BYU's backline should be the star of the weekend. (Dobson Images)
By Jackie Finlan
The Pacific Coast's women's college take another step farther into post-season, with DI contesting its play-in semifinals today and DII determining its three national seeds by Sunday's end.
In division one, the two finalists will move on to Pac Coast playoffs in two weekends time. First to take the pitch today are BYU (Utah seed) and California (Northern California #4 seed). Cougar Rugby might have the best backline in the game right now, boasting a star-studded backline that showcases a number of All Americans and U20 Eagles. It all begins with flyhalf and captain Kara Remington, who has standouts like Star Bollinger, Keelia Harker, Kristi Jackson and Rebekah Siebach at her disposal. The advantage that Cal has over BYU is its regular competition. Playing in arguably the toughest LAU in the country, California has been playing tough teams for months now, while BYU has posted 70+ points against Utah DII colleges and women's clubs. That said, BYU is the heavy favorite and should move into the final against the winner of Chico State v Oregon.
The latter match will be more evenly matched, but Chico State, as the Northern California's third seed, is favored. The one measure we have is a common opponent - Oregon State, the only other Pacific Northwest team in the union. The two Oregon teams played a home-and-away series to determine who advanced to play-ins, and they split the games. OSU won the first game 15-12, and then OU won the second 17-8 to win the series on point differential. Chico State had played OSU in a friendly 42-24 in February. It's not much to go on, but once again, the competitive NorCal structure has CSU better prepared for the game.
Should BYU and Chico State win their semis, they'll face each other in Saturday's play-in final, and both will advance to territorial playoffs, where they'll join Stanford and UC Davis. The play-in champion will play Davis, and the second-place team (likely Chico) will play Stanford on April 15. Should Davis and Chico meet in the third place match, the teams will have an opportunity to play a rematch of their 17-all tie earlier in the season.
Division II concluded its play-ins in mid-March, with Washington State securing the bid after a 29-5 win over Humboldt, Nor Cal's second-place team. The defending DII champion is favored in its semifinal against Santa Clara, which had beat Humboldt 15-12 at the end of the regular season to nab the top seed in Nor Cal. Western Washington had beaten WSU by one point last fall to set up its undefeated season, and will see Utah State tomorrow. Should the Pacific Northwest teams exit their semifinals victorious, an epic battle for the #1 seed into national will ensue. The two are longtime rivals, but regardless of the outcome, both will head to nationals.
Stay tuned later today for the outcomes of DI's playins; DII kicks off tomorrow in Utah.