STANFORD, Calif. – The Matadors of Cal State University, Northridge, booked a ticket to the Women’s Division II College Final with a narrow, 15-10 defeat of Indiana University of Pennsylvania Saturday at Steuber Rugby Stadium. The Matadors will face Mary Washington University in the Final Sunday.
Indiana kept the Matadors from breaking into its half for the first 20 minutes of the Semifinal and used the territorial advantage to take the match’s first lead in the 30th minute. Flyhalf Caitlyn Lyons had been working the Tooters’ attack all half and found Morgan McLaughlin with a quick pass 15 meters from the Matadors’ try line. The fullback then passed to Latrisha Morales, who cut inside with speed to give her side the 5-0 lead.
Northridge responded just before the first-half whistle was blown through Kristina Koufos after a good one-two passing play with Kathryn Kargari on the wing. The teams remained tied, 5-5, at the half.
The Matadors carried the momentum into the second half and took the lead with a try from Yesenia Camacho. Against the run of play, Northridge quickly gained midfield and Koufos again proved instrumental in the Matadors’ attack, setting up Camacho with a pass. The work was not done, however, as Camacho had to reach the try zone and even found space to dot down closer to the uprights for a better-angled conversion. The conversion went wide, however, for a 10-5 scoreline.
Sonya Livingston got in on the scoring action in the 55th minute, though Indiana had kept possession well until that point. Sarah McGee faked a pass at the 10 and barreled into the Tooters’ half to set up the Matadors in attacking position. Livingston finished the attack for the try and extended the lead to 15-5.
Camacho could have set up two more tries, but her explosive speed left her without support in the attacking half of the pitch. The Tooters pressured Northridge in the closing stages of the match in hopes of reaching the Final and closed the gap in the 79th minute. Prop Rebecca Kaphart leveled a defender a few meters from the try line and Shelby Runyan grabbed the ball for the try. Another missed conversion kept Northridge in control with a one-try lead, and the Tooters ran out of time before they could find an equalizer.
Mary Washington University advanced to the Women’s Division II Final with an exciting 24-17 win against undefeated Florida International University Saturday.
Mary Washington’s trip to Stanford was unorthodox as the team lost to Appalachian State in the Women’s Division II Quarterfinal, but a declined invitation to the National Championship meant an open spot for Mary Washington.
Led by Elyssa McClain, Mary Washington did not let the opportunity to win a national championship go to waste. Florida International’s backs showed their speed in the second minute to carve an opening in the Mary Washington defense, but the underdog held its own.
Mary Washington advanced into the Florida International half in the sixth minute but lost the ball, giving the Panthers a chance to clear. Gracie Martinez whiffed on the kick in the try zone, however, and Enisa Turko fell on the ball for the try. Sophia Therriault kicked the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
On their heels, the Panthers allowed another try from the restart when McClain again found space on the wing. Samantha Hogue and Maddy Ernesto combined well to find McClain, whose acceleration was too much for the Florida International backs to handle. Turko converted the try to extend Mary Washington’s lead to 14-0.
Florida International’s Rayehanna Salkey broke into the Mary Washington half in the 20th minute with her speed and kept her defenders at bay with her strength to get her team on the board. Kimberly Semiglia converted the try to cut the deficit to 14-7.
Brittany Wilcox dotted down in the try zone in the 28th minute but the referee called the play back for a forward pass. In the 35th minute, another botched clearance kick turned possession over to Mary Washington, who scored with the possession three minutes later. Shar’Quayla Baker did her best to knock down McClain, but the winger bounced into the try zone to give her team a 19-7 halftime lead.
Semiglia and McClain traded tries in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, but Florida International struggled to cope with Mary Washington’s tight defense despite the Panthers’ speed. Florida International closed the gap to 24-17 in the 71st minute with a try from Wilcox, but Ernesto put the match away with a try before the whistle to bring the final score to 29-17.
Cal State, Northridge, and Mary Washington will begin championship play at Stanford University Sunday at 1:30 P.M. PT. Watch the Women’s Division II College National Championship live on USA Rugby TV.