Providence is the reigning DII Atlantic North champion / Photo courtesy Providence RFC
The New England Geographic Union (GU) will decide its Division II club champion this weekend, as the top-four teams travel to Portland, Maine, for back-to-back playoff matches. New England will then contest crossover playoffs against the Empire GU to determine the Atlantic North Competitive Region’s representative to the national playoffs, which begin in May 2019.
New England DII Semifinals
Saturday, Nov. 11 (times Eastern)
11 a.m. #2 Providence vs. #3 Portland
1 p.m. #1 Worcester vs. #4 Burlington
Sunday, Nov. 12 – Finals
Worcester went undefeated during the regular season but not without its close calls – the closest of which occurred last weekend. The Shamrocks raced out to a 26-0 lead, finishing attacking opportunities through its backs, before a try from scrumhalf Tiffany McCoy put Providence on the board before half. The Rhode Island team then sent Elizabeth Clifton, Janelle Carretero and Renee Astphan into the try zone, and Clifton’s conversions tied it up with 10 minutes to go. That was the end of the scoring, however, for the 26-26 finish.
Midway through the season, Worcester head coach Tran Nguyen was reluctant to forecast into the future, given the tough nature of this eight-team league:
We’ve had our hearts broken. There have been seasons where we’ve gone in super strong, thinking, ‘This is our year,’ and that definitely did not happen.
Worcester (7-0-1) and Providence (6-0-2) finished atop the standings and their semifinal pairings replicate their Oct. 27 match-ups. Top-seeded Worcester faces #4 Burlington on Saturday and won their last meeting 61-5. Providence played #3 Portland to a 7-5 win just two weeks ago. And when the playoff host played Worcester, Portland banked two bonus points in the 31-24 loss.
At present, rain is scheduled for Friday night, and while it should be clear Saturday morning, the pitch could be slow. It’ll be sunny with some wind for the semifinals, but definitely heated as teams vie for a championship berth.
Remember: The DI East competition has combined teams from Atlantic North (Boston, Albany), Mid-Atlantic (Philadelphia, NOVA, Raleigh) and South (Charlotte) into one split-season competition, and it no longer mimics the post-season path of its DII counterparts.