NEW LONDON, Conn. -- 2016 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Most Valuable Player Kelsey Millward (Pictured, Sr., Baie-d'Urfe, Quebec/Loomis Chaffee) earned her title with style by registering six goals to claim Player of the Game accolades and power the Division III No. 10-ranked Camels to a 16-9 defeat of Macalester College in the opening round of the CWPA Division III Championship at home in Jane Caldwell Lott '36 Natatorium.
The win puts the three-time (2013, 2014, 2015) and defending CWPA Champion Camels (13-6, 12-3 CWPA Division III) back into the semifinals of the tournament at 7:40 p.m. this evening as the squad will meet Carthage College. Connecticut College was 1-1 versus the Lady Reds of Carthage in falling 14-9 (at Carthage) and picking up a 14-5 win (at Penn State Behrend).
Connecticut was methodical in defeating the Scots of Macalester as the Camels outscored their Midwest foes 5-4, 2-1, 6-2 and 3-2 over the span of the four quarters to turn an early 1-1 tie with five minutes left in the first quarter into the eventual seven-goal final spread.
Millward opened the scoring with 5:32 left in the first quarter, but Macalester's Hannah Gray (So., Pasadena, Calif./South Pasadena) answered at 4:59 to balance the scoreboard at one-all.
Connecticut went back in front to stay 18 seconds later as Millward netted a man-up marker at 4:41 before Sam Pierce (Sr., Windsor, Conn./Looms Chaffee) lanced in an even-strength shot at 4:09 to put the Camels in front at 3-1.
Gray tried to put the Scots (3-19, 3-12 CWPA Division III) back in the black by beating Connecticut goalie Sarah Sovia (Jr., Pottstown, Pa./The Hill School) at 3:17 to close within 3-2. However, Abbey Wrobleski (Sr., Honolulu, Hawaii/Saline (Mich.)) responded in kind at 3:01 to inch the spread back to a pair at 4-2.
The teams continued to trade goals over the remainder of the first quarter as Natalie Hoffman (Fr., Seattle, Wash./Inglemoor) and Lucille Moran (Fr., Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron) of Macalester converted on even-strength chances at the 2:46 and 23 seconds marks to surround a goal by Pierce with 44 seconds on the clock for a 5-4 Connecticut lead at the quarter break.
Connecticut would lose and regain the lead for second in the second quarter as Gray finally pulled her squad even at five-all with 5:37 left until halftime. Needing a score to break the Scots' momentum, the Camels received a pair from Pierce (2:04) and Brianna Harrity (Jr., Jeffersonville, Pa./Germantown Academy) (26 seconds) to carry a 7-5 lead into halftime.
Pierce and Harrity's goals would turn the tide of the contest in a dramatic way as they ignited a 6-0 run by the Camels to make it 11-5 by the 3:30 mark of the third quarter.
Millward accounted for Connecticut's first three goals of the third quarter as the league MVP stroked in consecutive even-strength markers at 7:31 and 6:57 before rocking the cage on a man-up chance at 4:23 to double-up Macalester on the scoreboard at 10-5. Harrity capped off the run 53 seconds later with a natural tally at 3:30 to make it 11-5 and put the Scots in a hole from which they would be unable to climb out of prior to the final horn.
Hoffman attempted to spark a Macalester comeback by bombing a ball into the cage at 3:11, but Pierce answered with 36 seconds left on the quarter clock by converting on a power-play opportunity to make it 12-6.
The teams traded scoring shots over the final 16 seconds of the third frame as Gray cut the margin back to 12-7 with 16 ticks on the clock prior to Wrobleski beating Macalester goalie Emma Swanson (Sr., Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti) with one second to go for a 13-7 contest entering the fourth quarter.
Connecticut put the game away in the fourth quarter as Millward (5:37), Harrity (5:03) and Wrobleski (1:03) hit for back-to-back-to-back strikes to expand the lead out to nine at 16-7.
Macalester chipped the final spread back to seven in the final minute as Zexin Nai (Sr., Singapore/Hwa Chong) and Gray found the back of the cage with 38 and six seconds remaining, respectively, to close the gap to 16-9.
For Connecticut, Pierce and Harrity finished with four goals, while Wrobleski added a pair of strikes. Sovia picked up the win between the pipes with one save.
On the other end of the tank, Gray netted five goals. Hoffman added a pair and the duo of Nai and Moran each put away solo shots with Swanson taking the loss for the Scots in cage.
The loss places Macalester into the consolation side of the championship bracket as the Scots will face the loser of the Carthage-Monmouth opening round contest at 5:00 p.m. with a slot in the Fifth Place game on Sunday, April 17, on the line.
In the history of the CWPA Division III Championship, Macalester has placed fourth (2014, 2013, 2011), fifth (2015, 2012) and sixth (2010) as the squad will have a chance of continuing a trend of Top Five finishes.
|Macalester College (3-19, 3-12 CWPA Division III)
|Division III No. 10 Connecticut College (13-6, 12-3 CWPA Division III)||5
Connecticut Goals: Kelsey Millward (6); Sam Pierce (4); Brianna Harrity (4); Abbey Wrobleski (2)
Macalester Goals: Hannah Gray (5); Natalie Hoffman (2); Zexin Nai; Lucille Moran
Saves: Connecticut - Sarah Sovia (1) ; Macalester - Emma Swanson (0)
Exclusions: Connecticut - 7 ; Macalester - 9
Advantage Opportunities: Connecticut - -for-9 ; Macalester - -for-7
Sprints: Connecticut - 4-for-4 ; Macalester - 0-for-4
Officials: Brad Peavey, Jesus Mejia