Humboldt, one of four teams vying for the DII college spring championship. /// Photo: Jackie Finlan
Multiple club and college playoffs will be contested this weekend, starting Friday, and narrow down that field of championship hopefuls. There are a couple of good high school fixtures to watch as well. Here are our picks:
DI Elite: The inaugural competition is coming off nearly as planned. The withdrawal of Indiana means Penn State will receive a bye to the Sunday semifinal against either Life University or Lindenwood University. Tomorrow sees the western region in action. Host Central Washington kicks it off against New Mexico, and then BYU takes on Stanford. Watch the games here.
DII College: (Click on each team name for individual reviews following their respective regional victories.) Davis, Calif., plays host to the DII college spring championship. West champion University of Southern California plays Pacific Coast champion Humboldt on Saturday at 9 a.m. PDT, while South champion Tulane faces East champion Salisbury at 11 a.m. The two victors will vie for the spring title on Sunday, and the winner will face fall champion Davenport on May 7 in Moraga, Calif.
DII Southern California: #1 Tucson hosts #4 Fullerton, and #2 San Fernando Valley hosts #3 Ventura. There have been no crushing victories within this quartet, so the Saturday’s victors are anyone’s guess. The two winners will advance to the SoCal championship on May 7 in a neutral location, and the title-holder r will move onto the national playoffs.
DII Pacific Northwest: Bend, Ore., is hosting the final four, which pits #1 Emerald City vs. #4 Budd Bay and #2 Bend vs. #3 Tacoma on Saturday. The Mudhens have dominated the league and are expected to play in Sunday’s championship. The team that finishes 2-0 on the weekend will move onto the May 7 Pacific North championship against the NorCal champion for the berth to the national playoffs.
DII Northern California: Life West’s 74-10 over Berkeley in the NorCal semifinals was technically recorded as a forfeit, but the scoreline resembles the Hayward-based team’s output all year. The Gladiatrix will face San Francisco Golden Gate (which defeated Sacramento 52-19 in its semifinal) for the third time this season in Saturday’s NorCal final on Treasure Island. Winner plays the Pacific Northwest champ in Seattle for the berth to national playoffs.
DII Carolinas: The two pools play crossover matches Saturday: North #1 Charlotte hosts South #2 Atlanta, and South #1 Augusta hosts North #2 Eno River. Oddly, there is no Carolinas final, so no league champion will be named – unfortunate as the top teams could use the more intense post-season games. Saturday’s winners advance to the South championship (April 30-May 1, Montgomery, Ala.) and will be joined by Florida rep Fort Miami and True South rep Nashville.
College 7s: Three qualifiers will award automatic bids to USA Rugby’s College 7s Championship on May 27-29. The Ivy League (Princeton, N.J.) and Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio) tournaments will name DI representatives, while the Tri-State Conference event (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) will name a DII rep.
The Maryland Exiles International Youth Rugby Festival is hosting girls’ high school elite and open brackets. In the former, Northeast-toppers Morris and West End will join Pennsylvania powerhouse Downingtown and the Eastern Ontario U18s. West Carroll and North Bay will test themselves in the open bracket against Canadian visitors Eastern Ontario U16s and Holy Trinity High School of Cornwall.
Utah leaders United and Herriman face off this weekend. The duo watched each other play Danville when the NorCal side visited earlier this month. Herriman coach Joe Hoff noted, more than anything, United’s consistency and never-flagging spirit as United’s most impressive attributes. The Mustangs have the goods, it’s just whether they can perform and stay motivated for a full 70 minutes.