Watts, Tolan face off in NCAA D3 national championship game
In the end, Chugiak’s Kirsten Watts walked away with the national title as No. 1 Norwich edged No. 3 Elmira 2-1 in the NCAA D3 Championship title game in Northfield, Vermont.
“It was such an amazing feeling to win the national title,” Watts told me. “It was so cool to see my team working together and really giving it our all for our program, our coaches and our seniors this year.”
Elmira includes two Alaska players in Tristen Tolan of Anchorage and Bella Hanson of Eagle River.
“I talk to both the girls on Elmira and have a great amount of respect for both of them,” Watts said. “It was very cool to once be on a team with them growing up and then meet again at the national championship game in college.”
Watts, of Chugiak High fame, played key minutes in the title game and registered a shot on goal and even plus/minus.
The sophomore forward played in 18 of the team’s 31 games and posted 2-3—5 totals.
Norwich [27-1-3] finished the season on an 18-game unbeaten streak and captured the program’s second national championship and first since 2011.Tolan, of South High fame, also fired a shot on net in the title game and finished with an even rating.
The freshman forward played in 28 of her team’s 30 games and collected 4-6–10 totals.
Hanson, of West High fame, accounted for 0-2—2 totals in nine games. She did not play in the NCAA Tournament.
Emira [25-3-2] reached the national title game with a 3-2 come-from-behind double-overtime victory against No. 2 and four-time defending national champion Plattsburgh State in the semifinals.
Plattsburgh featured junior forward Mackenzie Millen of Anchorage.
Norwich won its semifinal game 5-1 over Hamline and Melanie Bartenstein of Anchorage.
“I’m so proud of every [Alaska] girl that was represented on the four teams that were in the tournament,” Watts said. “It’s so cool to see how much the game has expanded and that three girls I grew up playing hockey with in Alaska ended up coming to my school to play in the Frozen Four.”