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ACRA's Top DIIs in Action

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ACRA's Top DIIs in Action

Last year, Winona, Notre Dame College, Vassar and Kutztown (in that order) finished atop ACRA’s division II. Here’s a look at what the Final Four did this weekend:

#1 WINONA
The Black Katts hit the century mark against St. Cloud State, which travelled light and required a few Winona players to fill out its roster. Twelve different players scored 16 tries, with outside center Lachen Ester and flanker Tori Langhans banking a hat trick apiece. Flyhalf Katie Dries slotted eight conversions, and forward Rachel Thompson added another two. Thompson had a busy day, not only moving from prop to No. 8 for Winona, but swapping jerseys to play for St. Cloud.

“Rachel Thompson scored the only try while playing for St. Cloud, so we made sure to give her a hard time after the match,” Winona coach Josh Krzewinski said.

Winona is now 3-0 in the Northern Lights conference, and looking ahead to the rest of its schedule, it’s likely to see more blowouts like Saturday’s.

“The hardest part about these types of games is getting the players to continue to focus on their personal skills and the pattern of play that we practice endlessly,” Krzewinski said. “Everyone wants to get their hands on the ball and score, which often leads to mistakes, which could be costly down the road in bigger games. That will be one of the items we will address as practice resumes this week.  Another focus for the team is to continue to push themselves, even after lopsided wins. We have to keep reminding ourselves that come playoff time, we will be tested and we need to be ready.  Right now it’s all about discipline, mental focus, and working on the small things that will make each girl better.”

In other conference news, Gustavus tied UM Duluth 17-17; Mankato rebounded with a 52-5 win over Bemidji; and North Dakota State better rival North Dakota 43-5.

Winona 100
Tries: Lindsey Bucki, Lachen Ester 3, Kalene Hill, Rachel Hunter, Kourtney Kavajecz, Brittany Knight, Tori Langhans 3, Nadia Nassif, Georgia Porter, Madison Skalecki, Megan Wolff, Kathryn Zahn
Cons: Katie Dries 8, Rachel Hunter 2

St. Cloud State 5
Tries: Rachel Hunter

#2 NOTRE DAME COLLEGE
The Falcons ran out its B side against Ohio Valley conference mate Dayton, and still brought home a 116-0 victory. After four games (2 league, 2 friendlies), Notre Dame has outscored opponents 427-0. That includes a shutout victory against USA Rugby DII champion Mary Washington.

This weekend, the games will contrast greatly. The B side will take on Wright State in a conference match, while the A side will play USA Rugby DI champion Penn State. One has to give the Falcons credit; they’re going for it.

According to coach Mark Andrade, expect to see Fallbrook graduate and WPL player Karmin Macedo, who is free from injury, on the pitch this week, as well as SoCal’s Marcaya Bailous, a fast, powerful runner.

Also enjoying big wins last weekend were Ohio Valley's Denison (76-10 win v Wright State), Eastern Kentucky (44-17 win v Miami [OH]), and Cincinnati (70-7 win v Kentucky).

#3 VASSAR
The Tri-State champion stretched its legs Sunday, scoring 15 tries in its 91-5 victory over the winless SUNY New Paltz. Three players – Meg Slattery, Cierra Thomas, Darienne Jones – scored hat tricks, while Mary Margaret McElduff contributed six of eight conversions.

“Last weekend Vassar had played SUNY Cortland [in a friendly] and underperformed, so New Paltz bore the brunt of a backlash,” Vassar coach Tony Brown wrote. “Some simple truths were spoken during the week, and a focus on fundamentals meant that a much better platform was established. While it is difficult to tell if Vassar was truly much better, it is safe to state that the team was very effective. The scum was steady, the few lineouts were won, and the body position in rucks lower.”

New Paltz spent the game on defense, and Brown estimated that the host’s tackle count topped 100. There was no relief on offense either. Vassar defended eagerly, as demonstrated by Thomas’ intercept try, which effectively ended New Paltz’s first significant offensive stand.

“The Vassar forwards dominated the game, but when given the opportunity the backs did well with flyhalf Mary Margaret McElduff continuing to impress,” Brown continued. “She converted six of the tries and went through for a well taken one herself. But it is her distribution that is key and she did well.”

The only close game that evolved in the Tri-State conference occurred between Hofstra and Fairfield, with the former winning 38-21. Marist beat Albany (Vassar’s next opponent) 71-5; Rutgers is still undefeated after its 86-5 win over Stony Brook; Sacred Heart bettered Fordham 55-12; and Molly topped Drew 85-0.

Vassar 91
Tries: Meg Slattery 3, Cierra Thomas 3, Darienne Jones 3, Taylor Nunley, Laila Blumenthal-Rothchild, Mary Margaret McElduff, Tamasha Persaud, Kathleen Gould, Lauren Workman
Cons: McElduff 6, Ellen Quist 2

#4 KUTZTOWN
Kutztown lined up against the also-undefeated St. Joseph’s University on Saturday and took firm control of the Mid-Atlantic conference’s Tri-State Division with a 63-8 victory.

Kutztown took a 32-0 lead when flanker Jessica Tolton, No. 8 Faith Hughes, outside center Tabetha Super (2) and scrumhalf Sharyn Boedecker scored tries. Inside center Payton McCord tacked on two conversions and a penalty for the commanding lead.

Five more tries came in the second stanza, with Hughes getting her second, Amber DeFabio, McCord, and reserve forwards Aysia Grondahl and Amanda Kingsdorf dotting down. Wing Heather Luster added a penalty.

“St. Joe's came in putting up some big scorelines in their previous matches, and we knew they would be really athletic,” Kutztown coach Sean Cobb said. “We worked all week on closing our defensive gaps, and the girls did just that. It's always nice to see the ideas and strategies worked on during practice making their way to game day. The girls had a great day and should be very proud of their performance. The win puts us a top or division and one step closer to a playoff berth.”

Around the conference, MARC champion Shippensburg beat Lock Haven 43-8, and East Stroudsburg shut out Scranton in the Pennsylvania Division. College of N.J. held onto a 17-15 win over Drexel, and Bloomsburg delivered Millersville its first Tri-State loss, 38-5.