D1AA Fall Final: How Did We Get Here?

How did the upset happen; how did Bowling Green unseat a seemingly unbeatable Mary Washington?

A few factors. First of all, Mary Washington isn't infallible. The Mothers did indeed win the Chesapeake Conference with an average score of 56-10, going 7-0. And, true, they almost beat a really good Navy team, losing 15-14. 

Watch The D1AA Final LIVE on FloRugby Dec 2

Not Used To Trouble

But conventional wisdom says that if you don't run into many difficulties, it's more challenging when the games get tougher.

Rugby is full of teams that won championships after a few nailbiters, beating teams that won in a series of blowouts along the way.

That's not to say UMW was complacent - more that sometimes teams, especially young teams, can take some time to react when an opponent fights back. Sometimes that time can be precious.

Album of photos from the D1AA semifinals. St. Joseph's vs Western Michigan in the mud (David Hughes photos). Bowling Green in orange vs Mary Washington on green grass (Roger Mazzarella photos).

Depth

Injuries were also a factor. Several players - Michael Sacks, Jordan Sacks, Joseph Callery, Matthew Gordon, and Bradlee Nicholls - all key starters in last year's playoffs we out injured or left the game early due to injury. That's the issue in two-game weekends; no matter how good a team is 1 through 15, you need depth. 

UMW's bench performed admirably, but Bowling Green's squad was a little more savvy, a little more experienced.

Motivation

Bowling Green lost a conference game to Western Michigan, and that result, as much as anything, had kept the Falcons out of FloRugby's D1AA Top 10. But the Bowling Green players knew they were better than that, and just wanted an opportunity to prove it. They beat Kentucky, and had no qualms about proving it again against Mary Washington.

And It Almost Went The Other Way

Mary Washington opened up a 14-0 lead before Bowling Green got going. Peter Weis scored on an interception, and then hooker Phil Bryant, a stalwart for the program, scored a try. UMW had added a penalty so, with Chris Labadie's conversion, it was 17-12 UMW. But then Falcon fullback Tim May scored (Labadie converted) and it was 19-17 Bowling Green.

Mary Washington replied, and took a 22-19 lead into the break.

Right off the second-half kickoff Bryant and flanker Ryan Steinmetz combined to get Bowling Green near paydirt, and flanker Dan Waltrmeyer finished it off. Mary Washington responded to retake the lead at 27-26. But once again Bowling Green scored off the restart.

This time, flyhalf Adam Kubicki went in under the posts. Labadie's conversion was good. Mary Washington replied, and here came a key moment. The Mothers conversion attempt by fullback Aidan Gallagher struck the crossbar, bounced upward, and then fell on the near side - a miss. Bowling Green now led 33-32.

Mary Washington went back on the attack, but this time Bowling Green center Zach Miller intercepted a pass and was in untouched. Labadie converted for a 40-32 lead. So that conversion hitting the crossbar was a key moment. Mary Washington knew they had to score twice to win. They scored once, but that was all - 40-39.

All of that sets up a fall final between Bowling Green and St. Joseph's, the teams that lost the last two fall D1AA finals, respectively. Expect something special



NAV, Scion Score Huge Wins At Blue Ball 7s

Nav and Scion each swept the competition at the Blue Ball 7s in Wilmington, DE to win the second of three MAC qualifiers. 

Barbarians Steal The Show At Heartland 7s

Round two of the Frontier qualifier series went the way of the Denver Barbarians, who put together a clinical performance in the final to take down Park City Haggis.

Q&A With AJ MacGinty: Eagles, MLR, Life, And More

De-AJ-a Vu: MacGinty Does It Twice

It's been a somewhat roundabout path for Eagles playmaker AJ MacGinty and his ascension into one of the northern hemisphere's best flyhalves. 

New Zealand Wins Super Series, France Makes A Statement

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

After two-and-a-half week tournament that had everything—upsets, blowouts, nailbiters, big hits, fine skills—it's the Black Ferns who ultimately come out on top after defeating England 28-13 in the Super Series finale; meanwhile, France closed out its campaign with a demolition of the Eagles, laying down a 53-14 win over the Americans. 

NOLA, ARPTC Rise To The Occasion At Hell Or High Water 7s

New Orleans and ARPTC took the honors at a key sevens qualifier in the Red River region over the weekend.

England Teams Get Great Britain Rugby Into Olympics

The men's and women's teams from Great Britain are the latest to confirm their places in the rugby competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after both England teams won the Rugby Europe regional qualifiers in France and Russia, respectively, Sunday.

France Ready To Face USA Sunday

null

France and the USA are set to face off Sunday in the final day of the 2019 Women's Super Series.

Q&A With USA Rugby's Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin Talks EY And USA Rugby

FloRugby caught up with USA Rugby Chief Commercial Officer Mark Griffin to talk about the new USA Rugby partnership with EY in the wake of the two organizations’ announcement about the deal.

England, New Zealand Name Lineups For Super Series Decide

Kendra Cocksedge Drives The Black Ferns Train

New Zealand and England have named their lineups for the Women's Super Series clincher Sunday in San Diego, CA.

USA Prepares For Super Series Finale

Stacey Bridges: Offload Master

USA Women's National Team head coach Rob Cain has named his lineup to take on World #4 France in the final weekend of the Women's Super Series.