History! UC Davis, NDC Get Nationals Double

History! UC Davis, NDC Get Nationals Double

UC Davis and Notre Dame College women win their national rugby semis. Now those colleges have finalists for men and women.

May 5, 2017 by Alex Goff
History! UC Davis, NDC Get Nationals Double
Notre Dame College and UC Davis made history on Friday after both schools saw their women's teams join their male counterparts in advancing to the DI College Championship final in Marietta, GA. Saturday's title games will mark the first time that the finalists in two major college championships will all be from the same two colleges.

In women's semifinals, NDC knocked off Stanford 29-17 in overtime to reach title game, and UC Davis booked its spot with a 36-24 win over Central Florida. Meanwhile, the men's DIAA championship features Notre Dame College taking on two-time defending champion UC Davis in a rematch of last year's final.

"I know the guys have been working really hard to get back here, and they've been an inspiration for us to do the same," NDC women's team scrumhalf and Sorensen Award finalist Danielle Siua said.

UC Davis men's head coach Kal Incendy said, "The women's team is pretty amazing. We're backing them."

The Notre Dame College women's squad needed overtime to overcome a snappy and speedy Stanford team. The two were tied 17-17 at full time, but NDC had the run of play in extra time, using the powerful running of props Ilona Zaishliuk and Leslie Velez to punish Stanford defense.

Stanford scored first through lock Haley O'Brien, and the Cardinal held their 5-0 lead until the second half. After speedy Falcons fullback Alex Strasser torched Stanford for two tries, the Cardinal replied with center Madeline Wilson's try and Olivia Bernadel Huey's conversion -- putting Stanford ahead 12-10.

Siua scored to nudge the Falcons in front 17-12 (with Emilia Ferrara's conversion), only to see flanker Kaelyn Macedo tie it up with two minutes to go.

In overtime, the teams battled through the first 10 minutes until NDC found daylight with flanker Marcaya Bailous scoring and Ferrara converting. The Falcons sealed the win when a Zaishliuk break set up a Velez try.

UC Davis may not have needed overtime, but the Aggies did require a late-game comeback. Paced by their superb center combination of Erica Hipp and Sydnee Watanabe -- another Sorensen finalist -- UC Davis clawed out of a 24-12 hole. Central Florida center Cortney Kuehl scored two early tries and did well to defend and steal ball from the Aggies. But UC Davis came back with a sterling forward effort to take a slim 29-24 lead and capped it off with a Prai Harris try.

So it's UC Davis versus Notre Dame College for two championships. While this has never happened before, there have been years when the men's program and women's program from one school both made a national final.

In 1993 Air Force did it, and Penn State did it in 1996, 1997, and 2001. Northern Iowa made two national DII finals in 2002, and BYU was in the Women's DI Elite and Men's Varsity Cup final last year.

We've even had teams win for men and women in the same year. Last year, in fact, the UC Davis women won the DI final 30-25 on a last-second try by Hipp, and the UC Davis men beat Notre Dame College. In 2003, Air Force won both the men's and women's DI championship.

But we've never had two major finals in which all of the teams were from the same two colleges -- until now.