Game of the weekend will come down to Maryland v West Chester.
By Jackie Finlan
The Mid-Atlantic's DI women's colleges start whittling down its contenders for nationals, as the quarterfinals kick off Saturday. The LAU champions are heavy favorites in their matches, but the Maryland vs West Chester game will most likely produce the closest matchup.
UMD and West Chester haven't seen each other since early last fall, when the Golden Rams edged the Terps 24-22. But that was a long time ago. Maryland is coming off a big game with Virginia, a friendly that ended in a 29-27 victory to UVA.
"It was one of those matches where the team that made the least amount of errors won the match," Maryland coach Pamela Gouws said. "Both UVA and Univ of Maryland had many turnover balls, and we each capitalized on each other's mistakes and lapses in focus."
Both teams scored five tries and the win came down to conversions. "From a coach's point of view, many of these errors were frustrating to watch as they were elementary lapses in focus," Gouws continued. "However, the match was hard fought and exciting to the very end. Quite a difference from the team that came out during the VWIT tournament! [UVA coach] Nancy Kechner expressed her good thoughts on the transformation of the team from VWIT weekend to this weekend. I am very proud of our team."
West Chester has only played one pre-season match against Temple, which the Rams won 63-0. But the varsity team has a little more experience in the post-season and at nationals, so even though UMD has shown vast improvement in the last couple of weeks, the slight edge goes to the EPRU #2 team.
Navy is coming off a successful spring break tour to Ireland in which the Midshipmen defeated Longford 19-5 and Tuam 65-0. The team followed with a 24-22 loss to Army last weekend, and showed that reinstated head coach Sue Parker has her team moving in the right direction. James Madison University, the VRU's third seed, shouldn't be much of a problem for Navy.
Penn State played a very tough schedule in Italy, taking on top clubs around the country and racking up a 1-2 record. No doubt the Nittany Lions have exited their spring break tour a stronger, more cohesive unit, much to the peril to Virginia Tech. PSU's depth and quality is unrivaled, and the team will lean on notables Lisa Henneman, Sadie Anderson and Deven Owsiany, who returns from the Hong Kong 7s.
VRU leader Virginia is also favored in its match against Princeton, although Kechner is by no means taking the game lightly. In years past, Princeton has thwarted UVA's advancement through nationals, and the team, which is coming off a 27-17 win over Brown, isn't taking any chances. UVA is dealing with a couple of important injuries - notably in captain Jen Van - but the small, speedy team will likely see its way into the semifinals next weekend.
MARFU Women DI College Quarterfinals
James Madison @ Navy
Virginia Tech @ Penn State
Princeton @ Virginia
West Chester @ Maryland