Northeastern Women’s Rugby Club
Northeastern University and Michigan State won their respective play-in matches Saturday and thus advance to the USA Rugby Division I Fall Championship quarterfinals. Both teams will compete in the eastern pool Nov. 17-18 and travel to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which is also the site for two of four pools in the DII fall college playoffs.
Northeastern finished second in the DI Northeast, dropping the conference title match to UConn 25-12. But it was a good improvement since the teams’ regular-season game, which the Maddogs lost 43-7, and it showed in the team’s 29-0 win over Navy Saturday.
“The launch on defense has been doing extremely well the past few weeks and we are very aggressive at the tackle and breakdowns,” Northeastern coach Keith Cattanach pointed to improvements. “Navy did play a good portion of the match in our half; however our defense held strong and we turned the ball over several times to get out of our end.”
The team also rallied around a new attack system this season, and is well acquainted with the style now. Solid scrums helped secure good attacking platforms, and finishers like Hannah Bogich (three tries), Gabby Gil and Lisa Li capped off scoring opportunities in the try zone. The coach recognized Jamie Kotcher, Tessa Harlow, Libbie Desrosiers and Alessia Pellegrini for playing good, supportive rugby on the day, as well as prop Tara Levine and fullback Maya Raghavan for stepping into starting roles.
“Our alternates who came on gave us a decent amount of energy to keep our momentum going and add to the game,” Cattanach continued. “Freshman Grace Pattarini, first-year Amber Chisholm, freshman Gracie Arevalo – each of these subs didn’t miss a beat. We are looking forward to their future with this program!”
Northeastern’s reward is a quarterfinal match with reigning DI fall champion Davenport University (preview en route). The team will review film, focus on more areas of improvement, and stick to refining its game until then. The winner will then face the winner of Michigan State vs. UConn during Sunday’s fall semifinal.
Michigan State was also successful on the weekend, and it only got moving after players shoveled snow from the pitch to make it playable. The home side was well rewarded with a 51-17 win over visiting Kent State.
“We did not know how they played whatsoever. It was almost better that way. We didn’t go into the game thinking that we were going to win or lose. We simply played together, as a team,” Michigan State vice president and senior fullback Hannah Jung explained. “Kent State played great; overall they were a united, competitive, and aggressive team.”
Jung led the way on the scoreboard, dotting down three tries, while Jenna Stanley (sophomore hooker), Sophie Lamphier (freshman No. 8), Kierra Mayotte (freshman flyhalf), Erin DiNunzio (junior wing), Emilie Reinhardt (freshman flanker) and Sarah Michelson (junior outside center) all scored one try. Senior inside center Katelynn Barkell added three conversions in the win.
“I am so proud of my team,” Jung enthused. “We’ve come a long way, especially in the past three years. On Saturday, not only did our four captains and vets have an outstanding match, there were four rookies who played and showed everyone what they were capable of.”
For some more background on Michigan State, read FloRugby’s article from October.
The Division I Fall Championships will contest the quarterfinals and semifinals this weekend – the other side of the bracket competes in Columbia, Mo. – and the two finalists will advance to Charlotte, N.C., for the Dec. 1-2 championship weekend.