Pittsburgh coach Anthony Chappie was not satisfied with yesterday’s quarterfinal win against Santa Monica during the Women’s DII Club Championship, but he was also optimistic that a couple of starters who weren’t present until today would help with their outing against Albuquerque.
Former Collegiate All American and Penn State grad Lauren Rosso was one of those additions today and she accounted for two of Pittsburgh’s three tries for the 22-7 victory.
“Today was a much better show of how we play,” Chappie said. “We’re not the biggest team and sometimes we get in the habit of hitting too high and playing more of a wrestling match. But when we move the ball, we’re very successful.”
Albuquerque took some time to get any fluidity going in the backs, and it didn’t help that the flyhalf wasn’t distributing as much as she should have. Early in the game, the ball worked down a flat backline and Rosso picked off a pass that shouldn’t have been made. She scampered 50 meters for the try and inside center Barbara Woodbury converted, 7-0.
Pittsburgh kept up its good, quick ball from the breakdowns, and saw Rosso break away once again. As Albuquerque tackles fell to the wayside, a penalty was eventually drawn in front of the posts. Woodbury slotted it easily for the 10-0 lead.
Pittsburgh did an excellent job of keeping Albuquerque pinned its own end with a very effective kicking game. The Atomic Sisters did not build effective counter-attacks or use each other for sustainable possession.
One such kick saw Pittsburgh on Albuquerque’s 40 meter. The ball worked out to the backs, the flyhalf took advantage of an indecisive defense, then hit fullback Donita Thomas bursting on. Somehow, Thomas pulled the ball out of the tackle to find Rosso who was inserting from the weakside wing position. She turned the corner and outraced the defense for the try. Woodbury converted for the 17-0 lead into the break.
The 17-point cushion lent itself to some overconfidence and departure from the game plan come second half. And Albuquerque didn’t waste any time taking advantage.
From a lineout, the Atomic Sisters worked forward phases to the tryline and eventually worked the ball out to the flyhalf, who held the defense nicely before sending it to center Geneva Smith coming on at pace. Maria Dickinson made the conversion for the 17-7 scoreline.
“At times we play very, very well, and at time we lose our minds and quit doing what we’ve been doing all year,” Chappie said. “Later in the game, we were trying to run it out of our end, running it wide, instead of kicking and playing for position”
Pittsburgh inflated the point differential with minutes left in the match, sending Thomas into the try zone with a nice display of hands 10 meters out, 22-7.
Pittsburgh will face Raleigh, which defeated Sacramento 27-26 in their semifinal, in the championship match tomorrow. Pittsburgh is very familiar with the Venom, having defeated the North Carolina on a last-minute penalty for third place.
“Raleigh is a good, solid team all the way through,” Chappie said. “We’re a little better this year and have more pace. Last year, we didn’t have a lot of speed out wide, but we’ve added two new wingers who can get long tries if we can get the ball wide.”
The championship occurs at 11 a.m. tomorrow.