well to go into their Atlantic Coast Conferences and Regionals.
#10 Haverford “Sneetches”
Haverford has made it back onto the Top 16 list after plowing through “Bring The Huckus” at the beginning of March. In a nail biter of a game, the Sneetches lost in the semis to Bowdoin on universe point 12 – 11 and finished the tournament in third place. Next, Haverford is off to leave it all on the field at Garden State and are seeded first in their pool. The Ohio Valley region is looking especially contentious this spring, and as Conferences and Regionals grow ever nearer, Haverford will have to look out for upsets from a whole host of competitors, including Oberlin, Messiah, Kenyon, and Lehigh. We may see a preview of some of those matchups this weekend in NJ, with both Messiah and Oberlin playing there. With a third place finish at the 2012 D-III Championships, Haverford has the history, developmental B-team program and dedication to get there again. Now, all that’s left to do is to wait and see.
#11 Valparaiso “Chicks Hucking Discs”
Valparaiso drops down to the number 11 spot after both some tough losses and an occasional lack in intensity and accuracy at Midwest Throwdown. However, don’t count Valpo out. Led by Teryn Gehred and Erin Watkins on the handler line, Ellen Guisfredi is an incredibly snatchy cutter who is always looking deep when her opponents least expect it. Valpo will head back up to the Chicago Invite next week to defend their first place title. There, they’ll face up against 31 other women’s teams, including many strong D-I teams, and Skyd can’t wait to see the results of this huge and dynamic tournament.
#12 Georgia College “Lynx Rufus”
Lynx Rufus has spent the majority of their spring season so far taking on tough games against difficult southern D-I opponents. Their record of purely Division I matchups makes it difficult to perfectly compare Georgia College with the rest of D-III, but the close-scoring games does make it clear that Georgia College doesn’t lose a game without a fight. This weekend at “Southerns” Lynx Rufus played tough and emerged 5th place out of 19 teams. After beating several D-III opponents at Southerns, it seems that Lynx Rufus has finally been given a common denominator with the rest of Division III and have proven their deserved prominence within these rankings.
#13 Wake Forest “Ruckus”
After last year’s near miss of a D-III Nationals bid, this year may very well be Ruckus’ year to get to Natties in Westerville, Ohio. After definitively beating Mary Washington at “JMU Bonanza,” it seems that Wake Forest has a great chance to steal the Atlantic Coast’s second strength bid to Nationals from Massacre. The team is led by Hannah Simpson and Danielle Walsh, who are both dictating forces on the field. Wake Forest is heading to “I-85 Rodeo” on March 29th before they meet Elon and Mary Washington in the fight for the D-III Natties bids.
#14 Puget Sound “Clearcut”
After maintaining seed at a tough D-III Warmup tournament, Puget Sound played at the “PLU Picnic” where they took 3rd place after a hard-fought comeback against Portland State. An important aspect of Clearcut is their consistent ability to bring surprises on the field. They play with a scrappiness that can sometimes appear disorganized until a cutter like Becca Ebert appears out of nowhere to make a play on the disc. Puget Sound next heads to the Northwest Challenge developmental division, then on to the Conference Championships after having a lot of experience with and success against the other D-III teams in their conference.
#15 Grinnell “Sticky Tongue Frogs”
Grinnell has worked their way back onto this list after maintaining pretty impressive results throughout a busy spring tournament schedule. Currently, the Stickies currently hold a 9-5 record against other D-III entities including Truman State, Harding, Swarthmore and Davidson. This year Grinnell has split A and B–always a good indicator of the strength of a school’s program–and the A team is led by Eva Metz and Kirsten Nelson, who both scored big at 2013 Natties . After not being able to make Midwest Throwdown due to concerns about driving conditions, the Sticky Tongue Frogs will next play at their stacked North Central Conference Championship. Definitely tune in for that dramatic tournament in mid-April, which will no doubt include tough battles for the three bids to D-III Nationals between Grinnell, Carleton Eclipse, St. Benedict, St. Olaf and Luther.
#16 SUNY Oneonta “Love$eat”
While it’s been a tough season weather-wise for the East Coast, SUNY-Oneonta’s Love$eat is looking forward to their Conference Championships and facing up against rivals such as Buffalo and SUNY-Cortland. This spring marks the return of captain and club player Shannon Crystal, who was a defensive knockout at 2013 D-III Nationals with 26 D’s throughout the tournament. Additionally, Love$eat brings the aspect of height to the field. With Crystal, Rhiannon Spencer and Mary Viscio all close to 6 feet tall, they pose both serious deep threats as well as being a challenging matchup for nearly every mark they come up against.