Young, experienced or wily veteran, the Banshees are working well together. Dropkick Photos.
Staying home while other teams play can be a good thing, at least it is for the Eastside Banshees.
The Minnesota club won their Midwest DII playoff game quite handily over Wisconsin 37-15 on Saturday.
The match between the two conference leaders in the Midwest-West meant Eastside has the top seed from that side of the Midwest competition come territorial playoff time next spring.
Wisconsin, meanwhile had another game to play Sunday, against Bremer County, which had squeaked by in its battle of #2 teams.
In that match, Wisconsin won 29-19, to take #2 in the Midwest-West, while Bremer County took third.
The fourth seed went to the South Side Irish, which had lost a close one to Bremer County on Saturday. The Irish played Milwaukee, winners over Des Moines on Saturday, and won 19-17.
So that left the Midwest-West seedings as:
3. Bremer County
4. South Side Irish
The East was a little more straightforward, as Michiana won that side of the bracket with a 58-8 defeat of Rochester. In the 3rd/4th game, Pittsburgh beat Dayton 30-19.
So next spring’s quarterfinals look like this:
South Side Irish @ Michiana
Bremer County @ Rochester, NY
Pittsburgh @ Wisconsin
Dayton @ Eastside Banshees
Eastside captain Garrett Schmidt credited his team’s success to the influx of youngsters from YoungBloodz, St. John’s University, and the Spearhead Rugby Academy.
“It’s been a pretty magical season,” Schmidt told RUGBYMag.com. “I think we knew we had a special group of guys at the beginning of the season. We had a lot of explosive players and some really talented rookies.”
Sam Augsberger stepped in at flyhalf to fill a need and has done superble, while Garrett Bender has been good wherever he has played, from center to No. 8.
But they were most worried about losing longtime prop Ryan Fitcher. But St. John’s product Nate Louwagie stepped in and “it’s like we never lost anything,” said Schmidt.
“We all get along,” added the captain. “Some guys are brand new. Some have been here for ten or 12 years. A few have been watching the Banshees since they were young and have ties to the team, and some have been playing since before I was born. You can’t argue with talent and a good personality, and we’ve got that.”
Eastside had some work to do, though. Coming into the match with undefeated Wisconsin the Banshees were 7-0-1, having tied Bremer County during the season.
“We knew coming in Wisconsin was a great team,” said Schmidt. “Their coach was a former Banshee. They have a lot of talent at flanker and eightman, and some talent in the backs. They totally controlled the ball for the 1st 15 minutes, but we were able to stop them. They got over the line and we kept holding them up.”
Eventually Wisconsin scored, but Eastside scored right after, with Mitchell Molloy slotting the difficult conversion, and they were off.
“That was a big momentum-changer for us,” Schmidt explained. “After that what I think really did it was our defense. We were coming up n the ball really well. All those drills where we job in a line as one for the full length of the field, and all the tackling drills came together.”