Women's DII Collegiate Semifinal Preview

Vassar v WSU 2018 Women D2 Fall Final © Jim Dedmon 1.jpg

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Four teams remain standing in Women's DII rugby this fall, and by Sunday afternoon there will be just one. 

Watch The USA Rugby Fall College Champs Live

Vassar College, Colorado School of Mines, Winona State University, and the Coast Guard Academy all have their sites set on the title, and all four are capable of claiming it. 


Vassar will be aiming to keep the trophy in Poughkeepsie, NY for another year, after big victories in last year's semifinals and final against Coast Guard and Winona State saw them win the championship. 

New to the party this year is the School of Mines, who have progressed further than they've ever gone this season. 

Here's a quick look at each team heading into championship weekend. 

Vassar College

How they got here

The defending champs have seemingly raised the bar in 2019, running undefeated through their schedule to this point with a 13-0 record. 

While they have dished out a number of blowouts along the way, they've also proven they can win the tight ones as well. Close wins against Marist and powerhouse Princeton demonstrated their resolve through adversity. 

In the Sweet 16 and the quarterfinals, Vassar smoked their competition, taking down Colby 51-14 and then Bryant 33-7. 

If last year's team was very forward-focused, this year's outfit is much more balanced. They like to spread the ball wide and use the whole width of the pitch. 

Key to victory

The key for Vassar is simple: tackle well. If they can shore up their defense and limit the go-forward ball of their opponents, they're going to be extremely difficult to beat. 

Players to watch

The Brewers have a number of strong players across the roster, so it's impossible to say they lean on any select few players to find success. 

But if there any girls that've consistently popped up on the post-match reports, it's freshman loose forward Emily Howell, sophomore No. 8 Halle Hutchinson, and sophomore center Emma Manzella.

Opponent

Colorado School of Mines. They will play at 10:00 am (ET) on Saturday

Colorado School of Mines

How they got here

The School of Mines ran through the Rocky Mountain DII conference undefeated this season en route to the playoffs. 

They've come a long way over the past four years, and it's been through the dedication of the players and the coaching staff that they've built themselves into a winning side. 


If there's one thing they hang their hat on, it's defense. Mines spend the majority of their practice time, whether it's an indoor or an outdoor session, working on their line speed and connectedness. 

When they aren't doing defensive structure work, they hone their tackling technique and their work in the contact zone. 

The fruits of their labor were reaped in the Sweet 16 and quarterfinals, when they held IUP to just 12 points, before shutting out 2018 semifinalist Cincinnati. 

Key to victory

To take down the defending champs, Mines will need to limit their error count and turn in yet another huge defensive effort. They are a tight-knit group of players that love their program and they will be sure to leave it all on the field. 

Players to watch

Look for No. 8 Mary Oglesby to make a big impact. She has scored a whopping 12 tries in six fixtures this season and will be a key ingredient to their success. 

In defense and at the breakdown, powerhouse flanker Caelyn Rittenhouse is going to be an extremely important player. She'll be up against it versus Vassar, but she has it in her to be up to the task. 

Opponent

Vassar College. They will play at 10:00 am (ET) on Saturday

Coast Guard Academy

How they got here

Coast Guard were awfully close a year ago, falling 43-26 to Vassar in the semifinals. This year they're determined to go a step further and reach the final, with the goal in mind of winning it. 


They have only dropped one game in 2019, a 40-31 shootout to Vermont early on in the year. Since then, they've reeled off four consecutive wins and find themselves back in the semis once again. 

They got through a tough region to advance past the Sweet 16 and the quarterfinal, first putting a whooping on Temple 53-7, before grinding out a hard-fought win over Hartford 24-12. 

Averaging more than 49 points a game, Coast Guard are a team that knows how to score. They are fit and like to run teams tired, so to beat them you've got to bring it for 80 minutes. 


Key to victory

Limiting errors is always a key to victory, but especially so when you get this deep in the tournament. For the Coast Guard to get their high-octane offense going, they need to hang on to the ball and maintain good continuity. 

Players to watch

Fullback Hollis Roush has put up numbers this season that are simply hard to believe. Her scoring count on the year would have to be approaching all-time record levels. 


In seven games, Roush has scored a mind-blowing 206 points. That's more than 29 per game! In one game alone, she had 56 points all by herself, scoring six tries and adding 13 conversions. 

With 24 tries on the year, Roush will have to be heavily marked by the opposition. 

Opponent

Winona State. They will play at 12:00 pm (ET) on Saturday.

Winona State University

How they got here

Fueled by the disappointment of last year's championship loss to Vassar, the Wazoos are chomping at the bit to get another crack at the title. 


They feel like they underperformed in last year's final, and have been determined all season to make amends. So far so good, as they've gone undefeated en route to the semifinals. 

They even took down a DI playoff side in the University of Minnesota earlier in the year, grinding out a 22-10 victory over their in-state opponents. 

More importantly, the Wazoos seem to be peaking at the right time. In their Sweet 16 matchup they shutout a very tough Mankato side, 43-0, beating them for the third time this season. 


Then, in the quarterfinal, they turned in their best performance of the season, taking Grand Valley State to the woodshed, 74-12. They're a team on fire, and will be hungry to taste championship success in 2019. 

Key to victory

As a team that likes to spread the ball across the pitch, ballhandling will be of utmost importance to Winona. They pride themselves on being skilled from #1 through #23, and when they're all clicking they are extremely tough to stop. 


Players to watch

Center Emily Becker has been a point-scoring machine for the Wazoos, notching plenty of tries and conversions for her side. 

Scrumhalf Caitlyn Deetz is a crucial point to the Wazoo attack, as she keeps their flow going and provides a good link between a forward pack and a backline that love to toss the ball around. 

Opponent

Coast Guard. They will play at 12:00 pm (ET) on Saturday. 

Autumn Nations Cup Stock Report

null

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Northern hemisphere teams decided to play another Six Nations tournament in 2020, and added Georgia, perhaps on a trial basis. But no! 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Top 15 Players Of Autumn Nations Cup

England

The Autumn Nations Cup wasn’t just a measuring stick for international teams, but also a proving ground for players looking to either break into the national team or reestablish their place in it. For the four British Isles, it was also an audition for Warren Gatland’s 2021 British & Irish Lions team which heads to South Africa next summer. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Top 5 Games From Autumn Nations Cup

null

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Now that it's over, it's all about the numbers.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Autumn Nations Cup Notebook: Fijian Flair Shows Up & Champions Crowned

England

If the first three rounds of the 2020 Autumn Nations Cup were labeled as slow, or too kick-heavy, the final weekend was anything but. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

England Prevails As Autumn Nations Cup Champs

Championship Replay: England vs France

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

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

It was supposed to be a cakewalk. It was supposed to be business as usual for Eddie Jones’ team in front of 2,000 spectators at Twickenham. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

How to Watch Autumn Nations Cup: Wales vs Italy

Wales vs Italy

Italy and Wales will face off for fifth place as they look to finish off their Autumn Nations Cup run with a win. 

How to Watch Autumn Nations Cup: Ireland vs Scotland

null

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Both teams had some decent showings in pool play. Ireland's lone loss came to championship contender England in the second round in a hard fought contest. They will look to finish out the Autumn Nations Cup on a good note with a win over Scotland.

How to Watch England vs France In Autumn Nations Cup Championship

null

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

England and France will be looking to stay flawless at the Autumn Nations Cup as they meet with the title on the on line. 

Autumn Nations Cup Notebook: Stage Is Set For Massive Title Bout

Georgia

Round 3 was highlighted most by the efforts of the Georgians, who pushed Ireland for 80 minutes in Dublin. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

England Looking To Stay Perfect Against Wales

null

Create a free account to unlock this video!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

England has been rolling. 

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In