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In early morning action the USA Rugby Women’s DII national semi-finals took place with two entertaining games. In the first game, Cal State Northridge edged IUP while Mary Washington upset FIU in the second matchup.
In a scrappy first half, IUP jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a try in the corner.
IUP enjoyed a lot of the territory and possession but committed a handful of penalties. Cal State Northridge struggled on some of their set pieces and was not able to capitalize on IUP’s mistakes.
In the final sequence of the first half, Cal State Northridge picked from the base of a scrum and went down the left sideline. They went back the other with hands and almost every player seemingly touched the ball. After a number of offloads the ball found Katie Kargari on the wing. She beat two three defenders and smoothly found anoncoming Kristina Koufos for a try.
The kick was unconverted and the half ended with a 5-5 score.
The second half was a bruising encounter with Northridge playing tremendous team defense.
The early minutes saw IUP monopolize possession again but turnovers at the breakdown killed IUP all half. The scooters would make great gains but were continuously counter rucked out of possession. The matadors consistently kicked out of pressure restarting the cycle.
Roughly 10 minutes into the second frame, Northridge broke the tie. Against the run of play Kufous took the ball towards the goal line and offloaded from her back to fellow back Yesenia Camacho for a try.
IUP continued to maintain possession but stalwart defense from the Northridge backs kept IUP at bay. With the score 10-5 Sonya Livingston scored a well-deserved try for the Matadors making the game 15-5. Livingston was incredibly disruptive in her tackles from the wing position and equally explosive with the ball in hand.
All three members of the back three for Northridge had a tremendous game.
IUP kept fighting and struck back at the 78 minute mark. After a series of pick and go by the try line Shelby Runyan dotted down making the game 15-10.
With two minutes to play the Matadors made some questionable kicks after turning the scooters over. With no time left on the clock, the Matadors attempted to kick for touch but it was fielded by IUP. Morales streaked down the sideline but was caught inside the Northridge 22.
The breakdown, which was a problem for the Scooters all day, yielded another turnover and the Matadors were able to kick for touch and end the game.
The final score was 15-10 in favor of Cal State Northridge.
In the second semi-final, Mary Washington and FIU got off to a fast start. Both teams possess strong, athletic backs and it showed with some blitzing runs.
FIU used its speed to get down to the try line but committed a penalty on the goal line. Mary Washington countered by moving the ball down the sideline. FIU turned Mary Washington over on their own goal line but a failed kick resulted in a gift try for Mary Washington.
Mary Washington doubled their total off the kickoff when Elyssa McClain streaked down the wing and beat the FIU fullback for a try under the posts. At nine minutes the score was 14-0.
FIU responded with a try at the 21 minute mark when winger Rayehanna Salkey. beat five defenders for a try next to the posts.
FIU had several missed opportunities down on the Mary Washington goal line but a knock on and a forward pass kept FIU from a score. FIU continued making mistakes on their own goal when a failed kick resulted in a five-meter scrum. Another knock on by FIU led to a try in the corner by winger Kate Hansen.
Mary Washington led 19-7 and carried that lead into the break.
FIU struck first in the second half thanks to captain and flyhalf Kim Semiglia. Taking a quick tap from a penalty, she beat four players for a score. Missing the conversion, FIU cut the Mary Washington lead to 7.
Soon after scoring a high tackle by FIU resulted in a yellow card and a man advantage for Mary Washington. Mary Washington capitalized immediately via the speed of Elyssa McClain. With her second try of the game, Mary Washington pushed the game to 24-12.
After heavy pressure on the Mary Washington defense, FIU finally broke through with a try from Brittany Wilcox. The conversion failed but it was a one score game with eight minutes to play.
Mary Washington sealed the victory with a try in the 78th minute. Despite losing in the round of eight, Mary Washington is one win away from its first ever-national title.
Penalties and handling errors plagued FIU all day. Mary Washington’s technical superiority propelled it to a 29-17 victory in this semifinal.
The championship game will take place at 130 PM Pacific time Sunday.