NEW LONDON, Conn. -- Kelsey Millward (Fr., Baie-d'Urfe, Quebec/Loomis-Chaffee) of Connecticut College scored twice in the fourth quarter to complete a hat-trick and claim Player of the Game honors as the No. 8-nationally ranked Camels won the program's first league championship with a 6-3 victory at home in the Jane Cadwell Lott Natatorium over No. 10-ranked and three-time defending league champion Grove City College.
Facing the Wolverines for the third team this season after splitting the regular season series, the Camels came out with a defensive mindset to shutdown the high-powered Grove City offense and make it a game of attrition.
Connecticut lit the scoreboard up first slightly over a minute and a half into the game as Millward split the defense for a blast into the cage with 6:26 remaining on the period clock.
The goal was the only tally until the 2:38 mark of the second quarter as the teams combined for six ejections and a five-meter penalty shot during a span of 11:48. During the nearly 12 minutes of scoreless water polo, Grove City failed to finish on four six-on-five chances, while the Camels could not execute on a pair of exclusion opportunities and a five-meter penalty shot.
Grove City finally broke the scoreless string and knotted the game up at one-all with 2:38 remaining in the second quarter/first half when Millward went to the corner with her first ejection. The Wolverines took advantage of the extra-man chance by finding Lauren Burrows (Jr., Canton, Ohio/GlenOak) down low for a point blank man-up tally and the issuance of a yellow card to Connecticut head coach JJ Addison.
However, a desperation heave by Tournament Most Valuable Player Nicky Jasbon (So., Greenacres, Fla./Saint Andrew) as the period clock expired drew nothing by net and put the Camels in front to stay at 2-1 entering halftime.
The margin expanded to 3-1 less than three minutes into the third quarter as Kristin Lampley (Sr., Reading, Pa./Governor Mifflin) beat goalie Amanda Johnston (Sr., San Luis Obispo, Calif./San Luis Obispo) high with 5:51 on the clock to make it 3-1.
Grove City had a chance to chip away at the lead as Jasbon was called for a penalty at 4:58, but the ensuing shot was saved by Camels' goalie Pamela Lovejoy (Sr., Guilford, Conn./Hopkins School) to preserve the lead.
Connecticut once again enlarged its lead at the 1:09 mark as Isabelle Baneux (Fr., Ithaca, N.Y./New Trier) banged in an exclusion chance to make it 4-1 entering the final period of competition in the Division III season.
Following consecutive ejections of Ciara Beaulieu (Fr., Windsor, Conn./Suffield Academy) and Millward at the 7:45 and 5:52 marks of the fourth quarter, respectively, the went from a nailbiter to strange as Addison received a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct to leave the Camels without a coach on their bench. Assistant Coach Ryan Pryor, who received a red card with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter of Connecticut's 8-7 semifinal win against Washington & Jefferson College, was serving a one-game suspension per National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Rules, leaving no declared coaches or administrators on the bench to start the clock on a forfeit.
Per the NCAA Rules, under Rule 7/Referees on Page 29, "A coach or other team official or player receiving a red card must leave the bench and may sit in the spectator stands during the remainder of that game, but may not communicate with the team, team officials or referees by any means until after the duration of jurisdiction of the referees. Further misconduct by an excluded player, coach or other team official could result in a forfeit. The assistant coach assumes the rights and privileges of the head coach when the head coach receives a red card during a game."
"There must be a representative of the institution available to oversee the team when the head coach has received a red card and is excluded for the remainder of the game. Eligible institutional representatives may be declared along with the roster of players before the game, either on the program, if available, or on the scoresheet. If an institutional representative was not declared before the game, a reasonable amount of time (two minutes) will be allowed for an institutional representative to become available on the deck to assume coaching responsibilities. Interpretation: The head coach, assistant coach, athletic trainer, strength coach, athletics director and faculty representative are examples of individuals who may serve as the institutional representative. If the sole institutional representative for a team is the head coach and that coach receives a red card, the game will be declared a forfeit by the referee. The institutional representative may not be an undergraduate student nor an adult without official institutional responsibilities."
Following a ten-minute delay to find an institutional representative, Connecticut College assistant athletic trainer Daniel Siopa assumed coaching responsibilities and is credited as the official winning coach, per NCAA standards, for the game and championship.
The change on the bench, however, had little impact on the Camels' offense as Kate Jacobson (So., Collegeville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) swished a shot at 3:49 to make it 5-1 before Millward converted a six-on-five chance at 3:06 to push the lead out to 6-1.
Grove City attempted to rally back with natural markers by Ashley Parks (Fr., Westerville, Ohio/Thomas Worthington) and Burrows at 1:22 and 34 seconds, respectively, inching the Wolverines within the 6-3 final score.
Burrows led the way for the three-time defending league champions with a pair of goals, while Parks chipped in a solo score. Johnston took the loss, her first in four years of Division III tournament play as the Wolverines fall to 50-3 all-time in Division III league and postseason action, with 10 saves.
For Connecticut, Jasbon, Baneux and Lampley aided Millward's Player of the Game output with single tallies. Lovejoy earned the victory between the pipes with six saves.
The championship marks the first league title for the Camels in the sport of water polo (men's or women's) and the first championship game appearance for the institution in the sport. In the history of the sport at the New London, Conn. college, the Camels had never finished higher than third at either the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Eastern Championship for men or the Division III Championship for women.
Further, the Camels make history in more ways than one as the win over Grove City advances Connecticut to the 2013 CWPA Eastern Championship at the University of Michigan in two weeks (Friday-Sunday, April 26-28)
It is the first time in league history that a Division III team advances to the CWPA Eastern Championship as the league membership elected to advance the tournament champion to the event featuring the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Brown University, Bucknell University, Gannon University, Mercyhurst University, Hartwick College, Notre Dame College, Harvard University, Princeton University, George Washington University and during the organization's Annual Meeting last June.
Overall, Connecticut is now 2-1 against Grove City this year as the Camels shocked the Wolverines 11-9 on April 5 at Carthage College in league play to snap a 24-game conference winning streak dating back to April 18, 2011 when Grove City fell to Carthage 10-7. The win avenged a 7-5 loss by Connecticut to Grove City on March 22 at Penn State Behrend.
For Grove City, which hammered Connecticut 13-3 at home on the way to claiming the program's third straight league crown last year at home, the Wolverines are now 3-1 in Division III title tilts having defeated Carthage (2010 - 8-7 W at Macalester College) and Washington & Jeffersonc College (2011 - 7-2 W at Utica College / 2012 - 10-3 W at Grove City) in the three prior Division III Championship games.
The loss also ends the Wolverines efforts to become the first varsity women's team in the CWPA to claim four consecutive league titles since Slippery Rock University (1988-to-1996).
|No. 10 Grove City College (12-8, 12-2 CWPA Division III)
|No. 8 Connecticut College (17-6, 13-2 CWPA Division III)
Connecticut Goals: Kelsey Millward (3); Nicky Jasbon; Isabelle Baneux; Kristin Lampley
Grove City Goals: Lauren Burrows (2); Ashley Parks
Saves: Connecticut - Pamela Lovejoy (6) ; Grove City - Amanda Johnston (10)
Exclusions: Connecticut - 9 ; Grove City - 9
Advantage Opportunities: Connecticut - 2-for-9 ; Grove City - 1-for-9
Sprints: Connecticut - 1-for-4 (3rd) ; Grove City - 3-for-4 (1st, 2nd, 4th)
Cards: YC - Connecticut College head coach JJ Addison (2:38 left in 2nd); RC - Connecticut College head coach JJ Addison (5:44 left in 4th quarter)
Officials: JR Perez, Vern Heimbigner