On a warm and sunny Fall day, the National Small College Rugby Organization's (NSCRO) Divisions 3 and 4 Women's Collegiate Championships were concluded.
The Minnesota RFU Champ Carleton College (Northfield, MN) pull away in the second half from the East Penn RU Champ Lock Haven University (Lock Haven, PA) 59 to 7 to win the Division 3 National Championship. While in the Division 4 National Championship, the New England RFU Champ Johnson State College (Johnson, VT) held off the East Penn RU Champ Albright College (Reading, PA) 12 to 5 to claim the title.
In Saturday's D3 semifinals, Lock Haven took an early lead against the New York State RC Champion St. Bonaventure University (Olean, NY) and held off a second half rally to win 36-10. Carleton then faced the New England RFU Champion, Wentworth Institute of Technology (Boston, MA) and seemed to have the match under control as they took a 29-5 second half lead. All of a sudden about 10 minutes into the second half, WIT put their foot 'on the pedal' and played on their front foot without stopping and ran in 3 tries. They came up short in the end 29-22.
On Sunday, Lock Haven faced Carleton in the D3 final under the watchful eye of referee Pete Hesler. If you ever wondered what solid coaching can do for a collegiate club, look no further than Carleton College. They showed solid skills in all phases while not always producing the results they wanted, they never yielded and showed ball handling skills rarely seen at this level. Carleton's lock Avery Johnson picked up the ball at the back of ruck and powered in from 5 meters to give her team a 5-0 led 3 minutes into the match. Haven's inside center Kayla Robison responded with a strong 30 meter run and with the conversion Carleton was down 7-5. For the next 10 minutes the team pushed into each other's end only to be stopped. Another goal line ruck found Avery Johnson with the ball and again she could not be stopped from scoring and give her team a 10-7 lead. Flyhalf Robin Burrell picked up a loose ball and scampered 10 meters to score and with the conversion by winger Adriane Kisch-Hancock, Carleton took a 17 to 7 led at halftime.
The second half showed Lock Haven was ready to come back but despite their strong attacks they could not score. Arden Caffrey, Carleton's no. 8, scored a fine try 12 minutes into the half with another Kisch-Hancock conversion, it was 24-7. Carleton's pressure and quick passing started paying off and they ran into 5 more tries, all converted to pull away to a 59 to 7 win and end a perfect season with no losses and a National Championship.
In an excellent match for 3rd place, Wentworth scored a late try to edge St. Bonaventure 19 to 17. Both teams had something to prove after losing in the semifinals and both did so. Both clubs showed their mettle and the match went up and down the field.
Carleton's Arden Caffrey was named MVP, while Lock Haven's outstanding flanker, Erin Smith, was awarded the game ball.
In the Division 4 Championship match, with a large contingent of fans from both sides along with school mascots (the Albright Lion and Johnson State Badger) cheering the teams, referee Terry Haas's whistle started what was to be a very entertaining match. Johnson State winger Miranda Ingram broke 2 tackles to give her team a 5-0 lead 10 minutes into the first half. Albright, which was dominant in their D4 season in the EPRU, responded and drove to the goal line but the Badger defense stopped the Lions time and again. The score held up at halftime. Center Nora Wynter showed great athletic prowess and was able to lead the Johnson State backs on attack after attack by continually breaking the gainline. Wynter broke through a 20 meter run scoring a fine try and with the conversion made it 12-0. The score stood up until Albright's scrumhalf Jessica Tain recovered her own pop kick in-goal at the end of the match...making the final score 12-5. Johnson State's rugby club was started in 2009 and now 2 year later...they are the Division 4 National Champion. Way to go Badgers!
Johnson States's inside center Zahara "Nora" Wynter was named MVP, while Albright's Jessica was awarded the game ball.
A crowd of nearly 200 spectators, including friends and families of the players, enjoyed the action on the field and the crowning of the 2 National Championships.
DVDs of the D3 semifinals and both finals can be purchased from NSCRO. A DVD Order form is available at www.nscro.org.
NSCRO Tips Its Hat to....
All of the participating teams for proving how big small colleges are when it comes to rugby....with excellent rugby skills and sportsmanship on and off the field.
Kate Hallinan and the Philadelphia Women's RFC for hosting the event and making all of the teams feel welcome. For more information about the club, go to www.pwrfc.org.
Quinn Conaboy, Pete Hesler and the South Jersey RFC for providing their excellent rugby facility for the event. For more information about the club, go to www.southjerseyrugby.org.
BC Productions for their professional and quality video coverage. For more information go to http://www.bbcstudio.com/.
NSCRO Commentators Phaidra Knight and Matt Robinette for their expert match commentary.
Stacie Anastasio, ATC for her handling of player injuries and pre-match preparations.
Kathryn T Gollotto, DO who was available to triage injuries. Dr. Gollotto is Board Certified & Fellowship trained in Sports Medicine and is associated with Reconstructive Orthopedics - the most comprehensive and sub-specialty trained orthopedic practice in Southern New Jersey. The practice has six office locations throughout Burlington, Camden & Gloucester counties. To learn more about Reconstructive Orthopedics visit www.reconstructiveortho.com.
The Referees...Terry Haas, Pete Hesler and Richard Cobb.
The Assistant Referees...Chey Coats, Tim Burdick and Quinn Conaboy.
My wife Carol...for her continual patience and tolerance as I spend countless hours working to provide a quality rugby experience for small colleges.
For more information about the NSCRO, please go to our website at http://www.nscro.org
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