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Oct. 22, 2022 — A smorgasbord of collisions

Today is an interesting day for the game of field hockey. Some competition is winding down, and a number of states are in playoffs already.

But the docket of NCAA Division III games is a meaty smorgasbord indeed. There are 72 Division III games scheduled for today, and more than a few are likely to identify the 18 automatic qualifiers who will make the 2022 championship bracket in Pool A.

A number of these games are end-of-season games with teams playing out the string. A cursory look shows one matchup with one win between the two teams, another with three wins, and another with just five. I’m sure there are others out there.

But the Williams-Trinity game in the New England Small Conference Athletic Conference is a Top 10 matchup at high noon from Hartford, and could shake up the ranks of the at-large crowd.

You see, the NCAA Division III field hockey tournament has usually had a very low number of at-large teams. I seem to remember one year that it only had three at-large bids; nowadays, it’s seven. But those seven aren’t selected until the committee selects one independent Division III team in Pool B.

This year, there 11 independents that go into Pool B:

  • Christopher Newport
  • Husson
  • Maine-Farmington
  • Mary Washington
  • Meredith College
  • New England College
  • Salisbury
  • Southern Virginia
  • Thomas
  • Virginia Wesleyan
  • Wells

Only when that Pool B team is picked are the other seven at-large teams are selected from the non-winners of tournaments as well as the 10 teams not selected from Pool B. Those seven at-large teams go into Pool C.

So, here’s why the Trinity-Williams game could be one of those “fulcrum” games, which could determine the outcome of a number of teams. Right now, Trinity and Williams are ranked fourth and fifth in the country using the Average Computer Ranking on The ACR for this ranking is an average of win-loss record and goal differential (up to five).

The two teams, however, are fourth and fifth in their own conference. As of this morning, Middlebury and Tufts are at the top of the table with seven wins and one defeat in league play, with Amherst and Trinity tied for third at 6-2, and Williams a game back at 5-3.

Suffice it to say, neither the Bantams nor the Ephs can afford to lose this game. Two weeks from today, the NESCAC quarterfinals begin, and the loser of this matchup could very well wind up having to go on the road for that match depending on how other teams in the league fare.

Stay tuned. The Road to Glassboro and the Final Four could have several twists in the tale today.

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