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DII College Spring Ranking #7

  • 19 Mar 2019
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UN Reno scrumhalf Mallory Waldeck / Photo: Jackie Finlan

Week seven of the USA Rugby DII College Spring Rankings was all about the West Coast conference – and not just because most other leagues were quiet. This league continues to trade upsets and close decisions, intensifying the anticipation for playoffs. With that said, the drama regarding which teams are advancing has ended (provided there are no disciplinary exclusions pending) with last weekend’s results.

Saint Mary’s College (7-0-1, 38 pts.), Fresno State (7-1, 36 pts.), UN Reno (5-1-1, 26 pts.) and San Jose State (4-2-2, 26 pts.) have secured their top-four status, and they all have at least one more league game to play. The University of San Francisco (2-4, 9 pts.) has three games remaining, but it’s mathematically impossible for it to break into the top four.

In a rematch of last year’s West Coast conference final, Fresno State traveled to UN Reno for a guaranteed good test. The Bulldogs were coming off of a five-point loss to league-leading Saint Mary’s College (which beat Cal Poly by 71 points Saturday), while the Wolfpack was recovering from a 1-0-1 road trip in California. Fresno State dominated the first half, running in four tries (Meaghan Gallagher, Averi Peterson, Chetna Kumar-Naicker, Mayra Aguilar) in 25 minutes and adding three Regan Garner conversions for the 26-0 lead.

UN Reno snapped the drought before the halftime break, as fullback Tito Taylor dotted down and Rachel Henley converted. The home side continued to build in the second half and was rewarded through try-scorers Audrey Snow and Taylor. Henley’s conversions made it 26-21 to Fresno State with the fourth quarter to play. The scoreline held until the very final minutes of the match, when captain Raquel Macias scored and Garner converted, 33-21. That score meant no bonus-point loss for UN Reno.

San Jose State lost to Sacramento State, and dropped in the ranking, but managed to get bonus points for the four tries scored and the fewer-than-seven-points loss.

Originally, the conference wanted to hold a two-weekend post-season, with the higher seed hosting a semifinal, and the placing rounds held the following weekend. The league then opted to use that March 30 weekend as a make-up weekend, and provided the remaining games occur, all of the conference teams will have played all nine games. There is definitely something to be said for that commitment, especially this season among spring conferences.

Looking toward this weekend, Tulane is hosting the SIRC semifinals and championship, and will start with Georgia Tech on Saturday. University of Georgia and UT Chattanooga will contest the second semifinal, and placing matches will occur Sunday. No doubt these teams will be eager for the field time and uptick in pressure, let alone the opportunity to qualify for spring regionals.

As a reminder, conference champions Salisbury (Capital) and Claremont (Pacific Desert) have claimed their berths to regional championships, and assuming the runners-up also advance (USA Rugby has yet to release this information publicly), then George Washington and CSU Long Beach are also bound for the Spring Round of 16 (or 14) on April 19-21.

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