Washington State entered the women’s DII college championship as the favorite, and they supported that belief with a 62-0 semifinal win over Buffalo.
A one-sided affair, the Cougars got up quickly as inside center Megan Bonny (2) and younger sister and No. 8 Savannah teamed up for the game’s first three tries.
“Megan Bonny is the leader of the team,” WSU flyhalf Anne Peterson said. “She gives everything. It shows on the scoreboard, but it shows in every ruck she’s in. She’s phenomenal, and I’m excited to play beside her.”
Peterson isn’t so bad herself. Stepping into the big shoes of alum Alexis Bonny, Peterson came to the Cougars from Tanzania, where she’d played the family sport her whole life. She was superb in the 10 spot, with a brilliant foot, expert pass and able field vision, and continually set up her teammates for linebreaks.
Washington State’s strength is certainly in their backs, who are able to keep the ball alive in traffic and give those crafty runners more chances to step around the defense. But WSU also has some nice forwards who were in Buffalo’s face all day causing problems. Mileka Grager is just one of them, but she represents the core of strong pack players who like to charge down the offense, steal the ball at the ruck, then drag defenders en route to the try zone.
“They came out with a lot of spirit,” Peterson said of the competition. “We needed to keep our intensity up the whole game, but I think today was on eof our top games this season. We stayed calm, utilized our strengths, and stuck to our game plan.”
Part of that game plan includes using defense as a means to get back on offense. Washington State isn’t used to playing much defense, but when the opportunities came, they were united and aggressive.
“We play most of our games on offense, but during practice we really focus on defense, and it was good today,” Peterson said. “As long as we do the basics, make our tackles, trust our teammates to make their tackles, we’ll do fine.”
Washington State was able to empty their bench and rest some players for tomorrow’s championship against Winona State. The teams haven’t played each other recently, but they do share Norwich in common. WSU played to a tight loss against Norwich in the semis; and then Winona lost big time to the Cadets in the final.
“Last year we were so close and we felt we had it taken away from us,” Peterson said. “Next year, we’re moving to DI, so this is our last chance to win it. DI’s going to be tough, but first we want to show we’re the top of DII and really give it our all.”
Check out Washington State vs. Buffalo photos here, and follow live updates tomorrow here: https://twitter.com/Rugby_Magazine