Bend (tackling) joins the rankings after a Pacific Northwest upset. /// Photo courtesy Bend Lady Roughriders Rugby Club
The playoffs are upon us and the DII club rankings reward those teams that are surging and demote those that fell short or are still finding that post-season shape.
The biggest adjustment occurred in the Pacific Northwest. Emerald City was the heavy favorite for the title, going through league undefeated and continuing the streak with a 35-5 semifinal win over Budd Bay on Saturday. Bend, which went 6-2 in league, rallied from a three-try deficit to defeat Tacoma 22-17 in the semifinals. On Sunday, the Roughriders jumped out to a 13-point lead after 15 minutes, as fullback Elizabeth Hayden scored, and captain Zoe Hunter added eight points on a conversion and two penalties.
During the last 10 minutes of the half, Emerald City flyhalf Aunnica O’Brien and wing Abigail Bishop crossed for tries, which balanced out to three points gained after Hayden scored again and Hunter converted, 20-10 to Bend at the half. The scoreline remained unchanged until minute 75, when Bishop crossed for her second, but there wasn’t enough time for a fourth try, 20-15 to Bend.
The Pacific Northwest champion will now face Life West, the NorCal champion, on May 7 in Seattle for the berth to the DII national quarterfinals. The Gladiatrix extended its perfect season with a 72-5 win over San Francisco Golden Gate in Saturday’s title match. While a 68-point differential might push most teams off a Top 15 list, we suspect the result speaks more to Life West’s strength.
Filling the void left by Emerald City, Northeast teams Burlington and Providence inched up after both defeated DI teams. Charlotte was also promoted after last weekend’s Carolinas crossovers. In the lead-up, unranked Atlanta defeated Augusta 15-0 in the teams’ last matrix game, and then the Harlequins played Charlotte to within a converted try. Augusta beat its crossover opponent, Eno River, by 45 points, but that loss to Atlanta affected its standing. The Harlequins make a compelling case for addition to the Top 15, but now that its post-season is over, it’ll be tough to compare it against the South regional contenders, Fort Miami and Nashville. Should the South regional results prove that the Carolinas league is much stronger, then Atlanta could make a late appearance on the Top 15.
SoCal was also an area of interest. Standings leader Tucson retained its unblemished record with a 20-7 win over Fullerton in the league semifinals, while Ventura travelled to San Fernando Valley for some revenge. The Outlaws dropped a 26-17 game to San Fernando Valley in the final week of league, but rebounded Saturday for a 44-12 triumph (stay tuned for game report). The championship has returned to its original logistics: May 7 at the higher seed, in this case, Tucson. The winner moves onto the DII national quarterfinals, the western portion of which is also being held in Tucson.
Brandywine moved up a couple spots after finishing its league season with a convincing shutout. The Pennsylvania side is the favorite for the Mid-Atlantic seed to nationals and will be decided on May 7-8. Brandywine will play NOVA B in the semifinals, while Harrisburg and Doylestown also vie for a final’s spot.
The Midwest is gearing up for playoffs, but the competition has been delivered a setback. While the first round remains intact – with top seeds playing runner-up seeds within the West and East divisions – the final four has altered. Instead of the traditional two-day tournament with semifinals Saturday and final Sunday, the championship will be held on one day, Saturday, May 7. The semifinals will be played in the morning and final in the late afternoon. The Midwest quarterfinals begin this weekend; stay tuned for previews.
In two weeks’ time, the DII national quarterfinalists will be decided.
DIVISION II CLUB RANKINGS – APRIL 25, 2016
New Rank (Old Rank) Team (League record). Results
1 (1) Life West (10-0). Defeated SFGG 72-5 for NorCal title
2 (2) Wisconsin (8-0). Defeated Milwaukee Scylla 52-25
3 (4) Burlington (5-1). Defeated DI Albany 36-10, Providence 21-7, North Shore 32-0
4 (6) Charlotte (7-0). Defeated Atlanta 31-24 in Carolinas SF
5 (8) Providence (5-2). Lost 21-15 to DI Beantown, defeated North Shore 44-0
6 (9) Tucson (8-0). Defeated Fullerton 20-7 in SoCal SF
7 (10) Ventura (6-2). Defeated San Fernando Valley 44-12 in SoCal SF
8 (12) Brandywine (8-0). Defeated York & Lancaster 46-0
9 (5) Augusta (6-1). Defeated Eno River 50-5 in Carolinas SF (lost 15-0 to Atlanta)
10 (unr) Bend (8-2). Defeated Tacoma 22-17 in SF, Emerald City 20-15 in PNW final
11 (3) Emerald City (9-1). Defeated Budd Bay 35-5 in SF, lost 20-15 to Bend in PNW final
12 (11) Cincinnati (7-1). Defeated Louisville 22-12
13 (13) Milwaukee Scylla (5-3). Defeated Palmer 41-26, lost 52-25 to Wisconsin
14 (7) SFGG (7-3). Lost 72-5 to Life in NorCal final
15 (14) KC Jazz (6-0). Defeated Wichita 63-12