Coast Guard Women’s Rugby photo
With the play-in round now complete, 16 teams remain in the hunt for the USA Rugby DII College Fall Championship. The field will head to three different locations this weekend and narrow the contenders to four.
Vassar College (N.Y.) is hosting both the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic pools in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The Brewers will compete in the Northeast and advanced to the Fall Round of 16 after shutting out Delaware 96-0 on Saturday. The forwards scored 10 of 16 tries, with prop Kate Sworden (4) and flanker Oshana Reich (3) leading the way. Vassar will ready for New England Wide runner-up Maine, which defeated SUNY Cortland 43-17 in Saturday’s play-in.
Rugby Northeast conference champion Bryant (R.I.) got the bye after Vermont forfeited its play-in opportunity and will play Mid-Atlantic runner-up Kutztown in the Round of 16. The Bears beat SUNY New Paltz 57-5 in Pennsylvania last weekend.
The Mid-Atlantic was the only pool that contested all four of its play-in games, and none were closer than the Fairfield vs. Colby match. The Connecticut team had a bit more size in the forwards and able strikers in its centers, and Colby was able to line-break through finishers like outside center Emma Hofman and wing Helen Sears. Penalties on both sides of the ball saw fluidity struggle but also kept the scoreline close – 5-5 at half, 12-10 at 54 minutes. Colby turnovers helped Fairfield score with minutes remaining and a stout red-zone defense repelled the Maine team’s final attempt at points, 17-10 to Fairfield.
Fairfield, the Tri-State runner-up, will now face New England Wide champion Coast Guard (Conn.), which beat Syracuse (N.Y.) 67-10 Saturday, in the Fall Round of 16. The Bears finished third at the 2017 Fall College Championship.
It was a high-scoring affair on the other side of the Mid-Atlantic pool, as Bloomsburg (Pa.) posted a 58-43 win over St. Michael’s College (Vt.). The Mid-Atlantic champion spread the ball around and put familiar players like Selena Fernandez, Christiana Deo and Sarah Van Cise into scoring opportunities. The Huskies will face Buffalo State, which banked a 50-10 win over Stony Brook. Christal Smith had a big day with five tries.
The Midwest and West pools played out similarly last weekend. Both groups included Round of 32 byes, and a very close game contrast with a lopsided result. In the Midwest, Ohio Valley champion Cincinnati and Allegheny champion Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) rested up with byes, and Great Lakes champion Bowling Green State (Ohio) topped UW Eau Claire (Wisc.) 53-17. Illinois State came from behind and surged in overtime to beat UM Duluth 22-17, and will now play Cincinnati on Saturday. IUP will face Bowling Green.
The Rocky Mountain’s Colorado Mesa State and Colorado School of Mines took byes through the Round of 32, while reigning champion Winona State blanked visiting Miami University of Ohio 120-0. UW Oshkosh outscored Grand Valley State four tries to three, but the Lakers were perfect on conversions, drawing the final score to one point – 22-21 to the Great Waters champion. Oshkosh will face Mesa State, while the Black Katts will take on Mines in the Round of 16.
The four fall semifinalists will be determined by Sunday evening, and the quartet will head to Charlotte, N.C., for the Dec. 1-2 finals weekend.