Women's College

Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 09 December 2013 12:29    PDF Print Write e-mail
ACRA Championships: Points Leaders
Colleges - Women's College

Below are the player points statistics for the American Collegiate Rugby Associations DI and DII championships:

Division I Championship: Player Points Statistics
Player Team T C P Total
Roose, Kate Army 5 0 0 25
McCardle, Angie Northern Iowa 1 3 2 17
Bernheim, Rose Norwich 3 0 0 15
Clark, Joya Norwich 3 0 0 15
Emerson, April Army 3 0 0 15
Nye, Crystal Northern Iowa 3 0 0 15
McCracken, Betsy Army 0 4 1 11
Bell, Hannah Norwich 0 5 0 10
Jeppson, Dakota Northern Iowa 2 0 0 10
Martin, Jessi Northern Iowa 2 0 0 10
McGuire, Val Norwich 2 0 0 10
Mundell, Sophie Norwich 2 0 0 10
Pedersen, Erika Navy 2 0 0 10
Wilson, Allison Army 2 0 0 10
Hitt, Juliann Navy 1 1 0 7
Blankenship, Riley Norwich 1 0 0 5
Brown, Becca Northern Iowa 1 0 0 5
Caid-Loos, Mariah Army 1 0 0 5
Crichlow, Shantel Army 1 0 0 5
Derocher, Jackie Norwich 1 0 0 5
Flanigan, Meghan Northern Iowa 1 0 0 5
Kleinschmidt, Karissa Navy 1 0 0 5
Snapp, Sierra Navy 1 0 0 5
Division II Championship: Player Points Statistics
Player Team T C P Total
Kwateng, Margaret Vassar 7 0 0 35
Long, Hannah Notre Dame 3 0 0 15
Porter, Gerogia Winona 3 0 0 15
Vassar, Holly Winona 3 0 0 15
Zimmer, Holly Winona 0 3 3 15
Bucki, Lyndsey Winona 2 0 0 10
Edelburg, Holly Winona 2 0 0 10
Hughes, Faith Kutztown 2 0 0 10
Kroneberger, Stephanie Notre Dame 2 0 0 10
McElduff, Mary Vassar 0 4 0 8
Delong, Nicole Kutztown 1 1 0 7
Courtney, Caitlin Winona 1 0 0 5
Davis, Katie Kutztown 1 0 0 5
Gauthreaux, Hannah Notre Dame 1 0 0 5
Lindberg, Nikki Winona 1 0 0 5
Ludwick, Kate Kutztown 1 0 0 5
Norman, Sydney Winona 1 0 0 5
Rudman, Kayla Notre Dame 1 0 0 5
Tolton, Jessica Kutztown 1 0 0 5
Walsh, Lea Notre Dame 1 0 0 5
Schmidt, Christina Notre Dame 0 2 0 4

Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 09 December 2013 10:56    PDF Print Write e-mail
ACRA All Tournament Selections
Colleges - Women's College

The American Collegiate Rugby Association (ACRA) named all-tournament teams, sportsmanship awards and MVPs for the DI and DII championships, held last weekend in Auburndale, Fla. Each coach selected a certain amount of his/her players based on the team's finish: 4th place received two spots, 3rd place three, 2nd place four, and 1st place named six players.

First-year team Notre Dame College named (l-r) Kayla Rudman, Rebecca Swainson, Maddie Goodwin and Hannah Long to the DII All-Tournament Team. (Paul Rudman photo)

DI Sportsmanship Awards
Navy: Karissa Kleinschmidt – flanker
Northern Iowa: Meghan Flanigan – inside center
Army: Andrea Bagley – flanker
Norwich: Shanoui Gunn – flanker

DI All-Tournament Team

Erika Pedersen – No. 8
Sierra Snapp – wing

Northern Iowa
Crystal Nye – flanker
Melissa Janss – fullback
Eileen Lieb – flanker

Betsy McCracken – prop
Melissa Thom – lock
April Emerson – flyhalf
Kate Roose – wing

Sophie Mundell – flanker
Val McGuire – lock
Hannah Bell – flyhalf
Rose Bernheim – fullback
Joya Clark – wing
Baylee Annis – prop

DI Championship MVP: Sophie Mundell

DII Sportsmanship Awards
Kutztown: Faith Hughes – lock
Vassar College: Margaret Kwateng – scrumhalf
Notre Dame College: Mariah Eckrich – scrumhalf
Winona: Emilee Burkhalter – hooker

DII All-Tournament Team
Faith Hughes – lock
Tabetha Super – outside center

Margaret Kwateng – scrumhalf
Meg Slattery – flanker
Dallas Robinson – No. 8

Notre Dame College
Hannah Long – No. 8
Maddie Goodwin – flanker
Rebecca Swainson – flanker
Kayla Rudman – hooker

Heather Kohl – fullback
Georgia Porter – scrumhalf
Lyndsey Bucki – wing
Kathryn Zahn – prop
Rachel Hunter – prop
Holly Vassar – flanker

DII Championship MVP: Holly Vassar

Written by Jackie Finlan    Monday, 09 December 2013 10:20    PDF Print Write e-mail
Winona Takes Its Reward
Colleges - Women's College

It has been quite the journey for Winona. The Minnesotans have been back-to-back-to-back DII finalists (the first two with USA Rugby), only to fall one game short of perfection – until yesterday. Winona defeated Notre Dame College 28-14 in the American Collegiate Rugby Association DII final.

Winona scrumhalf Georgia Porter gets the ball out during the final. (Paul Rudman photo)
The palm-off, a Hannah Long specialty. (Paul Rudman photo)
Nikki Lindberg touches down the game-ender and Winona celebrates. (Paul Rudman photo)

All odds favored Winona, but Notre Dame, a first-year program, didn’t heed those prejudices. Young but very athletic, Notre Dame College weathered a first quarter inside their 22 meter, repeatedly repelling Winona from crossing their try line, while the favorites racked up the penalties.

At 15:30, some good midfield work sucked in enough defense to give outside center Hannah Gauthreaux a little room to the sideline. She took the corner, pushed out of contact and turned it on for 60 meters. Wing Christina Schmidt – who replaced concussed wing Brittany Kapsalis and brought a great boot to the Falcons’ arsenal – converted for the 7-0 lead.

“Yeah, there were some nerves, at least from me,” Winona scrumhalf Georgia Porter said after the score. “We were down in the try zone just saying that we had to have faith in each other and keeping playing as a team, not individuals. We knew that their outside center and No. 8 were good players, and we tried to focus on not clumping on defense and taking players on, because we knew we could be beat on the outside.”

Winona got a boost when wing Lyndsey Bucki darted down the sideline, swallowed up by Gauthreaux about 10 meters out. Inside center Holly Edelburg was on her heels, picked from the base and barreled into the try zone, 7-5.

Winona was still a little soft on defense. The fringe wasn’t busting off the line and the tackles were high, allowing Notre Dame’s tough forwards – Hannah Long, Maddie Goodwin, Rebecca Swainson, Lucinda Davell, Keke O'Neal and flyhalf Lea Walsh – to fight through contact.

With about five minutes left on the clock, the Falcons turned over a ruck on Winona's 22 meter and then earned a penalty. Well in range for points, the team ignored the sideline’s pleas and instead put the ball in Long’s hands. It was the right choice, as the eightman blew through the line for the try, and Schmidt converted, 14-5.

The turning point followed. With little time left on the clock, Winona could have just played for the halftime break and regrouped with the help of coaches. Instead, the Black Katts got into Notre Dame’s half, spun the ball from sideline to sideline, cycling it through everyone’s hands. After some nice forward punches in the middle of the field, center Caitlin Courtney bounced off a tackle and hit Bucki for a drive to the line. Replacement hooker Sydney Norman picked from the base and dove over for the try, 14-10.

“We had 10 minutes at halftime, and we said we had to secure the ball and do what we knew worked for us,” Porter said. “[In the first half] we tried to play their game and tried to offload it and pop it up, but that’s not how we play. We had to bring the ball down, ruck it and secure it.”

Cleaning up those breakdowns was the key to Winona’s success, as the majority of the second 40 was spent in Notre Dame’s end. The score might have been higher if penalties didn’t slow the Black Katts’ go-forward, but the points still came.

Lock Holly Zimmer closed the gap to one when, after some good ball movement, Gauthreaux attempted to pick off a pass to Courtney and instead drew the penalty in front of posts, 14-13.

The Falcons kept trying to steal the ball in contact rather than taking big runners like Rachel Hunter, Kourtney Kavajzecz and Zimmer to the ground immediately and forcing quick support in the ruck. That allowed Winona to suck in more defenders around the breakdown and give deft piercers like tournament MVP  Holly Vassar and Nadia Nassif room to strike.

Notre Dame was poised for a scrum near their 10 meter, but Winona drove over the ball and marched to the line for Porter to dive over, 18-14. At the 62-minute mark, Winona reiterated that the forwards worked better as a unit, driving in a beautiful lineout maul for Vassar to dot down, 23-14.

Notre Dame came to Florida with only 20 players and had lost an important player to injury on Saturday. While the Falcons were fit and determined, they couldn’t withstand the long defensive campaigns as Winona cycled in some fresh legs. Winona sent a Notre Dame scrum on wheels and continually swallowed up Gauthreaux as she tried to pull her team out of danger.

Courtney smothered the former track star in the try zone, setting up a five-meter scrum to Winona. Porter sent the ball weakside and wing Nikki Lindberg finished off the game with a corner try, 28-14.

“It was our time to win it,” Porter said after her third consecutive trip to the DII final. “As a freshman, it was new and exciting, and I was just happy to be at nationals. But now as a junior, as an upperclassman, I wanted first place; it wasn’t enough to just be here. We all wanted it."

Written by Jackie Finlan    Monday, 09 December 2013 01:38    PDF Print Write e-mail
Error-Ridden ACRA Final Goes to Norwich
Colleges - Women's College

It was not a pretty game. Familiar foes, Norwich and Army, met in the American Collegiate Rugby Association DI final today, and every possession was a fight.

Neither side settled into a rhythm, but the Vermont Cadets were more dynamic when the passes connected, and they played a little faster, a little crisper than West Point for the 32-15 win.

But, boy, were there a lot of errors. Some were at the hands of the attackers – long spiral passes that landed between teammates, miscommunication that saw a would-be switch end in a pass to touch, forward-pass penalties, the works. And some of the choppy nature resulted from tenacious defenses that looked to steal every ball that hit the ground or at least punish the rucker who tried to secure the ball.

“They’re a military academy, we’re a military college; we’re tough girls,” Norwich flanker and MVP Sophie Mundell explained the game’s scrappy nature. “We go to the gym, we work out, and we don’t hesitate to go into the tackle with everything we’ve got.”

Army was more successful in the first quarter, spending the majority of that time in Norwich’s end. Norwich lock Val McGuire sent a booming penalty kick into Army’s end to relieve some pressure, and wing Shantel Crichlow scooped it up as it dribbled to West Point’s 22 meter. She found fullback Mariah Caid-Loos (who later came off with an injury), who wove through a maze of defenders, eventually popping out to face opposite Rose Bernheim, who is as sure as they come in tracking down open-field tackles.

Army did well to retain possession in the subsequent phases, sending bullet after bullet into the goal-line defense, but Norwich didn’t budge. Finally, the attack integrated the width, and flyhalf April Emerson spied a crack. She darted through for the opening points, 5-0.

“I knew the big thing was to gain momentum,” Emerson said. “I saw the opening and I went for it. Get the advantage, and we used that [momentum] for a while.”

Although Army did well to mix up its attack during the build-up to that score, one typically successful weapon was silenced: Kate Roose. The winger scored five tries against Navy by overwhelming the outside defense on pure pace, but Jackie Derocher and Joya Clark were too fast to be skirted around. While Crichlow and fellow back Allison Wilson were able to employ a stiff-arm for more yardage, none could get past Bernheim. Roose is also young. While she has great flat-out speed, she hasn’t developed a step and lacked confidence when the sideline closed off.

Norwich kept pushing back, garnering some momentum on their excellent lineouts and stealing some of Army’s. A nice piercing run from Sabrina Villaneuva saw the prop offload to the backs in fast support, eventually ending in Bernheim’s hands. The fleet-footed fullback took to the sideline and raced into the try zone. Flyhalf Hannah Bell converted for the 7-5 lead. Norwich added another quick try before the half to go up 12-5.

The second-half kickoff is always an interesting one, especially when extended to 10 minutes: Adrenaline has slipped from the body, coaches’ insight has enlightened players, and momentum is up for grabs. Norwich had no intention of letting Army close the gap, and from the restart, the ball swung wide to Derocher, who turned a flat line into a defense-splitting run, then offloaded to McGuire who was at full speed. No stopping her, 17-5.

“We’ve designated ourselves a second-half team,” Mundell said. “When we played down in North Carolina [for the USA Rugby 7s Championship], we came from behind in four of our six games. We knew we could come back, so it wasn’t a big deal. We keep our calm; we keep our heads and come back.”

Army got together in the try zone and realized that if they didn’t respond instantly, then the point differential would get out of hand.

From Norwich’s 22 meter, inside center Ally Day, who returned to the backline after sitting out yesterday’s semifinal, didn’t find touch on the clearing kick, and Army plucked the ball out of the air. The West Pointers received a penalty when Clark failed to release in the tackle, and Army’s Betsy McCracken sent a long-range kick downfield for the lineout. Army worked the width, pummeled the try line, then got the ball to Crichlow, who had space against a stretched defense. She cut back inside and dotted down the try for McCracken to convert, 17-12.

It wasn’t long before Army was back in striking distance, but they just couldn’t get a consistent go-forward. Finally, Mundell stepped into the passing lane as Army’s line got a little flat, but the intentional knock-on occurred right in front of the posts. Easy points for McCracken, 17-15.

With tensions peaking once again, the play started to degrade – the breakdowns were generally sloppy and slow as the defenses looked to poach, and while there were mini-breaks on offense, they didn’t connect.

McGuire had a pretty fantastic game, and her stiff-arms laid the groundwork for the next score. A monster run got Norwich to the try line, and Army withstood that pummeling attack. The Cadets sent the ball wide, and although Day’s pass sent Clark scrambling backward, the wing turned it around for a corner try, 22-15.

Clark was in the middle of the next score (at 76 minutes) as she recycled the ball in tight with outside center Emily Colesworthy along the sideline. As Army swarmed, Norwich formed a line that stretched the width of the field, and the players used it. Mundell and Baylee Annis were on the end, and the duo teamed up to pu the prop into the try zone, 27-15.

Cherry on top was the try in injury time, as more McGuire stiff-arms opened up a lane for the oncoming Riley Blankenship, who is just as unwieldy as her second row when she’s moving at full speed. The No. 8 dotted down and that was the game, 32-15.

“We couldn’t take them lightly,” Mundell said. “We knew they were going to come out with a hunger to beat us. We knew that we needed to win and that’s what we did. 

“It feels good to come back and get a win here,” Mundell reflected on last season’s DI final loss to Penn State. “It was nice to get a win against Penn State in North Carolina. … I’ve never won anything this big, so to come here and have this opportunity with this great group of girls is awesome.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of the girls,” Emerson said. “We’ve dealt with a lot this season – a lot of injuries. We knew this was going to be a tough game and we gutted it out. Norwich is a great team and I think we played one of our best games of the season.”

History’s been written today: Norwich is the first DI ACRA champion and now have 7s to look forward to in the spring.

Written by Jackie Finlan    Saturday, 07 December 2013 23:37    PDF Print Write e-mail
Black Katts Poised for 3rd D2 Final
Colleges - Women's College

Winona gets its shot tomorrow. After defeating Kutztown 52-17 in the American Collegiate Rugby Association's DII semifinal, the Black Katts will make a third run at a title. The Pennsylvania side made a brave showing, debuting on the national stage and showcasing one of the hardest hitting packs in the tournament.

Paul Rudman photoOne of the biggest disparities in skill came in the form of kicking. Generally not known for their territorial game, the acquisition of Katie Dries at flyhalf has allowed Winona to develop their kick-and-chase. Kutztown not only lost their best kicker but also one of their best players, flyhalf Mary Cate Matta, during the ACRA quarterfinals. The deficit was evident.

However, Kutztown did not do a good job of simply fielding the booming kicks from Dries, and fullback Shannon Millar misjudged several receipts. Millar and new flyhalf Beth Mulleady were unsuccessful in their clearing kicks (scrumhalf Sharyn Beodeker eventually took over), which helped set up Winona scrumhalf Georgia Porter’s first try.

“Georgia always impresses me,” said Winona flanker and standout on the day, Holly Vassar. “She never gets enough credit. She’s really good at looking up, seeing the field, knowing exactly where the ball needs to go and getting it there. She’s able to step in and poach – she’s basically a forward and a back, and we’ve never had a scrumhalf like that before.”

From the kickoff, Winona stole possession from the subsequent maul, then worked the ball through Holly Edelburg, Heather Kohl and Caitlin Courtney. From a lineout in Kutztown’s end, Vassar eventually dove over after a series of pick-and-goes. Zimmer hit the conversion, 12-0.

A monster Dries kick set up Courtney’s try, which came after a couple of hefty stiff-arms, and fellow center Edelburg followed with a five-pointer after dummying through the middle. In addition to conversions, Zimmer slotted a penalty after a couple of not-releasing penalties from Kutztown, 29-0.

Kutztown was prone to those penalties, as a couple of quick-taps turned into unsupported breakaways. The ballcarrier, once dragged down, had no choice but to hold onto the ball, and the penalties followed.

Kutztown was most successful when they kept the ball in tight and worked their powerful pick-and-go series. The entire pack was agile and tough – attributes that also played out in their stronger scrum – and every outlet pass led to meters. Winona struggled to halt those drives, and got lucky a couple of times when a turnover did the work of a poach or positive tackle.

But just before the half, Kutztown was rewarded for a disciplined drive, as hooker Katie Davies dove over for the try, 29-5 into the break.

“They were a real big challenge, especially with the consistent picking and going from the forwards,” Vassar said. “Being on defense, having to back up, adjust and slide – we never played anyone like that before.”

Tackling started to degrade in the second half, and Vassar and Porter added their second tries of the game, while Zimmer hit her second penalty, 42-5.

Kutztown lock Faith Hughes – probably the biggest thorn in Winona’s side – capitalized on a miss pass and some penalties, barreling through a weakened, scattered defense for the team’s penultimate try, 42-10. But Winona wing Lyndsey Bucki answered with back-to-back scores, getting two great offloads from Zimmer and Vassar and outracing everyone to the finish line, 52-10.

Kutztown had the last say, though, sending flanker Jess Tolton over after back-to-back Winona penalties. Nicole Delong converted for the 52-17 final.

“In the end, we were more physically fit,” Vassar said. “And we were more settled. It was their first time here, so it makes sense that their nerves were up a bit.”

“We’re nervous and excited; it’s our third time,” Vassar looked ahead to the final. “We always do well on the first day, and then the next day, we’re so excited to be in the final that we don’t realized that we could lose. And then it happens and we beat up on ourselves. But this year, we’ve been talking about how to keep our mental focus for the second day.”

Winona will face Notre Dame College, which defeated Vassar 34-10 today, in the D2 final, which kicks off at 12 p.m. ET tomorrow.

Winona 52
Tries: Porter 2, Vassar 2, Bucki 2, Courtney, Edelburg
Cons: Zimmer 3
Pens: Zimmer 2

Kutztown 17
Tries: Davies, Hughes, Tolton
Cons: Delong


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