In two weeks time, we'll know which DI women's colleges will be heading to the round of 16. But after last weekend's playoffs, we already have a pretty good idea of who will move on.
Since the Northeast and Midwest named their champions last November, we've had to wait until late March before the brackets would start to fill out again. The West was the first to pencil in some more teams, having contested its territorial playoffs two weekends ago. All of the matches were thrilling, beginning with Colorado State's 12-10 win over rival Colorado, followed by New Mexico's 15-10 victory over Texas A&M during the semifinals. CSU had beaten UNM twice in regular season, and remained undefeated against the Lobos with a 7-0 win. The ramifications of those mere seven points are huge: New Mexico will see Army in the first round, while CSU will see the Mid-Atlantic's #3 team.
Not that MARFU's #3 team will be a treat. The Mid-Atlantic narrowed its potential national representatives down to four this weekend, with the local union leaders (Penn State, Navy and Virginia) winning their games easily (read more). Maryland knocked off West Chester with a 15-12 win in the fourth quarterfinal, and thus assumed the Golden Rams' spot on the Top 25. Maryland's been nipping at the heels of the rankings the last couple of weekends, especially after its 29-27 loss to Virginia. The Terps led until the final 30 seconds of the match, until UVA winger extraordinaire, Erica Cavanaugh, scored the go-ahead try. That near-loss could've hurt Virginia had the team not rallied with a 27-17 win last Tuesday against visiting Brown. Even though Brown was in the middle of spring break tour - playing a tough lineup against senior women's clubs - a loss is a loss, even if it's a friendly.
This weekend's semifinals will see Penn State take on Navy, and Virginia and Maryland in a rematch. For the first time since 2006, the Nittany Lions and midshipmen won't be playing each other for the MARFU title.
The South contested its playin round robin on Saturday, with North Carolina taking the bid to South semifinals after wins against Georgia and Florida (read more). The Tarheels started slowly in its first game against Georgia, winning only 10-0 and struggling with an unstable scrum. But the pieces came together in its second match against Florida, which UNC won 37-5, thanks in large part to wing Holly Zoeller's three-try performance. The South only sends one team to nationals, and it could likely come down to UNC and East Carolina, a newcomer to DI that has beaten the reigning South champions twice. UNC will play Clemson in its semifinal, and ECU will take on Central Florida.
The Pacific Coast concluded its playin round on Saturday, with BYU taking top honors after a 67-21 win over California, then a 39-10 victory over Chico State in the final (read more). The opposition's forwards posed some problems for BYU, and Friday's points-allowed against Cal is a product of that pressure. BYU coach Tom Waqa indicated that it wasn't the small technical issues he was worried about fixing; it was sustaining mental composure for a full 80 minutes that he'll be focusing on as the team prepares for UC Davis in two weeks. Chico State advances to the Pacific Coast semifinals as well, and has the arduous task of taking on Stanford, which tuned up with a game against Women's Premier club Berkeley two weekends ago, a match that yielded a 19-15 loss. The Pacific Coast sends three teams to nationals.
In other news, Michigan has been busy playing senior women's clubs this pre-season, defeating Chicago 84-15, and dropping games to Chicago North Shore (35-0) and Detroit (22-5). Michigan was missing a few starters in last weekend's match against Detroit, but coach Herb Reich was grateful for the experience that his players are reaping. Michigan continues its buildup toward nationals with a game against Scioto Valley Saturday.
Dartmouth knocked the snow of their boots the past couple of weekends, jumping into a spring break tour that took them to Delaware, women's DI club Philadelphia, and North Carolina. The Big Green downed Delaware 31-15, lost a mixed-side developmental game against Philly, then just lost to UNC 31-26.
Here is how the national Round of 16 looks so far:
#1 MARFU 1 v #16 Northern Iowa (Midwest 2)
#9 Dartmouth (Northeast 3) v #8 Pacific 2
#5 MARFU 2 v #12 Pacific 3
#13 Michigan (Midwest 1) v #4 Brown (Northeast 2)
#3 Army (Northeast 1) v #14 New Mexico (West 2)
#11 South 1 v UC #6 San Diego (So Cal 1)
#7 MARFU 3 v #10 Colorado State (West 1)
#15 UCLA (So Cal 2) v #2 Pacific 1
The quarterfinals will pit the two victors from each pool against each other.
Women DI College Top 25 - April 4, 2011
1 (1) Penn State (6-0) (12-3). Defeated Virginia Tech 75-3
2 (2) Army (8-0) (12-2). Defeated Navy 24-22
3 (5) Stanford (5-0) (8-5). Lost to Women's Premier club Berkeley 19-15
4 (4) BYU (2-0) (16-0). Defeated California 67-21, Chico State 39-10
5 (6) Virginia (5-0) (23-2). Defeated Princeton 32-5
6 (3) Brown (6-2) (12-5). Went 3-2 on spring break tour: 2-1 at Four Leaf 15s in Women’s Club division; Lost to UVA 27-17, defeated DI club NOVA 21-5
7 (7) Navy (2-0) (9-5). Lost 24-22 to Army, defeated James Madison 64-0
8 (8) UC San Diego (4-1) (8-3). Idle
9 (9) UCLA (4-1) (8-3). Idle
10 (10) UC Davis (3-1-1) (7-2-1). Idle
11 (12) Colorado State (6-2) (8-2). Defeated Colorado 12-10, New Mexico 7-0
12 (13) Chico State (3-2-2) (6-7-2). Defeated Oregon 62-5, lost to BYU 39-10
13 (14) Colorado (5-3) (10-4). Lost to Colorado State 12-10, defeated Texas A&M 25-12
14 (15) New Mexico (4-4) (5-4). Defeated Texas A&M 15-10, lost 7-0 to Colorado State
15 (16) East Carolina (4-0) (12-1). Idle
16 (17) North Carolina (5-1) (11-2). Defeated Georgia 10-0, Florida 37-5
17 (18) Michigan (7-1) (9-5-1). Lost to women's DI club Detroit 22-5
18 (11) Texas A&M (2-3) (12-4). Lost to UNM 15-10 in west semis; lost to CU 25-12 in 3rd
19 (19) California (2-3-1) (5-6-1). Lost to BYU 67-21 in Pac Coast playin semifinals, beat Oregon 85-0 for 3rd
20 (20) Northern Iowa (6-2) (11-4-1). Won March Madness tournament, lost to WPL Amazons 62-0, defeated Iowa State 42-0.
21 (21) Eastern Illinois (9-1). Idle
22 (22) Texas Tech (1-2) (4-4). Idle
23 (unr) Maryland (1-1) (7-7-1). Defeated West Chester 15-12, lost to UVA 29-27
24 (24) Grand Valley State (6-2) (8-2). Defeated Calvin College 85-0
25 (25) Dartmouth (5-3) (7-7). Defeated Delaware 31-15, lost to DI women's club Philadelphia and UNC 31-26