It comes as no surprise that the Maryland v West Chester match was the game to watch at the DI women's college MARFU quarterfinals. Top teams Penn State, Virginia and Navy won their games easily, while the Terps held onto a 15-12 win over the Golden Rams.
Maryland was firing on all cylinders in the first half, putting up a quick penalty before running in another two tries and conversion to lead 15-0 at the break.
"I was pleased with the attacking decisions the team made to counter West Chester's defense and launch multiple, quick attacks," UMD coach Pamela Gouws said. "I was also happy with our organized defense that put pressure on West Chester by taking away attack opportunities."
WCU regrouped in the second half, and a more even game ensued. West Chester staged a steady attack into Maryland's red zone and saw Anna McGlade get over for a try. WCU became more disciplined and organized under pressure, and made Maryland work for any go-forward ball.
West Chester inched closer when the team used a deep clearing kick to build forward momentum toward the try line, which Maddie Kriebel eventually crossed for the try. But the Golden Rams couldn't close the three-point gap as time wore down, as too many turnovers and unforced errors handicapped the Pennsylvania team.
"Maryland played great defense today," West Chester coach Tony DeRemer said. "We usually feature a very productive offense, but Maryland came out with a game plan to stop us, and they did. Their offense also controlled the tempo of the game and starved our team of any offensive time with the ball."
With the win, Maryland will play Virginia in the semifinals this weekend. UVA defeated Princeton 32-5 in its quarterfinal, but the team exited the game slightly deflated.
In the first half, UVA had a ton of ball, and freshman scrumhalf Cameron Boland, who stepped in for injured halfback Stephanie Gordon, did an excellent job of orchestrating the attack. With flankers Rosa Bara-Moshi and MC Anderson protecting the physical yet polished #9, Boyland was able to distribute the ball cleanly to her backs, who scored all of the team's tries. Outside center Sharlyn Carter stood out on the day, while wing Minna Choi and Stephanie Chubb added five-pointers.
With a 27-0 halftime lead and the opportunity to rest starters who were still recovering from a bruising 27-17 win over Brown four days prior, UVA coach Nancy Kechner made some regretable decisions.
"The game went swimmingly in the first half," Kechner said, "but I made some poor substitutions in the second half that slowed our momentum. I wanted some fresh legs and to give some game time to kids who had been injured the last month, but it ended up destroying the fabric that was working."
The second half was marked by alot of penalties, and the referee had to conference with captains on three occasions for "repeated stupidity." UVA and Princeton scored five points apiece in the second half.
"I apologized for being a Debbie Downer," Kechner said, "but the team expects more from itself. At one point, I was five feet away from a scrum, and I said to Rosa [Bauer-Moshi], 'You look awful.' And she agreed - all of the forwards looked awful.
"The good thing is that they're hungry for the next game," Kechner looked ahead to Maryland. "If you score 70 points on an opponent, then it's hard to know where you're at. Now we know we need to improve our rucking and mental outlook, and I expect a good practice week."
UVA and Maryland played a few weeks ago, and Erica Cavanaugh's try in the last 30 seconds awarded UVA the narrow win. "We went into that knife fight with a spoon," Kechner said of the teams' last meeting. "We just need to do what we do well. It's a known fact that if you try to play someone else's game plan, then they're going to do it better than you. Maryland is big, physical, cohesive and well coached. It's going to be a good game, and whoever wins is in to nationals."
Penn State and Navy advance to the other semifinal after having trounced Virginia Tech 75-3 and James Madison 64-0 respectively. Since Penn State switched from the Potomac to the Eastern Pennsylvania union this year, a scenario that hasn't occured since the 2006 MARFU championship will take place: Penn State and Navy will not play in the final.