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2024 D-III College Championships: Day 2 Centering Pass (Men’s Div.)

2024 D-III College Championships: Day 2 Centering Pass (Men’s Div.)

 


The bracket brought real drama, but the two finalists mostly avoided it with solid play.

Max Caputo of the Richmond Spidermonkeys eyes a reception at the 2024 D-III college championships. Photo: Rudy Désort – UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworlds coverage of the 2024 final college season is presented by Ultimate Spin; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can help you and your team be at your best this season.

Welcome to Centering Pass, Ultiworlds articles covering tournament news and events you need to know about.

The final comes after an exciting day of intergroup matches that included upsets, wild comebacks and, above all, star-studded performances. It made for a memorable day. Read on for the day's high-profile stories, and stay tuned to our 2024 D-III College Nationals events page for updates, as well as streaming links for all live matches!

St. Olaf and Williams parade through the bracket

One thing was the same on the second day as on the first day: the two now finalists seemed well above the competition. Between them, only one final score line has been closer than four goals. Both won their pools and continued their momentum with strong performances in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, particularly in the second half.

Williams WUFO has been the cleaner team, mostly continuing a season where they only lost twice – once to quarterfinalist Middlebury and once to DI Nationals qualifier Ottawa. Their offense, anchored by Danny Klein and Wade Buchheit, was fluid and fearsome, winning big unders in the middle with Klein reinforcing huge hucks. The bold style they have played with all season did not fail them on Sunday. Charles Tantum was skying grabs, Klein was dropping backhand bombs and courageous scoobers into the wind, and the team's defensive intensity ignited at just the right moment. They turned two two-goal halftime leads into score lines of 15-10 and 15-11 against Franciscan and Richmond, respectively, sprinting to the finish line on defense.

The St. Olaf Berzerkers' run has been only slightly more uneven, although their overall record is also devoid of defeats. They narrowly escaped Bates in the first round of pool play and found themselves in a very close contest with Whitman in the quarterfinals, which at times made it seem like the 'Zerks had the bottom. But Eric Crosby Lehman's performance, which yielded two goals and four assists, helped his team emerge from a 6-6 tie to take control. In their semifinal against Oklahoma Christian, it was the spectacle of star Will Brandt, who had 10 points with seven assists and three goals in a contest where St. Olaf went on a 6-0 run to go back 9-4 and never looked back.

The final pits two Donovan nominees and All-American managers against each other. Klein had 14 assists and two goals in his two games on Sunday; Brandt's 10 assists and four goals were accompanied by some absolutely spectacular highlights, including this catch you're sure to see on replay.

Layout of Will Brandt's signature

The return

Richmond's return to the semi-finals seemed very far away this morning as they trailed Bates 13-8, nearly eliminated, but they rallied to win 15-14 over Universe. Much of the game was a zone battle, and Richmond's offense against Bates' defense seemed definitive. Richmond was flummoxed early, struggling to figure out how to move and attacking over the top with mixed success, with Bates' Zach Van Dusen making life difficult for the Spidermonkeys with his marking. But in the second half, they started using chisel cuts to suck in the defense and added more spacious moves to negate the zone's effectiveness. Jeffy Joshy, the team's leading scorer, played a particularly central role as a cutter.

On the other side, Bates' offense was built around Miles Miller and Daniel Snider. They combined for 11 assists in the loss, along with three goals. But another potential factor in weakening the Orange Whip's zone defense was the series of errors suffered in the second half during Richmond's run. These types of live turnovers make it much more difficult to set up effectively, a fact that has not escaped the Virginia club. Bates failed to cross midfield or force a turnover on his final three offensive points as Richmond stole the game.

Notes from the surroundings of the complex

  • Speaking of comebacks, Oklahoma Christian made a run of its own to knock off Great Lakes side program Davenport in the quarterfinals. The fateful stock-school showdown provided ample comic fodder for our Discord-bound fans, but it was the newcomers who took control late. Jacob Felton racked up nine assists and his picket-throwing act helped Davenport take a 12-9 lead. But the Eagles went on a 4-0 run, thanks to their deep play, to go up 13-12. OC managed a patient possession to survive Davenport's defensive pressure and ultimately gain the upper hand for the Universe points victory.
  • After nearly falling in Bates' zone, Richmond turned the tables on No. 1 seed Middlebury in the quarterfinals with an unwanted look of their own, using a flat wall to disrupt the Pranksters. Despite good games from Gavin Rice and Louis Douville Beaudoin, Middlebury, without a coach, struggled to develop an effective plan of attack. They relied on defense, perhaps succumbing to the pressure of a tight second-half game in which they never led. Richmond pulled away, scoring five of the final six points to claim the 14-10 victory.
  • The day's other dramatic contest took place between Northwest foes Whitman and Lewis & Clark. Each team had a point on either side of halftime – Whitman with three in a row to go up 9-6, Lewis and Clark with five in a row to take an 11-9 lead – but it was Whitman who made the last push of the match. Kai Kirsch, who needs to be firmly in the DPOTY conversation, got a layout block to save objectives and added bookends to force the universe, then added the game winner.
  1. Keith Raynor

    Keith RaynorKeith Raynor

    Keith Raynor is Editor-in-Chief and Head of Business Development at Ultiworld. He co-hosts our Deep Look podcast and does play-by-play and color commentary. He coaches UConn Rise, the college's women's team. You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@FullFieldHammer).

TAGGED: USAU College D-III Men's, Centering Pass, Centering Pass 2024, D-III College Championships, Daniel Snider, Danny Klein, Eric Crosby Lehmann, Jacob Felton, Kai Kirsch, presented by Spin Ultimate, Will Brandt

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