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Davis Confirms Top Status in West

  • 11 Apr 2016


Four quality games occurred in Davis, Calif., which hosted half of the DI college spring quarterfinalists this weekend. Host UC Davis exited with two wins, earning a berth to the spring championship against UVA on May 7 at St. Mary’s in Moraga, Calif.


Two Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference (PMRC) division leaders in UC Davis (West) and Washington State (North) faced off in one of Saturday’s quarterfinals. Washington State is a good mix of size and pace, with players like Josie Markoff, Jill Fejes and Marina Steinbrueck testing tackle competition, and Maddie Holmes, Alex Denzinger and Mikayla Holmes pushing the pace. It threw Davis off its rhythm in the first half, but the home side came away with 13 first-half points on tries from Sydnee Watanabe and Justine Joya, and a Becca Lehman penalty. The Cougars ended the half punching at Davis’ line, but no points were produced, and that was influential.


Davis started moving the ball better in the second half, and Sydney Cooper, Carli Watt, Sabrina Perez, Prai Harris and Erin Martin crossed for tries, while Lehman added the extras in the 44-0 win.


Meanwhile, Chico State won a cracker of a match against PMRC South champion UC San Diego, hanging tough in a 29-27 nailbiter. The Wildcats had plenty of physicality remaining when the West #2 team lined up against Davis today. Chico State did a good job of disrupting Davis’ clean possession, but both sides really struggled to take care of the ball – whether it was 50/50 passes out of contact, untidy rucks or unsupported breakaways. There were consistent stoppages in play that exacerbated with time.


It came down to finishing opportunities, and Davis did it better. Watanabe was particularly exciting. The inside center has a knack for drawing defenders and then skirting around them. She scored a beauty of a try in the second half and was a constant go-forward force. Backs captain Justine Joya did her job along the sideline as well. The wing waited patiently as the team worked the sidelines and then scored two tries in the first half before taking a knock and leaving the game.


Flanker Tonya Wessman scored a brace of tries as well and fortified the loose forwards in the absence of Paige Steiding, who is recouping from an injury. The No. 8 was replaced by prop Brenda Erickson, who had a solid game and several breakaways.


Flyhalf Lehman also crossed the line, added a penalty and the conversions in the 35-5 win. Chico’s try came in the second half from hooker Miranda Selena, who took advantage of a mismatch on the wing for the dive-over score. The try was preceded by a really pretty series of fast, wide ball that was driven by flyhalf Shanan McFall and that put dynamic players like outside center Stephanie Bergerhouse and fullback Darby McFall into space.


The consolation game was also well contested, and closer than the score suggests. Washington State’s forward game and work in the breakdown was superior to UC San Diego’s, and that limited the damage done when players like Wing Ly, Di-an Duong and McKenzie Bolden got ahold of the ball.


The teams kept it close in the first quarter, with Cougars outside center Maddie Holmes scoring from the opening kickoff, and then Duong looping into the try zone after a series of Washington State penalties (5-5).


Washington State took a 12-5 lead into the break and then opened it up the second 40. Flyhalf Monae Hendrickson, flanker Gaby Drllevich, wing Marina Steinbrueck, scrumhalf Alex Denzinger (2) and outside center Erica Chandler all scored by game’s end. UCSD outside center Teigan MacDonald accounted for the Tritons’ second-half try for the 43-12 final.


USA Women’s Collegiate All American coach Sue Whitwell was on site scouting and indicated that at least one player from each team drew interest and a potential invite to the National All Star Competition (NASC) in June. Those invites won’t go out until after the May 7 game and will combined with fall selections. Additionally, this NASC will coordinate with the Eagles’ Super Series, which will occur in Utah this summer. Whitwell will select players from that assembly to compete against a Canadian developmental side. More details to come.


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