Top Seeds Hold Strong In Spring Championship Playoffs

The matchups have been set for the 2019 Spring Championships.

The Spring Collegiate Playoffs, commenced over the weekend, with teams searching for a spot at the Championship Weekend, May 3-4, in Matthews, North Carolina. Across the three divisions Men’s D1AA, Women’s D1 and D2, there was plenty of exciting rugby, with the higher seeds justifying their rankings.

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Men’s D1AA:

Chico State and Dartmouth, will square off for the 2019 Men’s D1AA Spring Championship, after cruising through their matches over the weekend. Dartmouth won convincingly in the East. In their first fixture they took down eight-seed, Sam Houston State 53-5. Outside Center Jasper Green was the standout in the opening round, scoring a hat trick in just under 50 minutes. Their opponent in the semifinal would be Central Florida, after they beat Iowa State. The Knights victory came in large part due to Hooker, Michael MacNeil’s two tries. Dartmouth romped home in the semifinal, 57-17. It was a close encounter for the first 50 minutes, with only Central Florida holding the lead heading into the final half hour. However, 39 unanswered points in 29 minutes saw Dartmouth advance through.

On the western side of the bracket, Chico State were able to pull through and qualify for the championship match. They won their quarterfinal against Kansas 24-7, with a big performance from their standout flyhalf, Anton Holm. Their opponent would be Long Beach State, after they survived a close encounter against Western Washington, 30-24. With 20 minutes left they trailed by nine points. However, Toa Leuta and Steven Bodley stepped up to the plate, in order to overcome the deficit. In the semifinal it was another close match, with Chico State clinging on to win by two points, 24-22. Chico State burst out to an early 24-3 lead, thanks mainly to a hat trick from number eight, Matthew Mulholland. It looked like they’d be able to cruise to victory but Long Beach scored 19 points in the final 15 minutes to give Chico State a scare.

Women’s D1:

BYU and Virginia Tech, emerged as the two Spring Championship contenders after this weekend’s quarterfinals and semifinals. BYU, in their first year outside of D1 Elite, stormed through their matches, relatively unopposed. They shut Stanford out 65-0 in their opening fixture. It was a complete team performance, with nine players scoring tries. Their opponent would be Santa Barbara, after they won convincingly over Chico State, 45-24. Naomi Carillo was the standout in the match, scoring five tries. In the semifinal BYU once again stood head and shoulders above their competition, winning 49-7.  The forwards were the stars of the show for BYU, as six out of their starting eight crossed for a try.

Virginia Tech, did not have an easy time making their way through the quarters and semis, but they were still able to demonstrate how classy they are. In their first match, they faced their fiercest rival, Virgina, beating them 29-20. It looked like it would be a blowout early, when the Hokies shot out to a 29-8 lead. However, a strong closing 30 minutes from Virginia made things a little too close for comfort. Eventually, Kirnjot Kaur’s two try performance was enough to see them over the line. Their opponent would be Central Florida, after they dominated James Madison 73-5. In large part due to Donneisha Smith’s hattrick. The semifinal was one way traffic from the beginning. Virginia Tech opened the game scoring 29 unanswered, before the final minutes provided a bit more competition, with the final score reading 34-12. The centers pairing of Congetta Owens and Gabrielle Vitale, did most of the damage and combined for 24 points. 


Women’s D2:

The semifinals for the Women’s D2 Spring Championships, will see Fresno State taking on Tulane and Eckerd playing Salisbury. Fresno State’s road to the semis began with an impressive win over Long Beach State, 90-22.  Hat tricks from Laura Ellison-Seger and Meaghan Gallagher helped Fresno win their first game. Their quarterfinal opponents would be Saint Mary’s, after the Gaels took down last year’s runner-up, Claremont, 64-21. Four tries from loosehead prop, Kristina Tomelloso were crucial to their win. The quarterfinal was a high scoring affair, but Fresno were still convincing in their win, 59-34. Up until the 70th minute only two points separated the two teams, but four tries in the final ten minutes helped push Fresno into the semis.

Their opponent in the semifinals will be Tulane, after the dismantled Kansas State, 68-5. Inside Center Rohen Turner scored 28 points in the win, while fullback Gwendolyn  Leifer, scored a hat trick.

On the other side of the bracket, Eckerd advanced through two impressive showings. Their first win came against George Washington, 84-10. Katherine Scheerer and Stephanie Franz combined for 59 points, with their first 36 points being the first 36 points scored in the game. Scheerer would go on to score 44 points. Their quarterfinal opponent would be Costal Carolina, after they beat William and Mary 20-17. Daisy Rickett’s try in the 61st minute proving to be the difference. The quarterfinal was another lopsided win for Eckerd, they advanced 53-12. Scheerer again the standout with 31 points.

Eckerd will now face Salisbury in the semifinals, after Salisbury took down Georgia, 55-27. Fullback Haley Sheldon scored 20 points in the win.