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Navy Treats Hometown Crowd to QF Win

  • 20 Nov 2021

The U.S. Naval Academy is one step closer to returning to the DI Fall Championship, which is now run by the Collegiate Rugby Association of America (CRAA). The Midshipmen beat UCONN 44-17 in today’s quarterfinals and will face Northeastern University (which beat Indiana 43-12 today) in Sunday’s semifinal.

RELATED: Navy’s preview

A boisterous hometown crowd had reason to cheer early on, as lock Rebecca Peasley knocked over a penalty three minutes in for the 3-0 lead. That point differential increased to 13-0 during the next 10 minutes, as Navy fed off of that energy.

Navy stole a UCONN scrum and No. 8 Sarah Skinner powered up-field. A dubious kick was made good as wing Jiyeon Kim played the ball right to the touchline and came away with possession – much to the crowd’s delight. A subsequent penalty and phases to the line put flyhalf Joy Brown-Bryant into the try zone, 8-0.

Brown-Bryant did a great job of working the kicking game in the first half, and UCONN’s back three never fully adjusted. Balls hit the ground or were misplayed, so Navy kicked on and deployed excellent chasers in 11 and Ana Olszewski. Both were excellent finishers and the latter had several tackle-skirting runs and a couple tries by day’s end.

Navy got its second try through co-captain Skinner, who took a quick penalty from 10 meters out and just pushed off the defense for the dot-down, 13-0.

Navy owned the first quarter of play but UCONN, which also had vocal support travel to Annapolis, started mobilizing in the second quarter. With 13 minutes left in the half, Huskies hooker Olga Wilson punched it in from close range, 13-5.

UCONN played with more possession and pep in the second 20 but squandered several scoring its 22. An excellent series to the try line ended in a poach from Navy fullback Siena Hall. Continued clearances from Brown-Bryant were followed by messy counters, and confusion on a tap penalty saw the ball ripped out of the carrier’s hands.

Meanwhile, Navy made the final few minutes of the half count. Skinner single-handedly rucked UCONN of its ball and Brown-Bryant did a great job of checking the pass before the defense bit and then shipped it to Marissa Meyer. The inside center hit the line at full pace, then cut back across the final three defenders to center the try for Peasley, 20-5.

With no time on the clock, Navy turned over the ball in its own end and Olszewski went for a great run along the sideline. Then from a mid-field penalty, it was one pass to the wing, who fooled the inside defense and then hit the corner for the 50-meter try: 25-5 into the break.

Although UCONN didn’t work its back line as well as Navy did, the second did see hard-striking centers Gianna Wood and Keisha Durden rack up some meters in the second half. Nonetheless, Navy continued with a better width game, and a break on one sideline would get the defense sliding some there was room on the other sideline for line breaks and tries. Kim and Olszewski both scored during the opening 15 minutes and Peasley converted both: 39-5.

Both teams worked their benches and the final eight minutes produced three tries – two from UCONN, another from Navy. The home side triumphed 44-12 for the berth to the semifinals at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.

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