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Winona State fought through two extremely tough games to become the 2019 DII National Champions.
Following last year's disappointing loss in the championship game to Vassar College, the Warriors set out with redemption on their minds this season.
They worked hard on their craft to up their passing skills and become a much more dynamic team. The results of that effort were evident over the weekend, as they took down two excellent teams in Coast Guard and the Colorado School of Mines.
Their semifinal against Coast Guard was undoubtedly the game of the weekend. Taking on a team loaded with attacking threats, Winona State won an absolute barn burner, 42-36.
They went blow for blow against a Coast Guard team that could seemingly score from anywhere on the field.
In the final, the Warriors then showed their versatility, winning a grinder against an unbelievable defensive side in the Colorado School of Mines.
The Mines had just taken down defending national champions Vassar College in the semis, so Winona knew they were in for a very tough challenge.
Colorado School of Mines brought consistent pressure all game long, but the Warriors withstood it and stepped their own defensive game up as well, holding Mines to just two scores and claiming a 19-10 victory.
Props Makayla Leraas and Madelyn Rabideau, flanker Diana Tapia Alvarado, and especially center Emily Becker were all phenomenal over the weekend, but in the end it was a team effort that got the job done.
Kudos to Winona State for taking the sting of last year's disappointment and turning it into motivation to win the national title this year. Congratulations to them and their program.