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Final picks: March 19

To paraphrase the announcer from the 1992 film “A League Of Their Own” prior to the championship game at the end of the movie:

Saturday night in Plattsburgh, one team will leave the rink Division III women’s champions and one team will just leave the rink.

Top-ranked Plattsburgh, coming off a 5-3 win Friday over Middlebury, will play for the championship on home ice against Wisconsin-River Falls, which bounced Elmira 4-3 in overtime last night.

So what gives Saturday night? Does Plattsburgh prove to be too much of a force? Or does River Falls ride the momentum and pull off the upset?

Candace and Matt are here for the final pick of the season.

Wis.-River Falls at Plattsburgh
Candace: This is still Plattsburgh’s to lose to me. I like the Cardinals in a tight one. Plattsburgh 3-1
Matt: Boy, this is not easy and precisely the reason I don’t gamble. Both teams are offensive juggernauts, that’s for sure, but like I have said all season, I really believe this is Plattsburgh’s time to three-peat. I really believe that. Not taking anything away from River Falls, which will make it close, but I’ll say Plattsburgh with a 4-2 win on a late empty-net goal.

Elmira versus Middlebury
Candace: This will be a tight game as well, but I’m favoring Elmira. Elmira 3-1

Weekend Picks: March 17

Women’s D-III semifinals are Friday at Plattsburgh. Nothing more needs to be said except for, well, the picks of Candace and Matt.

Friday, March 18

Middlebury versus Plattsburgh, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Candace: Middlebury will make it close, but not close enough. Plattsburgh 5-2
Matt: This is Plattsburgh’s year. I like the Cardinals with a win here with Kayla Meneghin tallying two goals and an assist. Plattsburgh 5-2

Wisconsin-River Falls versus Elmira, 7 p.m. EDT
Candace: Probably the hardest game to pick. Elmira pulled off one upset last week, and I think the Soaring Eagles do again. Elmira 3-1
Matt: Too close to call, but we have to, right? Let’s go with River Falls here. I think the offense is too strong with Chloe Kinsel leading the way. I’ll say Wis.-River Falls 3-1

We’ll be back Saturday morning with our title game picks!

Weekend Wrap: March 13

We are down to four.

After four quarterfinal games last weekend in the NCAA Division III women’s national tournament, the remaining teams are Wisconsin-River Falls, Plattsburgh, Middlebury, and Elmira.

Starting off last Friday, River Falls topped St. Thomas 4-1 behind two goals and an assist from Haley Nielsen and a goal plus a helper from Paige Johnson.

Chloe Kinsel also scored for the Falcons and Dani Sibley contributed two assists as Angie Hall made 30 saves in goal. Hall’s lone blemish was a Hannah Bird goal midway through the second period, a goal that at the time had knotted the game at 1-all.

St. Thomas goalie Mackenzie Torpy finished with 18 saves.

Saturday’s trio of games saw two shutouts and arguably, an upset.

Camille Leonard made 25 saves as defending champion Plattsburgh romped Amherst 5-0. Kayla Meneghin, Melissa Sheeran, and Mackenzie Millen all posted a goal and an assist, with Melissa Ames and Bridget Balisy adding a goal each. Katelyn Turk and Erin Brand both notched two assists.

Amherst’s Sabrina Dobbins made 35 stops in net.

Julie Neuburger fashioned a 13-save shutout in Middlebury’s 4-0 win over Massachusetts-Boston.

Maddie Winslow had two goals and an assist, while Janka Hlinka popped a goal with a helper and Elizabeth Wulf added the other goal. Julia Wardwell registered a pair of assists.

For Mass.-Boston, goaltender Rachel Myette made 26 saves.

In what some may see as the upset, Elmira took a 3-1 win over Adrian on the road.

Katie Granato’s power-play goal early in the third period gave the Soaring Eagles a 2-1 lead and Johanna Eidensten’s empty-net goal sealed it in the final minute.

Maddie Evangelous also scored for Elmira and Kyle Nelson stopped 29 shots.

Jade Walsh made 18 saves for Adrian, whose only goal came from Sydney Smith on an early third period power play.

The semifinals and finals will be played next weekend at a location to be determined. Friday night, River Falls plays Elmira and Plattsburgh tangles with Middlebury.

The third-place game will then be Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. EDT with the national title game that evening at 7 p.m. EDT.

Weekend Picks: March 11

We are here — the penultimate weekend of the Division III women’s season. Down to eight teams and after this weekend, just four.

Candace and Matt prognosticate the four NCAA tournament games, starting with one Friday night and three on Saturday.

Friday, March 11

St. Thomas at Wisconsin-River Falls
Candace: Chloe Kinsel is the difference. Wis.-River Falls 3-1
Matt: Both teams have 20-win goalies, but River Falls has a more explosive offense, which is the difference here. Wis.-River Falls 4-1

Saturday, March 12

Amherst at Plattsburgh
Candace: I think losing to Utica just hardened the Cardinals’ resolve. Plattsburgh 3-1
Matt: I’ve said all year that Plattsburgh is on a mission. Nothing stops the Cardinals and nothing gets by Camille Leonard. Plattsburgh 5-0

Massachusetts-Boston at Middlebury
Candace: Mass.-Boston’s underdog streak ends after the Norwich upset. Middlebury 3-1
Matt: While I am a fan of underdogs, which UMass-Boston is, this is not the Beacons’ day. Middlebury is too deep and talented for the lone unranked team in the field. Middlebury 5-3

Elmira at Adrian
Candace: The hardest game for me to call. I think Elmira’s just been a little too inconsistent. Adrian 2-1
Matt: This looks to be the closest game of the quarterfinals. My gut says Adrian, but I think Elmira pulls it off in overtime. Elmira 3-2 (OT)

Weekend Wrap: March 6

Seven conference champions have been crowned in Division III women’s circles. Suffice to say, several title games had their share of drama.

Colonial Hockey
Stevenson’s Jessie Capanelli’s power-play goal at 13:15 of double overtime lifted the Mustangs to a 2-1 win over Endicott Sunday afternoon.

Lexi Klein opened the scoring for Endicott early in the first period before Chelsea Blackburn tied it at 1:18 of the third period.

Stevenson’s Sarah Modzelewski and the Gulls’ Vendela Jonsson each made 44 stops in goal.

ECAC West
No contest here as Plattsburgh cruised to an 8-0 win over Utica on Sunday.

Courtney Moriarty and Jordan Lipson each scored twice for the Cardinals and Camille Leonard made all 17 saves in goal.

Keira Goin finished with 42 saves for Utica.

MIAC
Megan Juricko’s goal 3:31 into the third period snapped a 1-1 tie and St. Thomas held on to beat Bethel 2-1 Saturday afternoon.

Becca Zarembinski also scored for UST, while Lauren Kolak notched the lone goal for the Royals.

Mackenzie Torpy kicked aside 21 shots in goal for the Tommies and Michelle Klimstra stopped 33 for Bethel.

NCHA
Adrian won the Slaats Cup as NCHA champs Sunday afternoon with a 2-0 shutout over St. Norbert.

Jade Walsh nailed down the 27-save shutout and Shelly Czarnowczan broke a 0-0 tie at 11:49 of the third period. Kaylyn Schroka added an empty-net goal at 18:30 for the Bulldogs.

SNC’s Leigh Grall made 31 saves in net for the Green Knights.

NEHC
Massachusetts-Boston pulled off the upset in blanking Norwich 2-0 Saturday to win the first-ever NEHC championship.

Jenny Currie and Kayla Smith scored for UMB and Rachel Myette was stellar in stopping all 35 Cadets’ shots.

Celeste Robert stopped 15 shots for Norwich.

NESCAC
More overtime heroics Sunday afternoon as Maddie Winslow’s goal 6:37 into extra time lifted Middlebury over Amherst by a 5-4 count.

Janka Hlinka had tied the game for the Panthers with five minutes to play in the third period.

Katie Mandigo added a pair of goals for Middlebury and Sara Culhane posted two for Amherst.

In net, Julie Neuburger turned aside 31 shots for Middlebury and Sabrina Dobbins fashioned a 21-save outing for Amherst.

WIAC
Wisconsin-River Falls goalie Angie Hall made 23 saves to lead the Falcons past Wisconsin-Stevens Point 4-1 in the WIAC final Saturday afternoon.

Chloe Kinsel notched two goals and an assist and Dani Sibley a goal and two assists for River Falls.

Sydney Conley stopped 24 shots for the Pointers.

The women’s D-III NCAA tournament selection show is scheduled for Monday morning (March 7) at 10 a.m. EDT.

Weekend Picks: March 4

Championship weekend is here and the seven women’s Division III conferences titles will be handed out Saturday or Sunday. Some conferences award auto-bids to the NCAA tournament, and some do not.

The tournament selection show is slated for next Monday.

That said, here and Candace and Matt’s picks for the seven championship games this weekend.

Colonial Hockey
Candace: I agree with Matt on Stevenson winning this. Semis: Stevenson 4-1; Morrisville 3-2. Finals: Stevenson 4-2
Matt: Like I’ve said recently, this is Stevenson’s title to lose. I see Stevenson knocking off Becker in the semifinals and then taking out Endicott in the finals, perhaps in overtime. The finals will be a great game. Let’s say Stevenson 3-2.

ECAC West
Candace: No. 1 versus No. 2. I don’t think Elmira will let itself be surprised by Utica. Semis: Plattsburgh 4-1; Elmira 3-2. Finals: Plattsburgh 3-1
Matt: Clearly, the popular choice here is Plattsburgh and Elmira in the finals, and that’s my pick. Plattsburgh should beat Oswego and Elmira will defeat Utica, setting up the obvious final. Plattsburgh takes it 2-1.

MIAC
Candace: I’m picking against Matt in this one. St. Thomas 3-2
Matt: Bethel and St. Thomas play in the final and this will be the one upset I’m picking. I like the run Bethel is on and it continues here as the Royals win 4-2 with a late empty-netter.

NCHA
Candace: Adrian is looking way too tough to beat. Adrian 4-2
Matt: I had thought this would be Adrian and Lake Forest, but LFC was bounced last weekend by St. Norbert. That said, Adrian has too much offense and goaltending and downs the Green Knights by a 4-1 count.

NEHC
Candace: This to me is Norwich’s tournament to lose. Semis: Castleton 3-2; Norwich 4-2. Finals: Norwich 3-1
Matt: Two semis and then the final finish out the NEHC weekend. I like Castleton beating Massachusetts-Boston and Norwich taking care of the University of New England. That sets up the championship final where Norwich escapes with a 2-1 overtime win over Castleton.

NESCAC
Candace: Middlebury is home for this tournament, which will help when the Panthers take on Amherst in the finals. Semis: Amherst 4-1; Middlebury 3-2. Finals: Middlebury 3-2
Matt: Middlebury plays Trinity and Amherst plays Connecticut College in the two semifinals here. I like Middlebury and Amherst both winning and then Middlebury winning the championship on home ice in a 3-0 shutout.

WIAC
Candace: Home ice takes this one. Wis.-River Falls 3-2
Matt: Wisconsin-River Falls hosts Wisconsin-Stevens Point for all the WIAC marbles. It will be a close contest, but all signs point to River Falls taking it on home ice with a 4-2 clinching victory.

Weekend Wrap: Feb. 29

No fancy intro this week, just need to get right to the recaps for the start of the Division III women’s conference playoffs that started this past weekend.

One word, though: overtime.

Colonial Hockey
Just two quarterfinal games went down Saturday, and both were shutouts.

Morrisville downed Johnson and Wales 7-0 (and outshot J and W 55-9 in the process) and in a closer game, Becker beat Canton 1-0.

In the Morrisville game, Stephanie Strymecki posted a hat trick and Kahnekaró:roks McComber added a pair of goals. Renee Schmaltz and Taylor Pincheon shared the nine-save shutout.

Brittany Aiello’s power-play goal at 16:25 of the third period stood as the winner for Becker. Madison Rigsby was phenomenal in goal in making 43 saves.

Next Saturday for the semifinals, Becker plays at Stevenson and Morrisville travels to Endicott.

ECAC West
After Utica bounced Cortland 5-0 on Thursday, the second quarterfinal saw Oswego goalie Tori Trovato pitch a 32-save shutout over Buffalo State on Saturday afternoon.

Olivia Ellis posted two goals and an assist for the Lakers.

The semifinals next Saturday have Oswego at Plattsburgh and Utica at Elmira.

MIAC
The play-in game last Thursday saw Concordia (Minn.) eliminate St. Mary’s and the two semifinals Saturday had absolute drama.

First, St. Thomas beat Concordia, 2-1, and then Bethel defeated Augsburg 1-0 in overtime.

Courtney Umland scored both for St. Thomas and Mackenzie Torpy stopped 25 shots.

Bethel’s Hadley Cookson was the OT hero just 1:58 into the extra session. Both goalies were sharp as Michelle Klimstra made 33 saves for Bethel and Erika Allen turned aside 20 for the Auggies.

In the finals, Bethel plays at St. Thomas on Saturday.

NCHA
Adrian took care of business in sweeping St. Scholastica in two straight, but Lake Forest lost and tied to St. Norbert and will not play for the Slaats Cup.

The Bulldogs won 4-1 Saturday and 4-0 Sunday. Four different players scored Saturday and Jade Walsh made 19 saves. Sunday, Walsh stopped all 25 shots and Kristin Lewicki potted a pair of goals.

St. Norbert goalie Leigh Grall fashioned 21 saves in the 3-1 win Friday at Lake Forest and then the teams battled to a 0-0 tie Saturday. Sunday, Grall made 15 saves and Allie Carter 16 for Lake Forest.

Adrian will host the NCHA title game on Saturday.

NEHC
The four NEHC quarterfinal games all ended in shutouts and the top four seeds won each contest.

For Massachusetts-Boston, Jenny Currie popped the hat trick and Rachel Myette made 21 saves in a 4-0 over Manhattanville.

Emily Corrales scored twice for the University of New England and Sydney Helmbrecht made 27 saves before giving way to Samantha Scobee, who stopped the only shot she saw in the final 2:40, in 3-0 win over Salve Regina.

Jess Cameron made 14 saves in Castleton’s 3-0 win over Plymouth State, and Taylor Steadman recorded a pair of goals.

Sarah Schwenzfeier’s goal at 17:50 of the third period was the difference for Norwich in a 1-0 win over New England College. Celeste Robert made just 10 saves as the Cadets outshot NEC by a 56-10 margin.

Lindsey Powers was stellar in stopping 55 for NEC.

Friday, Mass.-Boston hosts Castleton and UNE will travel to Norwich in the semifinals.

NEHC Women’s Open
Holy Cross brought home the championship after a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over St. Anselm Sunday afternoon.

Elizabeth Scala was the hero 2:56 into the OT after Alison Butler scored all three for St. Anselm, including the tying goal at 9:52 of the third period.

Tessie Salatas stopped 24 shots in the win, while Hannah Synnott made 14 saves in suffering the defeat.

The consolation game saw Franklin Pierce goalie Shannon O’Neil nail down a 17-save shutout in a 6-0 win over St. Michael’s. Sarah Sheils and Karsyn Baker each scored two goals for Franklin Pierce.

The semifinals Saturday had Holy Cross beating St. Michael’s 9-2 and St. Anselm blanking Franklin Pierce 2-0.

NESCAC
Two NESCAC quarterfinals were decided in overtime Saturday.

First, Trinity toppled Williams 2-1 on a Shannon Farrell goal 8:23 into extra time and then Amherst knocked off Bowdoin 2-1 as Katelyn Pantera won it at 2:12 of overtime.

The other two quarters saw Connecticut College shut out Hamilton on a 23-save outing from Katherine Chester and two goals from Stephanie Izzi and then Middlebury edged Colby 4-3, as Middlebury took a 4-1 lead early in the third period and held on the rest of the way.

Maddie Winslow had two goals and a helper for Middlebury.

Trinity plays Middlebury Saturday and Connecticut College plays Amherst for the semis. Both games are at Middlebury.

WIAC
Both WIAC semifinal games on Saturday went to overtime to decide the series.

The first game had Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Wisconsin-River Falls skating to a 3-3 tie and then the late game saw Wisconsin-Stevens Point drop Wisconsin-Superior 2-1 as Emily Lester tallied at 4:18.

Stevens Point beat Superior 7-1 Friday on the strength of Ellie Punnett’s two goals and three assists.

River Falls advanced after the tie Saturday and a 4-1 win Friday. Dani Sibley went for two goals and an assist for the Falcons.

The WIAC championship is Saturday at UWRF.

Weekend Picks: Feb. 26

The postseason is here!

Even after the MIAC tournament play-in game Thursday night that saw Concordia (Minn.) eliminate St. Mary’s by a 3-1 score, there is still tons of hockey to play.

Also Thursday, Utica bounced Cortland 5-0 in the ECAC West tournament.

Candace and Matt continue to prognosticate and from here on out, the number of games each week gets smaller and smaller.

Colonial Hockey Tournament – Saturday
Candace: Stevenson should win this, but in this round, I like home ice. Becker 2-1, Morrisville 3-1
Matt: I still say this is all Stevenson, but in the quarterfinals, I like Canton beating Becker and Johnson and Wales upending Morrisville.

ECAC West Tournament – Saturday
Candace: Like Matt, I see Oswego advancing. Oswego 4-2
Matt: Just one game here as Oswego heads to Buffalo State. Should be a close game, but I see Oswego getting the duke here.

MIAC Tournament – Saturday
Candace: This is one of the few upsets I see happening. Augsburg 2-1
Matt: Augsburg at Bethel is intriguing. Both are underrated in my book and Augsburg is in the playoffs for the first time since 2005. That’s motivation enough right there. I’ll pick the Auggies in a mild upset.

NCHA Tournament – Friday-Sunday
Candace: Adrian and Lake Forest are two of the better teams in the country. I like both to advance. Lake Forest 3-1; Adrian 3-1
Matt: Two series here as St. Norbert is at Lake Forest and Adrian hosts St. Scholastica. The last weekend of the regular season was dramatic with Adrian sweeping LFC to take the regular-season crown and I like those two teams to again meet in the playoff championship series. Both Adrian and Lake Forest sweep this weekend.

NEHC Tournament – Saturday
Candace: Home ice takes it in all four. Norwich 4-1; Castleton 2-1; Mass.-Boston 3-2; University of New England 3-2
Matt: I like all the higher seeds winning here — Castleton over Plymouth State, Norwich over Southern Maine, Massachusetts-Boston over Manhattanville and University of New England over Salve Regina. Just don’t see any upsets happening here.

NEHC Women’s Open – Saturday
Candace: I see St. Anselm taking this one. St. Anselm 3-2
Matt: The championship final will be a doozy, but St. Anselm wins it with an overtime win against Franklin Pierce.

NESCAC Tournament – Saturday
Candace: I think it’s home ice in all of the games. Amherst 3-2; Connecticut College 2-1; Middlebury 4-1; Williams 3-2
Matt: The only upset I see here is Trinity beating Williams. Not sure why, just a hunch. Amherst beats Bowdoin, Connecticut College downs Hamilton and Middlebury takes care of Colby.

WIAC Tournament – Friday-Saturday
Candace: I see the two top 10 teams advancing. Wis.-River Falls 3-1, 3-2; Wis.-Stevens Point 3-1; 3-1
Matt: Hoping none of these are decided by a mini game, but Wisconsin-River Falls beats Wisconsin-Eau Claire in two straight and Wisconsin-Stevens Point eliminates Wisconsin-Superior.

Weekend wrap: Feb. 21

The seven regular-season Division III women’s conference champions are now official, as the season wrapped up Saturday.

Four conferences were already mathematically decided last week — Colonial Hockey (Stevenson), ECAC West (Plattsburgh), NEHC (Norwich) and WIAC (Wisconsin-River Falls).

That left us with just the MIAC, NCHA and NESCAC this past weekend.

Bethel wrapped up its first MIAC championship in program history with a sweep of Concordia (Minn.) over the weekend on two straight shutouts. The two schools entered the weekend tied for second in the standings.

Maggie Straka earned the shutout Saturday in a 5-0 win, while Michelle Klimstra did the honors in the 3-0 win Friday to open the series.

The Royals finish the MIAC regular season with a 12-4-2 record and 26 total points, the same as St. Thomas, who will be the No. 1 seed for the MIAC playoffs based on their series win over Bethel back in November. Bethel will be the No. 2 seed and will host Augsburg.

The marquee matchup over the weekend was in the NCHA, where Adrian swept Lake Forest to gain the conference title. Lake Forest entered the series with a two-point lead over the Bulldogs.

A second period short-handed goal by Logan Taylor proved to be the difference as the Bulldogs topped Lake Forest 2-1 on Saturday afternoon. Jade Walsh made 18 saves and Allie Carter stopped 44 for the Foresters. On Friday, Walsh stopped 24 in another 2-1 victory.

On the weekend, Adrian held the top scorer in all of D-III, Michelle Greeneway, pointless for just the third time in 25 games this season.

Middlebury captured the top seed in the NESCAC following a 7-0 win over Williams on Saturday night. The Panthers, who are the No. 1 seed for the sixth straight season, will be looking for their eighth conference title when quarterfinal action starts on Saturday.

Middlebury has won 12 of its last 13 games dating back to Jan. 15 and looks to win its first NESCAC title since 2012.

Look for full conference tournament previews coming later this week.

Weekend Picks: Feb. 19

Four conference championships have been decided so far; all others come down to the final weekend.

For this weekend’s picks blog, Candace and Matt will predict what each conference’s last weekend of the regular season will yield in terms of regular-season champions.

Colonial Hockey
Candace: This is one of the conferences that is decided alrady. I think Morrisville edges Endicott for second, with Canton coming in fourth.
Matt: Stevenson has already clinched, but the battle for second through fourth is still very much up in the air. I say the finish looks like Stevenson at the top, then Endicott, Morrisville and Canton.

ECAC West
Candace: Plattsburgh is still the team to beat, and even if the Cardinals were to get swept this weekend, they own the tiebreaker over Elmira. Utica finishes third, holding off Buffalo State.
Matt: Plattsburgh is the class of D-III, but suffered its first loss of the season last weekend to Utica. While finishing first is all but assured, Elmira is a hard-luck No. 2, followed by Utica and then Buffalo State.

MIAC
Candace: By far the tightest conference race, I am going with St. Thomas to capture the league crown, with Bethel finishing second and Concordia (Minn.) third.
Matt: Any of St. Thomas, Bethel and Concordia (Minn.) can statistically still win the conference. After writing on Augsburg this week, the Auggies are my sentimental pick to finish fourth. Above Augsburg, I see St. Thomas winning, then Concordia and Bethel, in that order.

NCHA
Candace: Another tight race, with the two teams in the running playing twice this weekend. I like Lake Forest to hold off Adrian in the race.
Matt: Lake Forest and Adrian have been neck and neck all year and while the former leads by two points right now, the two schools (of course!) play each other twice this weekend. Not sure any goalie can stop Michelle Greeneway, but Adrian has two capable goaltenders. I don’t like calling ties, so I see a split here, which gives Lake Forest the conference.

NEHC
Candace: This isn’t as tight as it appears to be, because for playoff purposes, the two teams pursuing Norwich, Holy Cross and St. Anselm, are ineligible for the postseason due to Holy Cross being a D-I school and St. Anselm being a D-II school, so for the top seed in the league playoffs, Norwich already has it.
Matt: This looks like it’s down to Norwich and Holy Cross. Norwich has two No. 1 goalies in Celeste Robert and Laurie King, so who starts this weekend? Not sure it matters as the Cadets get to claim another crown.

NESCAC
Candace: This is a barn-burner between two long-time rivals. Like Matt, I see the Lord Jeffs overtaking the Panthers on the last weekend of the season.
Matt: The two-horse race between Middlebury and Amherst is certainly intriguing. Middlebury leads by a single point going into the weekend. I’ll go off the chart here and say Amherst takes both from Wesleyan and Middlebury splits with Williams, giving Amherst the championship.

WIAC
Candace: The fourth conference that has already been decided. Congrats to Wis.-River Falls, which even if it hadn’t won, has a cushion with a chance to beat Wis.-Eau Claire Saturday.
Matt: Wisconsin-River Falls has already claimed this one, but even if they hadn’t, I see them winning Saturday against Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Stevens Point, meanwhile, hosts Concordia (Wis.) for a nonconference game.

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