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GRESHAM, Ore. — Brianna Miller (Jr., Edinburg, Texas) scored four times to claim Player of the Game laurels for leading North Atlantic Division runner-up Wellesley College to an 8-3 victory over Heartland Division Champion Grinnell College in a consolation game at the 2018 Women’s National Collegiate Club Championship hosted by the University of Washington at Mt. Hood Community College.

The victory guarantees The Blue will make history as Wellesley will face Mid-Atlantic Division Champion/No. 8-ranked Pennsylvania State University at 2:50 p.m. Pacific/5:50 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, May 5, with a berth in the National Collegiate Club Championship Ninth Place game on the line. 

Wellesley, which is making its third appearance at the National Collegiate Club Championship since 2012 as a division runner-up, is guaranteed to finish no lower than 12th in the final standings  Historically, the team finished in a tie for 15th place in 2012 (at Florida State University) and 2016 (at the University of California-Santa Cruz).  Further, the victory over Grinnell marks The Blue’s first win at Nationals following losses to the University of Michigan (12-4 L), the University of Notre Dame (15-5 L) and Cornell University (10-8 L) in 2012 at Florida State; the University of California-Davis (21-1 L), the University of Virginia (12-6 L) and the University of Texas (9-6 L) in 2016 at UC-Santa Cruz; and Midwest Division Champion/No. 10-ranked Lindenwood University (30-0 L) in the opening round this year.

Grinnell, which forfeited its opening round game to Southwest Division Champion/No. 11-ranked the University of Califronia-San Diego due to travel delays, will conclude its run at the National Collegiate Club Championship at 9:50 p.m. Pacific/12:50 p.m. Eastern on May 5/6  in a 13th/15th place game against Rocky Mountain Division Champion the University of Colorado.  A victory by Grinnell will allow the team to finish in a tie for 13th place, while a loss drops the team into a tie for 15th place.  The 13th and 15th place positions in the final 16-team field are not played out due to time restrictions on the final day of the tournament.

In a game pitting small, liberal arts colleges, it was Wellesley that experienced the better of play as The Blue never trailed prior to exploiting a 5-1 fourth quarter scoring advantage to pull away in a game that was 3-2 at the conclusion of the third quarter.

Leading by one with seven minutes of play remaining, a penalty shot by Claire Whitaker (Jr., Annapolis, Md.) exactly 30 seconds into the fourth quarter ignited Wellesley’s offense in pushing her team ahead 4-2. Grinnell got the goal back 30 seconds later when Sophie Doddimeade (Fr., London, U.K.) uncorked a shot that found the back of the net with 6:00 remaining on the clock to once again move the Fireballs within one at 4-3.

However, The Blue made their opponents feel the same in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter as Whitaker (5:44) and Miller (4:53, 3:01) put away even-strength strikes with Whitaker (3:41) also tacking on a six-on-five conversion to account for a 4-0 scoring run to the final horn for the 8-3 win.

Overall, more goals were put up in the fourth quarter than the rest of the game as the teams combined for five scores in the first 21 minutes of competition.

Wellesley jumped on the scoreboard first as Kyle Bertram (Fr., Chicago, Ill.) broke the ice with a tally at the 6:14 mark of the first quarter.  The Fireballs’ Gretchen Schreiner (So., Grand Forks, N.D.) evened the score at 4:41, but Miler pushed The Blue into the lead for good by putting away a shot with 1:09 on the clock to make it 2-1.

Following a scoreless second quarter, Wellesley built its margin to a pair at 3-1 courtesy a man-up conversion by Miller with 5:29 left in the third quarter.  Grinnell inched back within one to add some drama to the opening moments of the fourth quarter as Sarah Weltz (Fr., New York, N.Y.) drove a ball into the cage with three seconds left to make it 3-2 going into the final seven minutes of competition.

For Wellesley, Miller finished with four goals, while Whitaker joined her in recording hat-tricks with three tallies of her own.  Bertram notched a single goal and netminder Rachel Utomo (Jr., Jakarta, Indonesia) posted the win with seven saves.

For Grinnell, Doddimeade, Schreiner and Weltz each racked up solo strikes to accompany a five save performance by goalie Shannon Ellery (Sr., Muncie, Ind.).

  1st Q 2nd Q 3rd Q 4th Q FINAL
Grinnell College 1 0 1 1 3
Wellesley College 2 0 1 5 8
Wellesley Goals: Brianna Miller (4); Claire Whitaker (3); Kyle Bertram
Grinnell Goals: Sophie Doddimeade; Gretchen Schreiner; Sarah Weltz
Saves: Wellesley – Rachel Utomo (7) ; Grinnell – Shannon Ellery (5)
Exclusions: Wellesley – 2 ; Grinnell – 3
Advantage Opportunities: Wellesley – 3-for-3 ; Grinnell – 0-for-2
Sprints: Wellesley – 0-for-4 ; Grinnell – 4-for-4
Cards/Misconducts: None
Officials: Gene Gill, Kacie Bund


Wellesley College’s Huihan Li attempts to get a shot around Grinnell College’s Gretchen Schreiner (#14)


Wellesley College’s Cameron Wierzbanowski (#12) tries to get around Grinnell College’s Gretchen Schreiner (#14)


Wellesley College goalie Rachel Utomo (#1)


Wellesley College’s Claire Whitaker (#2) tries for a field block

Collegiate Water Polo Association