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Northeastern Beats Indiana for SF Berth

  • 20 Nov 2021

Northeastern University has one the first Collegiate Rugby Association of America (CRAA) quarterfinal of the weekend, downing Indiana University 43-12 in Annapolis, Md. The Maddogs will now play Navy, which beat UCONN 44-17 in its quarterfinal, in Sunday’s semifinals. The victor then advances to the CRAA DI Fall Championship final on Dec. 4 in Matthews, N.C.

Aggression at the breakdown, dominance in the scrum, and a well structured attack that produced supported line-breaks and tries — that’s what typified Northeastern’s game today. The Massachusetts team got on the board in the first two minutes when quick hands beat the rushing defense to find Victoria Izsa. The outside center carved through the back-field for the first score. Hooker Grace Pattarini kicked the first of five conversions, 7-0.

The game settled down a bit from Indiana’s perspective, but some big areas of concern emerged. Northeastern was able to drive the Redstorm off its scrum and disrupt lineouts. The Maddogs were also very fast over the ball, but the effectiveness of the jackal was neutralized by lots of penalties in and around the breakdown.

Indiana wasn’t without its weapons. Even when its scrum was skittering backward, No. 8 Shaianne Mcgruder was able to peel off and make huge gains, consistently. Outside center Anna Hensel, too, was a strong carrier and the whole team was very eager off the line and planted strong tackles to the midsection. It wasn’t until the second half when the integrity of the defensive line wore down.

Near the 15-minute mark, a Northeastern penalty kick didn’t make touch but the counterattack failed. Northeastern inside center Michelle Bui went for a great individual run, swerving through the defense for the 14-0 lead after Pattarini’s conversion.

Indiana answered a few minutes later, when Mcgruder picked from the scrum and worked the weakside defense for an excellent individual try, 14-5. As the half neared, Northeastern was starting to get reps in its attacking phases, and pods led by Madeline Eppley and Grace Arevalo – who was excellent in every area of the game – made good, damaging ground. They and Pattarini did a great job of sending that final flat pass to the eventual try-scorer. With no time on the clock, flyhalf Anastasia Hudak took a good angle from 10 meters out for the try, 19-5 into the break.

Northeastern opened it up in the third quarter, putting down three-straight tries. Big line-breaks from scrumhalf Maya Raghavan and Jee Soo Chon put in motion a try from No. 8 Carolyn Grimes. Bui’s second try was also the product of the structured attack going deep into the phases and the inside center taking advantage of the defensive gaps that followed. And then fullback Mireille Berry dotted down after the backs ran a really nice line off the lineout, stalling the defense with little pops off the hip. Pattarini nailed all three conversions and added a penalty in the 73rd minute for the 43-5 lead.

Indiana had to play a lot of defense and they looked tired by game’s end. That said the Midwesterners kept pushing and were rewarded with a try through Hensel, 43-12 the final. Sunday’s semifinal between Northeastern and Navy occurs at 11 a.m. ET at the Naval Academy.

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