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DII Spring Semifinalists Named

  • 22 Apr 2019

The USA Rugby DII College Spring Championship has named its semifinalists: Tulane University, Fresno State, Salisbury University and Eckerd College. The four teams will assemble in Matthews, N.C., on May 3-4 and award the title.

RELATED: See the full brackets

FRESNO STATE was the first to secure its place in the DII spring semifinals, defeating Long Beach State 90-22 in the Round of 16. In Saturday’s quarterfinal, the Bulldogs met Saint Mary’s College (SMC) for the fourth time this season. The teams know each other and are great competitors, as demonstrated by the two lead changes and single-digit point differential in the final 15 minutes of the game.

SMC took the lead into break, and the incomparable Kristina Tomelloso, playing prop rather than No. 8, scored all three of the Gaels’ first-half tries, while wing Katherine Whiting kicked two conversions. Fresno State also scored three tries through a penalty, No. 8 Megan Oleski and wing Meaghan Gallagher: 19-17 into the break.

Tomelloso left the pitch with an injury in the first 10 minutes, and then extended its lead through No. 8 Andrea Zaragoza, 24-17. Ten minutes later Fresno State scrumhalf Raquel Macias and fullback Danyelle DeLeon scored back-to-back tries, and flyhalf Regan Garner’s two conversions afforded a lead that would remain with the Bulldogs.

RELATED: DII West Previews

Maddie Lane and Tangi Latu put 10 more points on SMC’s side of the scoreboard, while Macias, Mayra Aguilar and Alejandra Estrella (2) scored for Fresno State. Garner’s conversions afforded the 59-34 win.

TULANE head coach Jessica Mallindine called her team a wild card heading into this post-season, but the squad exited the SIRC championships reassured about its potential. Now, the Green Wave is heading back to the Spring Final Four for the fourth-straight year.

The Little Rock pool featured just two teams after SIRC #3 Georgia Tech and Mid-America champion John Brown withdrew. Mid-America runner-up Kansas State committed and traveled to Arkansas with 15 rostered players. Tulane had a full roster and ran out to a 40-0 first-half lead.

The Green Wave added four more converted tries in the second half, while outside center Hannah Hutton snapped the shutout with a try in the waning minutes. Tulane inside center Rohen Turner, who started rugby life as a prop, scored two tries and kicked nine conversions for 28 points, while fullback Gwen Leifer (3) and wing Sarah Foster (2) finished off back tries. Lock Rebecca Evans, flanker Eva Dils and No. 8 Clare Sullivan dotted down as well.

RELATED: DII East Previews

Eckerd College is the new kid on the block, and earned its spot in the spring final four with back-to-back wins against George Washington (84-10) and Coastal Carolina (53-12). The semifinal berth marks the Sirens farthest push into the playoffs to date.

Coastal Carolina, which defeated William & Mary 20-17 on Saturday, kept it close in the first half. Inside center Daisy Rickett put down two tries (and an Autumn Roach conversion) to Eckerd’s four in the opening 40 – 22-12. But the Sirens stepped up the defense in the second half while running in another five tries.

Outside center Kat Scheerer ended the weekend with 11 tries, five scored against Coastal Carolina. Scheerer added three conversions as well. Fullback Stephanie Franz (2), scrumhalf Anastasia Babicki and flyhalf Emily Yanuskiewicz scored tries.

SALISBURY and the University of Georgia also received byes through the Spring Round of 16, and contested their quarterfinal on Saturday. The teams went toe to toe for 60 minutes, and entered halftime tied at 17. Flyhalf Elisa Rivera, wing Marla McNeil and inside center Kirby Given scored for Salisbury, while fullback Haley Sheldon added a conversion. UGA got its points from outside center Katelyn Mason (and a conversion), flanker Marlyse Sifre and scrumhalf Jennifer Barto.

The contest stayed close in the third quarter, but Salisbury accelerated through the fourth. Sheldon (who handled the extras) and No. 8 Haley Gee scored two more apiece, and Given and outside center Sydney Hobbs also dotted down.

The brackets that USA Rugby circulated to the playoff teams pit the West and Little Rock winners against each other, and the two east winners against each other for semifinals. That would mean that the reigning champion, Tulane, would face last year’s third-place team, Fresno State. And last year’s fourth-place team, Salisbury, plays the newcomer, Eckerd, in the spring Round of 4. With that said, await the final pairings from USA Rugby.

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