Davenport, Mary Washington, Winona and UWW crowned fall champions in South Carolina

Women’s D1 Final:

Notre Dame Vs. Davenport:

Nerves were evident early on in the first moments of the game when Notre Dame dropped the opening kick off. Great line speed and pressure from Davenport’s defensive line sent Notre Dame back further and further into their own half. The pressure paid off and forced a Notre Dame error. Davenport was clinical from the set piece with a beautiful try from Danielle Ordway cutting through the defense like a hot knife through butter.
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It didn’t take long for Ordway to get herself back in the action, off the ensuing kick off she ran the ball out from her own half to unselfishly offload the ball to her support. Their lead increased to 14 points after 5 minutes.  

Notre Dame’s inability to get passed the advantage line hurt their chances of applying any pressure to Davenport, as the Fighting Irish continued to find themselves pinned inside their own 22. The Irish were bailed out by strong running from their number 8 Grace McGurn, however, outside of McGurn there was a clear lack of go-forward from the Irish. 

Davenport’s defense was again able to force errors and then it was back to their typical attack pattern; use their size advantage in the forwards to draw the defense into the middle of the field, and then exploit their speed on the outside. Ordway crossing in the 14th minute to score her second try of the contest, pushing the lead out to 19. 3 minutes later it was Ordway back in the middle of the action intercepting a pass and strolling over the line, to bag herself a hat trick before the first 20 minutes had been played. 

The next was a clinic in penalty kicking with Davenport adding two penalties to their tally and Notre Dame was able to convert their first foray into the Davenport 22 into 3 points. Just as it looked as if Notre Dame might have had momentum on their side, errors continued to plague them and gave up a try right under the sticks. 10 minutes left in the first stanza and Davenport was up 39-3. 

As the fog started to roll into the stadium Notre Dame was able to exploit the low visibility and cause an uncharacteristic mistake from Davenport. Barnstorming runs from the Notre Dame forward pack eventually lead to a penalty try being awarded, handing the Irish 7 points and a one-woman advantage. Davenport gave Notre Dame a taste of their own medicine and used the low visibility to their advantage, then big running Hunter Moreland helped to set up the try for Davenport. As the teams went in for orange slices Davenport was up 44-10. 

The second half couldn’t have started any better for the Irish, with Davenport dropping the opening kickoff and then with Ordway receiving a yellow card, Notre Dame was playing with a 2 player advantage. It took a while but eventually Emma Shimek crossed the line and narrowed the gap to 27 points.  Sloppy mistakes from the Irish inside their own half caused the lead to blow out to 34 points again. Off the ensuing kickoff Moreland got the ball from just outside her own 22 then proceeded to break tackles and throwing big don’t argues at any tacklers that got near her. After 50 minutes, Davenport 58, Notre Dame 17. Then, again, moments after the kick of Davenport struck again from a brilliant run from their scrum half Olivia Ortiz, blowing the score out to 63-17. 

As Davenport returned to full strength the Irish were still probing spending more and more time inside the opposition half, but the Davenport defense held strong and firm. Off a turnover Danielle Ordway marked her return from the sin bin with a brilliant hurtle down the middle of the field to go in for her fourth try of the contest. Ordway wasn’t done just yet with another blistering run through the defense for her 5th try. 

In the final 10 minutes of the game saw both teams going back and forth swapping tries, including Ordway’s 6th, but anything that Notre Dame could produce was too late, as the damage was done. Davenport in their first year at the D1 level were crowned Fall Champions. 

Men’s D1AA Final: 

Saint Joseph’s Vs. Mary Washington:

Early jitters from St Joseph’s lead to a knock on off the opening kickoff giving Mary Washington a scrum deep in attacking territory. Great defense though turned the ball over St Joe’s and got them out of a potentially disastrous start to the game. A slew of penalties against St Joe’s put them right back on the back foot, and under pressure. After 8 minutes St Joe’s had not seen the opposition’s side of the field. Their first foray into Mary Washington’s territory proved to be fruitful and against the run of play St. Joe’s after 10 minutes found themselves up 3-0.

It didn’t take long for Mary Washington to get back into the St Joe’s half, as another mistake while receiving the kickoff pinned St. Joe’s back. Simple hands, strong forward running and a blinder of an offload lead to Mary Washington claiming the first try of the game. 

Mary Washington’s defense was paramount to their success the backline leading the way with choke tackles leading to key turnover balls. However, poor execution in the kicking game, and handling errors let opportunities go to waste.  As they were putting opportunities to waste Saint Joe’s were putting Mary Washington to the test. After camping out for 5 minutes in Mary Washington’s 22 Saint Joseph’s, and through brilliant phase play, spreading the ball from side line to side line, St Joe’s were able to cross the line. Regaining their lead, 10-5, after 30 minutes.  

Discipline continued to be an issue for Mary Washington and as the penalty count continued to grow as it drew closer and closer to the half. Mary Washington’s defense continued to be spectacular and made it nigh impossible for Saint Joe’s to crack the line. Saint Joe’s realizing that possession did not equal tries against this team dropped back and slotted a drop goal to increase their lead to 8 points heading into the half. 

The beginning of the second half saw most of the game being played in the middle of the field, with neither team being able to establish possession or position, it was up to Mary Washington’s captain Matthew Gordon to lead the way through big strong running and choke tackles turning the ball over he was able to set his team up with field positon, culminating with a try to bring the game back within one point. That proved to be the spark plug needed to wake Mary Washington up, shortly after the try they were able to slot a penalty kick to go up by two. 

They immediately continued to apply the pressure with a brilliant kick sitting up inches in front of the goal line causing the scrambling St Joe’s defense to ground in goal leading it to 5m scrum. A knock on at the base of the scrum eased the pressure momentarily before a poor kick chase and an untimely penalty pinned them again in their own 22. Mary Washington didn’t take enough care of the ball and they left opportunities begging.

It was then Saint Joe’s turn to apply some pressure, but sloppy ball between the halves meant that they were unable to sustain the pressure. The handling errors proved to do more damage than just wasted opportunities, when a scrum from a knock on gave Mary Washington one of their first chances to spread it wide and they exploited it, running in a try to create a 9-point margin with just under 20 minutes left in the game. 

Saint Joe’s continued to create opportunities for themselves, but as had been the case all day, the Mary Washington red zone defense was impossible to crack. With time winding down the pressure applied could be seen in the decision making from Saint Joe’s. One ill-advised kick lead to a brilliant piec
e of counter attack from Mary Washington, and with 8 minutes left in the game St Joe’s found themselves down 16 points.
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 In the final minutes of the game Mary Washington added another 8 points to their margin of victory. Mary Washington winning it 37-13.

Women’s D2 Final:

Vassar Vs. Winona

Vassar coming in after a strong showing yesterday started today the same way they left off. Winona, as has been the story for most teams this weekend, dropped the kick off and it cost them dearly. Vassar producing a brilliant strip tackle in Winona State’s own 22 lead to a try just 5 minutes into the game. 

Winona State weren’t happy with how the opened the game up, having little to no possession, and when they had the ball breaks and opportunities were laid to waste as poor discipline and handling plagued the team. Vassar happy to continue their forward orientated game executed their game plan perfectly but in a similar vein to Winona State dropped ball killed opportunities.

Once Winona State held on to the ball it didn’t take long for them to get their feet under them. Tap penalties and big running from their forward pack helped to lay the platform of phase play leading to a well worked team try to take the lead 20 minutes in 7-5. 

Winona State’s issues off the kick off were evident again as the Blackcats were pinned in their own 22 after a display of poor passing and catching. Vassar capitalized and snatched their lead back. 

Winona marched themselves down the field again on the back of dominant forward play and a slew of bad penalties. However, while on the goal line a knock on meant they left empty handed. Vassar then in response continued to march up the field until play was halted momentarily while Emily Becker from Winona State was sent for a ten-minute spell on the sideline after committing a high tackle. Vassar wasted no time and increased their lead on the back of a Michelle Urrutia try. Vassar continued to take advantage of their severe possession and player advantage to drive forward through their pack to score another 7 pointer on the stroke of half time to lead 22-7.  

The second half picked up where the first left off, with Vassar marching down the field through pick and go’s. Even when the yellow card came back on for Winona poor set piece play let Vassar continue to dominate possession and territory. Vassar’s early domination in the half resulted in another try. With 47 minutes gone Vassar held a commanding 29-7 lead. 

Winona State knowing that it was now or never, took advantage of a penalty and ran in a quick try set up by big powerful running from Lindsey Rutz to close the gap down to 15 points. The try proved to light a fire under the team as they played like they had found some purpose. Despite the new-found determination they were still plagued by penalties and poor passing and catching to let Vassar to continue to control the clock. 

Winona State took advantage of an uncharacteristic mistake from Vassar and a player down in back play to run in a try against the run of play to close the gap to only 8 points. A game that at one stage seemed like it could have been all but over was now, still well and truly alive. Winona State didn’t wait long to get back on the scoreboard, with Emily Becker burning through the middle of the field to score a try and bring the margin back down to one with 20 minutes left. 

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Winona State for the third time in five minutes scored a try and showed what they could do when they were disciplined and didn’t give away the ball via unforced errors. Through another Emily Becker try Winona, for the first time since the first half were now in the lead. The jubilation was short lived though, as they kicked away possession and Vassar through a slew of penalties were able to cross over the white line. Vassar with a bit of help from the right upright on the conversion took a one point lead with 11 minutes left. 

In a change of fortune for Winona State, Vassar, made a meal of the kick off leading to a penalty right in front of the sticks from 27 meters out. The kick was good and Winona once again held the lead. For the last 10 minutes, it was a frantic finish. Vassar trying desperately to recapture the lead they had possessed for so much of the game. Winona did their best to help them too, with poor set pieces throwing possession away, and then committing penalties. However, incredible defense and a determination kept Vassar out, and Winona by the skin of their teeth held on to win an incredible game 38-36. 

Men’s D2 Final:

VMI Vs. UW Whitewater:

VMI showed early signs of still being exhausted from the marathon they played yesterday, and It didn’t take long for the relatively fresh legs of Whitewater to take advantage with a try being scored in the first forty seconds. Whilst being caught napping early VMI woke up and started to bring a level of pace and physicality that they would need to threaten Whitewater. This physicality was eventually rewarded when they were able to draw level from a beautiful rolling maul from 5 meters out. 

Whitewater was right back in it when they won the ball off of the kickoff, as Zack Pryes climbed a ladder and stole the ball in the air to get Whitewater back on the front foot. Not long thereafter in a clinical display of pick and go rugby Whitewater inched in-front once again, up 10-5 with fifteen minutes gone. Moments later they fell one meter short of doubling their lead, as a knock on one meter in front of the line and a great clearance from VMI eased the pressure. VMI then was able to use some fancy footwork and speed out wide to come back down the field and even the game up with 16 minutes left in the first half. 

The stalemate was again short lived as Whitewater showed their super human ability to come respond almost instantly to any points put up against them, and with 13 minutes left Whitewater was up 17-10. Whitewater must have thought they were looking in the mirror as VMI came out and responded with a brilliant passage of play using the kicking game to perfection as well as the forwards providing a solid platform for the ball to be served out It resulted with a try to Paul Conteh. Faced with a difficult conversion from the sideline Thomas Mitchell slotted it to bring the game back to a stalemate 6 minutes out from the half. 

Uncharacteristic knock-ons and penalties allowed VMI to get the ball down back into UWW’s 22. A professional foul was committed and UWW was down a player and down 3 points. VMI then took an exceptional catch from the kick off and it was a series of nice passes and fancy footwork that lead to a break away try to take a 10-point lead going into the half.
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The second half began at a helter skelter pace. Despite being a man down, Whitewater were leading the way with quick ball through the hand and refusing to put boot to ball mean saw plenty of exciting play. The excitement had to be subdued constantly as the ball seemed to be as slippery as bar of soap, and no points being added. After the teams traded field position, it was UW Whitewater that was eventually able to draw the penalties and retain the ball working their way into the VMI 22. Whitewater was able to suck the defenders into the areas around the ruck and then clinically sent it out wide to cut the lead to 3. 

A miss kicked for touch from VMI caused a chance for 7 points to turn into a Whitewater scrum just off halfway. From the
re UWW was able to dominate a tired and worn down VMI team, but as they did yesterday they showed tremendous resilience, and the best Whitewater could muster was a missed penalty goal. As the game clock closed in on ten minutes left the tension was palpable.

With just under ten minutes left the weary legs of VMI continued to miss touch, and help UW Whitewater gain territory. Strong defense kept Whitewater out, but poor discipline let Whitewater slot a penalty to draw it to an even game for the first time since the 32nd minute. With 7 minutes left Water water made a run down a sideline and it looked as it could be all over for VMI, but a dropped ball kept VMI in it. Of the ensuing scrum Whitewater was called for a high tackle and VMI was able pin UWW in their own 22. A knock on popped that balloon and UWW spread the ball wide and came right back down to VMI territory.  Four minutes left in the game UWW had a scrum in front of the sticks and 25 meters out. VMI dug deep and won a tight-head scrum, alleviating the pressure once more, but with the ball unplayable the Whitewater won a scrum on halfway. The ball was spread wide to Alec Treuthardt and he put on the afterburners, and with that UW Whitewater were back to back Men’s D2 Collegiate National Champions. UWW Winning 34-27.

3rd Place:

Coast Guard Vs. Cincinnati:

In the first 3rd place game of the day it pinned two teams who, no doubt were disappointed in their results yesterday, against each other. It was a tight affair in the first half with the points coming via a try to Hollis Roush of Coast Guard in the 38th minute. It didn’t take long for Cincinnati to respond as they scored on the stroke of half time thanks to a try to Justine Pearl. When she converted her own try Cincinnati owned the lead going into the half.  The second half was the polar opposite to the first, as Coast Guard ran in 32 unanswered points to secure a resounding win and secure a 3rd place finish for them. Coast Guard 37, Cincinnati 7.

North Dakota State Vs. Norwich

After the women did battle, it was time for the men to settle who would takeaway the bronze for the fall. Norwich scored the first points of the game in the 13th minute. It didn’t take long for North Dakota to Score and take the lead when they ran two tries in, during the following 10 minute period. The scoreboard didn’t tick over again during the first half. North Dakota leading 12-5. 

In the first minute of the second half Norwich drew level, and then inched ahead two minutes later through a penalty. In the space of three minutes Norwich had scored 10 points. North Dakota answered by scoring a try, and retaking their lead now 17-15. The next 20 minutes were dominated by Norwich scoring 18 unanswered points and putting the game out of reach. Both teams added tries in the final minutes but the damage had been done. Norwich winning 40-24.