American International College, St. Michael’s College and Stonehill College women had established themselves as Rugby Northeast’s frontrunners. AIC and Stonehill played each other in week one, but SMC had yet to play either of their fellow league leaders until Saturday. The league was eager to see how SMC measured up, but the result was anticlimactic as the Yellow Jackets trounced St. Michael’s 44-0.
Fans might have preferred a closer match and more exciting stretch to the finish line, but AIC coach Josh Macy had prepared his team for the win.
“The team is feeling confident but wary,” Macy said prior to the match. “St. Michael's is an unknown being way up in Burlington, VT. We know they're strong out wide and we're readying ourselves for a great game. We've won all year by playing physical and maintaining possession, and I'm certain we'll have those two advantages this weekend. In our short history, our girls have always risen to challenges well and this week is no different.”
Mother Nature played into AIC’s hands. The snowstorm slowed down SMC’s outside attack and paved the way for AIC’s forward-oriented game plan (see video clip).
“The conditions played into our hand as the more physical team,” Macy said. “The girls maintained possession and played the ball in the first channel almost the entire game.”
No. 8 Jess Davis led her team with three tries, and a number of forwards stepped up to account for a couple of disciplinary player suspensions and injuries (AIC only had two subs).
“These next two weeks in our league are an exhibition of conference success,” Macy said. “Win and you’re in the championship. It could be any of the three of us. We couldn't have made this story up if we tried.”
This Saturday, Stonehill College and St. Michael’s College, both at 4-1, will play each other for the final berth to the RNE championship. The playoffs are only game long, and the winner moves straight to the national DII college championship in the spring.