KENOSHA, Wis. — Tournament Most Valuable Player Madison Taylor (Jr., Copper Canyon, Texas/Marcus), Lexi Wong (Jr., Lantana, Texas/Guyer) and Sophie Oliver (So., Houston, Texas/Langham Creek) each scored three times to lead 11 different scorers from Division III No. 2-ranked Austin College as the Kangaroos scored early and often in a 20-6 victory over Wittenberg University for the 2021 Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) Division III Championship at Carthage College’s HARIBO Pool in the Koenitzer Aquatic Center.
Austin – which previously finished second to Macalester College by an 8-5 final score at the 2019 CWPA Division III Championship hosted by Connecticut College in New London, Conn. – becomes the fourth team to claim the league crown following Grove City College (2010, 2011, 2012), Connecticut (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and Macalester (2017, 2018, 2019).
In the second CWPA Division III Championship appearance for both programs – as Wittenberg claimed Sixth Place in 2019 due to an 11-9 setback versus Grove City at Connecticut – the Kangaroos and Tigers duked it out to see which program will reign supreme for the next 12 months.
Austin put the game out of reach by the conclusion of the first quarter as the ‘Roos jumped out to a 7-0 lead by the conclusion of the opening eight minutes of action and never looked back in rolling to a league championship record 20 goals and 14-goal margin of victory.
Shannon Berry (Jr,, Austin, Texas/Westwood) commenced the offensive onslaught with 6:39 left in the first quarter by burying a shot prior to Wong (6:13), Oliver (5:35) and Sammi Thiele (Fr., Keller, Texas/Keller) (4:47, 4:13) finding the back of the cage to build a 5-0 margin.
Oliver (3:37) and Maddie Jacks (So., Richmond, Texas/Foster) (2:42) capped off a 7-0 fist quarter run as Austin pulled away on the path to the program’s inaugural championship crown.
Wittenberg broke-up the shutout 40 seconds into the second quarter as Rookie of the Tournament Grace McLaughlin (Fr., Hatfield, Pa./North Penn) slipped a shot past Austin netminder Valery Piachonkina (Jr., Castro Valley, Calif./Mission San Jose) to move the Tigers to within 7-1.
Cory McGrath (Fr., Flower Mound, Texas/Flower Mound) delivered a response 19 seconds later with 7:01 on the clock to return the gap to seven (8-1), but Riley Kettelson (Fr., New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West) delivered on a man-up opportunity at 6:26 to pull Wittenberg back to within six at 8-2.
It would mark the last time the Tigers were within six goals of Austin as Oliver converted on a man-up try at 4:04 prior to Brooke Le (Jr., Flower Mound, Texas/Flower Mound) and Taylor denting the twine at 2:30 and 1:18, respectively, to make it a nine-goal game at 11-2.
Wittenberg shaved its deficit down to eight prior to the halftime horn, however, as McLaughlin beat the buzzer by burying a last second shot to move the Tigers to within 11-3 after 16 minutes of action.
Austin put any doubts about the contest’s outcome to rest in the third quarter by starting an 8-0 scoring run with a 6-0 outburst in the frame.
Wong ignited the surge by tacking on back-to-back tallies at 7:11 and 5:75 to make it 13-3 and draw a yellow card against Wittenberg head coach Sivan Pardon. Le (4:57), Taylor (9:76), Kendall Katusak (Jr., Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock) (1:58) and McGrath (17 seconds) rounded out the third quarter barrage to hand the ‘Roos a insurmountable 17-3 margin heading into the fourth quarter.
Katherine Cox (So., Flower Mound, Texas/Flower Mound) and Taylor finished off the 8-0 run with consecutive strikes at the 7:07 and 5:36 marks of the fourth quarter, respectively, to enlarge the margin to 19-3.
Kettelson snapped the run by converting a six-on-five opportunity at 5:11 to return Wittenberg’s deficit to 15 (19-4). However, Presley Woods (Jr., Lantana, Texas/Guyer) put the capstone on Austin’s season by heaving in the ‘Roos 20th marker courtesy a man-up score at 2:21.
Trailing by 16 with two minutes to play, the Tigers shrank the final deficit down to 14 prior to the concluding horn as McLaughlin (2:11) and Kailey Cordova (So., Schaumburg, Ill./Schaumburg) (1:22) delivered their team’s final blows to establish the 20-6 final score.
For Austin – which has now placed second and first in the program’s only CWPA Division III Championship appearances under 2021 CWPA Division III Championship Coach of the Tournament Mark Lawrence – Le, McGrath and Thiele each contributed pairs of goals to join Wong, Taylor and Oliver in recording multi-score games. Berry, Jacks, Katusak, Cox and Woods each netted solo markers in support of winning goalie Piachonkina.
Austin’s offensive output marks the most goals scored by the ‘Roos in a CWPA Division III Championship tournament game by eclipsing a 19-7 opening round win versus Penn State Behrend from the 2019 event at Connecticut. The game, however, is not the highest offensive output in the history of the championship as Monmouth College defeated the host Camels by a 25-10 count at the 2019 event. Ironically, the Austin-Penn State Behrend and Monmouth-Connecticut games were consecutive on April 12, 2019, as the ‘Roos, Lions, Fighting Scots and Camels combined for 61 games in 64 minutes of water polo during the 2019 championship’s opening day.
McLaughlin led Wittenberg with a hat-trick (three goals), while Kettelson (two) and Cordova (one) combined to equal her offensive output.
|1st Q||2nd Q||3rd Q||4th Q||–||FINAL|
|Division III No. 2 Austin College||7||4||6||3||–||20|
|Austin Goals:||Lexi Wong (3); Madison Taylor (3); Sophie Oliver (3); Brooke Le (2); Cory McGrath (2); Sammi Thiele (2); Shannon Berry; Maddie Jacks; Kendall Katusak; Katherine Cox; Presley Woods|
|Wittenberg Goals:||Grace McLaughlin (3); Riley Kettelson (2); Kailey Cordova|
|Saves:||Austin – Statistic not kept ; Wittenberg – Statistic not kept|
|Exclusions:||Austin – 7 ; Wittenberg – 7|
|Advantage Opportunities:||Austin – 5-for-7 ; Wittenberg – 2-for-7|
|Sprints:||Austin – 4-for-4 ; Wittenberg – 0-for-4|
|Cards/Misconducts:||Austin – YC (Head coach Mark Lawrence 4:09 left in 2nd Q) ; Wittenberg – YC (Head coach Sivan Pardon, 5:25 left in 3rd Q)|
|Officials:||Andy Mattson, Nick Cargola|
2021 CWPA Division III Champion – Austin College
2021 CWPA Division III Championship Runner-Up – Wittenberg University
2021 CWPA Division III Championship Third Place – Grove City College
2021 CWPA Division III Championship Fourth Place – Carthage College
2021 CWPA Division III Championship Most Valuable Player – Madison Taylor (Austin College)
2021 CWPA Division III Championship Rookie of the Tournament – Grace McLaughlin (Wittenberg University)
2021 CWPA Division III Championship Coach of the Tournament – Mark Lawrence (Austin College)