You are here
For the second year in a row, the Davenport Panthers came out on top of the Winona State Black Katts for the DII women’s rugby fall championship, shutting out their opponent 37-0.
“It’s a goal that at the beginning of the season I’m sure everyone strives for,” Davenport head coach Greg Teliczan said. “To do it for two years in a row is pretty extraordinary. It’s extremely difficult to repeat.”
The weather knew no limits in Greenville, S.C., when rain poured down the pitch on Sunday following a beautiful, dry day before. Going into the final, the Panthers were recovering from a fierce match against Vassar College, while Winona State had dominated the Coast Guard Academy. With Saturday’s slaughter and remaining baggage from last season, the Black Katts no doubt took the semifinal victory as a positive sign for the rematch.
Leading off the match, Winona captain Lanoira Duhart returned the opening kickoff for a deep run into Davenport’s half of the pitch. Her efforts, however impressive, resulted in a lineout that moved the ball to Davenport’s first-year flanker and high school All-American, Hannah Garcia, who cut through the Black Katt defenders for a long-range try. Hannah Tennant responded with her first conversion of the final, raising the score to 7-0.
Near the 15-minute mark, a poor pass was picked up in the back field and moved to Davenport wing Madison Sparks. Although Duhart put in a try-saving tackle, she knocked-on in the attempted pickup, leading to Davenport’s greatest strength: the scrum.
Teliczan praised, “Our scrums just completely dominated on Sunday, and it was a game changer for us.”
From the scrum, Hunter Moreland picked off the back, allowing Olivia Ortiz to continue the drive across the try line. Tennant added the two-pointer, 14-0.
Winona responded with its first entrance into Davenport’s end minutes later, as flyhalf Cassie Schultz sidestepped defenders into the 22, but messy communication prevented the Black Katts from capitalizing on the advantage.
Whether due to weather or frustration, penalties ran rampant across the pitch. Just before the 30-minute mark, Ortiz got her second yellow card of the weekend for repeated infractions. Instead of gaining possession with the man advantage, however, Winona got messy themselves, giving Davenport two penalty kick opportunities to end the half, 20-0 in favor of Davenport.
Winona proved unable to make a comeback in the second half. Davenport’s impressive front-line, especially flanker and match MVP Brenna Donahue, continued to get go-forward against a helpless defense. Sparks scored her second try of the day, and Tennant converted yet again to bring the score up to 27-0. During the final 10 minutes, Davenport outside center Danielle Ordway took over penalty-kicking duties, added three points to the scoreboard, and minutes later Garcia scored her second breakaway try for the final points of the day.
With a final score of 37-0, Davenport secured its title once more.
Considering the large number of contributing first-year players on the team, Teliczan is extremely optimistic about the future of the Davenport women’s rugby program, and about the future of rugby in its region as a whole. Securing a second consecutive title with a new crop of players is a huge boost to the program.
“It shows that everything the school is supporting us with is all going towards a positive direction,” he said. “It’s opening eyes around the area, in Michigan and the Midwest, and keeps building rugby programs.”
With the 15s season now over for all fall-based teams, Davenport and Winona State will focus their efforts on strengthening and preparing their 7s squads for spring competition.