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Been There, Getting There - Winona and CGA Women

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Been There, Getting There - Winona and CGA Women

The Coast Guard Academy’s run to the USA Rugby Women’s DII fall semis has been a difficult one.

Unlike some of the others in the final four, the Bears have had one or two very tight games to work through.

There was the 17-5 defeat of New Hampshire in October, the 25-20 win over New Haven earlier this month, and then the playoff games - following a shutout of Maine, it was a 48-22 win over last year’s fall semifinalists Bloomsburg, and the quarterfinal nailbiter over St. Michael’s. 

It was an odd nailbiter in that Coast Guard never trailed. The Bears got on the board with a try from Linda Drake early on, saw St. Mike’s tie it up thanks to scrumhalf Caroline Smith. But two tries leading into halftime - Drake’s second and Katherine McDonnell’s first, along with a crucial conversion from Hanna Delguercio, made it 17-5 at the break. 

St. Mike’s inched closer (prop Katie Fawthrop doing the honors), but lock Cherokee Strickland’s try made it 22-10. Flanker Eniola Mustapha’s try pushed St. Michael’s within a try, but that’s as far as they got as the CGA team held on for the final ten minutes.

The next big challenge now will be Winona State. The Minnesota-team has been there before, and as captain Ianoira Duhart told The Rugby Breakdown, they’ve learned from their mistakes and come back stronger. 

Twice national runners-up, Winona State pushed Davenport to the limit last year, and in fact almost won last fall’s final. 

Major players such as inspiration prop Duhart, Megan Wolff, and Iachen Esters, to name just three, have all had that losing-in-the-final experience. They aren’t intimidated, and they are hungry. Witness, their 42-5 thumping of a very good Montana State team.

Will this be one of those times, though, when the team more battle-tested (Coast Guard) prevails over the slightly more dominant team (Winona State’s Round of 16 game was forfeited)? Maybe, but don’t underestimate Winona State’s desire to go from 2nd to 1st.