The 2014 competitive season has come to a dramatic end in the D-III Women’s division, and 16 teams have earned bids to the national showcase of small-school women’s ultimate. While some teams are regulars at D-III Nationals, others–including the one and three seeds–are making their first ever appearances on the national stage, and this new group of teams guarantees that this year’s championships will be like no other. Stay tuned for Skyd Magazine’s articles, tweets and video coverage of the 2014 D-III Championships (sponsored by Spin Ultimate), because Westerville is going to host quite a show.
Rice “Torque” (1)
St. Benedict “Bad Habits”(8)
Elon “Wild Rumpus” (12)
Georgia College “Lynx Rufus” (13)
Rice University Torque, the first seed overall, is expected to sweep Saturday pool play. While St. Benedict’s talented and athletic roster has the potential to make them work hard for the win, Rice will likely still be fresh following games against Elon and Georgia College and is expected to maintain their top seed position without trouble.
Games to Watch
Round Three: Rice v. St. Benedict
The strength for both of these teams lie in their incredibly dynamic handler lines, and so the game will likely go to whichever team is most effective on defense. One of the most dynamic player match-ups at the tournament will be between Rice’s Monica Matsumoto and St. Benedict’s Erynn Schroeder. Last year’s championships saw Schroeder throw the third highest number of assists in the whole tournament (29), and this WJUC alum has only improved over the past year of training and competing. Over the season, Matsumoto has emerged as the keystone player on Rice: a playmaker on offense with precise throws and unbeatable handler movement. But, if Schroeder’s intense defense is able to shut down Matsumoto’s puts to her nearly six foot co-captain Erika Danckers in the endzone, there could be an upset in the making.
Round Three: Elon v. Georgia College
This game is poised to be quite scrappy. Both Elon and Georgia College comes to the table with young rosters after a lot of turnover in this past year, and while Elon’s spring record is noticeably better than Lynx Rufus’, a critical part of Georgia College’s game is perseverance. A notoriously savage or almost-savage team in the past, Georgia College brings an underdog mindset to each game they play, and Elon will have to play an accurate, aggressive game in order to get the win and keep their 12th seed.
Truman State “TSUnami” (2)
Valparaiso “Chicks Hucking Discs” (7)
Carleton College “Eclipse” (11)
Hamilton “Hot Sauce’hers” (14)
TSUnami’s aggressive defense and clean upfield movement are unlikely to be stopped by their competitors in this pool, and they are expected to sweep through Saturday. This year, Truman State is looking to be a contender in the finals after a history of quarterfinals losses in past appearances. After defeating SUNY Oneonta for the Metro East bid to nationals, the Hamilton Hot Sauce’hers will be playing at the championships with only eleven players on their roster and while they looked tough at Regionals, they will likely also go to seed during pool play. However, watch out for a potential upset from Carleton when they take on the Valparaiso CHDs. Expect this pool to be intense on defense, with Truman State’s Stephanie Sherman leading the way in layout bids and Lucinda Robinson (Eclipse) and Carly Crave (Valparaiso) always staying tough in the endzone.
Game to Watch
Round Two: Valparaiso v. Carleton
Valparaiso, seeded first at the championships in 2013, has experienced a lot of turnover and has a rookie-heavy roster this year. While their new roster does include new talent, the scrappy Chicks Hucking Discs could run into some trouble against the well-honed, clean style of play that Carleton brings to the field. An awesome handler match-up in this game will be between Carleton’s Claire Leichter and Valparaiso’s Teryn Gehred. Both of these ladies have their huck game down to a science and crack down hard on defense.
Wake Forest “Ruckus” (3)
Claremont “Greenshirts” (6)
Bowdoin “Chaos Theory” (10)
Wooster “Betty Gone Wild” (15)
Wake Forest and Wooster are two of the teams making their first-ever national debut at this championship tournament. Wake Forest is seeded third overall and first in Pool C, above two former championship teams: Claremont and Bowdoin. You can bet that Chaos Theory and the Greenshirts will be clamoring to break seed against Ruckus and claim a spot in the championship bracket. Wooster “Betty” is expected to keep seed during pool play, but their tough zone and athletic defense will make their competitors work hard for a win.
Games to Watch
Round Two: Claremont v. Bowdoin
Here we have two veteran teams who are bringing a very different energy and team to the field this year than they have in the past. This season, reigning champion Bowdoin focuses on their inside game and has been working to develop their team as a whole to establish a new style of play for the Chaos Theory of this year. Claremont’s strengths include their quick on-field flow and Marianna Heckendorn’s exuberant and aggressive handling. However, the Greenshirts are coming into the championships a player down: Tasha Arvanitis, Claremont’s captain and playmaker is recovering from ankle surgery and her loss will be felt immensely by her team. Skyd predicts that this will be a clean, exciting game to watch, but if weather permits Claremont to play their well developed huck game we expect that this expanded range of play will let Claremont keep seed and come away with the win.
Round Three: Wake Forest v. Claremont
Wake Forest Ruckus is a fairly new team that has grown and improved exponentially with each year of competition since its “refounding” in 2012. This year, Wake Forest’s strength lies in their sheer athleticism and silly attitude which captains Amelia Fatsi and Lindsey Soo have helped to cultivate within their ranks. The matchup between Ruckus and the Greenshirts will bring together two very differing styles: a speedy, scrappy bunch of athletes recently-turned-ultimate players and a highly strategic, well-established Claremont team. The winner of this face-off will really depend on which team is more flexible and can best adapt to the changing conditions and strategies over the course of this game.
Haverford “Sneetches” (4)
Harding “Sky Bisons” (5)
Williams “La Wufa” (9)
St. Olaf “Durga” (16)
With the exception of Williams and Haverford, Pool D has teams that are not yet considered D-III Nationals “regulars.” Haverford and St. Olaf have fought their way back to attend Nationals after undergoing rebuilding years for their programs in 2013. Watch for both these teams to have developed connections between players and quick flow on the field. This is also the first year that the Harding “Sky Bisons” have qualified for Nationals. Their captains cite a defining reason for their success this season is due to positive team chemistry–on and off the field. Williams has attended Division III Nationals every year since 2011, and through those tournaments La Wufa has cultivated some stand-out athletes who have improved each year through their appearances at the National Championships.
Games to Watch
Round One: Haverford v. Williams
While this game is a match-up between the fourth and ninth seed, it may not be as predictable as one might expect. Haverford’s commencement exercises conflict with the tournament, and so the “Sneetches” will not be at their full roster for the entirety of the weekend. Minus a few seniors or not, Haverford is a consistent and spirited force to be reckoned with. Fern Beetle-Moorcroft and Adriana Cvitkovic’s deep and break looks can leave the whole field open for the taking; that is, unless Williams can interrupt their flow. While having graduated most of their previous height, La Wufa is very speedy this year with players like Charlotte Flemming tirelessly leading their cutting line. With that talent and the valuable experience of their three previous nationals appearances, Williams could interrupt the Sneetches’ flow in pool play on Saturday.
Round Three: Haverford v. Harding
Harding will make their D-III Championship debut after their best season in program history, and they have big dreams in store for their first natties appearance. Sophomore Brooke Rice has a big presence in the Sky Bisons roster, pulling every point and scoring lots of them as well. However, Harding does have a deep roster with several strong handlers and cutters that will match up well with Haverford’s top players. Both teams come to the field with precise offense and a persistent ability to always play high quality ultimate. Therefore, we predict this Round Three matchup to be one of the tournament’s most exciting, edge-of-your-seat games of Saturday.
Five Players to Watch
– Monica Matsumoto, Rice
– Erynn Schroeder, St. Benedict
– Claire Leichter, Carleton Eclipse
– Stephanie Sherman, Truman State
– Marianna Heckendorn, Claremont
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