Colorado Mesa Comeback Seals Women D2 7s Trophy
Colorado Mesa Comeback Seals Women D2 7s Trophy
Colorado Mesa won the CRAA Women’s D2 7s Sunday in the rain and mud in Dallas and needed all sorts of heroics to do it.
In an eight-team bracket that produced some high-level 7s, Mesa wasn’t the only team to impress. In fact, on Day One in the sun and heat they were upended 14-7 by a swift, intelligent San Jose State team.
Here’s how it all shook down:
SJSU were led by the diminutive but unflinching form of Meghana Narravula, who operated as finisher, playmaker, and emotional leader. With Aimee Ramos organizing well and Katherine Buckley hitting hard, SJSU was just better over the ball than Mesa and Mesa, for their part, got frustrated and started to commit silly penalties.
In Pool B Cal Poly ended up being the class of the group, although they had to work for it over Columbia. The Mustangs showcased some talent, including: Abbie Jens, who was good at breaking the line in the middle and had a long stride; Alexis Ingargiola, who was a key linking player; and Ellie Poore, who was a danger on attack and made a pile of huge tackles.
Day One Results
San Jose State 15 Yale 0
Colorado Mesa 27 Fairfield 0
Columbia 10 Cal Poly 17
University of Denver 14 San Diego State 24
Yale 10 Colorado Mesa 19
San Jose State 33 Fairfield 0
Columbia 22 University of Denver 7
Cal Poly 20 San Diego State 5
Cal Poly 26 University of Denver 10
Columbia 14 San Diego State 12
Yale 14 Fairfield 10
San Jose State 14 Colorado Mesa 7
This put Cal Poly against Mesa and SJSU vs Columbia in the semis on Sunday. Sunday morning the heavens opened and it the conditions were much changed. It was wet and what that did for the most part was challenge players to be attentive in their catch-pass. With the balls a little denser in the slightly cooler weather, kicking out of your own 22 was difficult, and defensive pressure was a nice way to produce scoring chances.
The Mesa-vs-Poly game was a battle. Poore was heroic, making at least two try-saving tackles, while Mesa’s team defense and speed into the breakdown was crucial.
Cal Poly opened the game by sending the kickoff rolling into touch. The Mustangs stole the ball after that and scored to take a 5-0 lead.
But Cal Poly’s attack of following your pass and playing with continuity was stymied by Mesa, who forced several holding-on penalties. Mesa would absorb pressure, then get the penalty, and relieve a bit of the pressure before having to defend again.
In the second half Mesa did find some time in the Cal Poly half and spun it wide to Ryleigh Blatnik, who raced off down the tramline and then curved in to the posts. Blatnik was all over the place for Mesa and deserved the try. The conversion was good and Mesa led 7-5.
The game had time to go and led by Jens the Mustangs worked their want close to the Mesa tryline. The Mavericks got the ball back but a forward pass set up a scrum about five meters from the Mesa goal. Somehow they defended that and finally, once again, earned a penalty. They closed it out from there.
The other semifinal saw San Jose State play a quick game against Columbia. While Columbia had scoring chances, those final passes just weren’t connecting. SJSU pinned the Lions in their half for much of the game, and Narravula scampered in for an early try. Battling the rain neither team could really break through and the Spartans held on 5-0.
So that set up the final between these new rivals. It took a while for teams to get close but finally Mesa scored late in the first half to take a 7-0 lead. But a red card vs. Mesa put them a player down and San Jose State capitalized with a breakaway from Narravula. Another penalty for SJSU this time led to a lineout. Head Coach James Fonda slotted in a tactical sub and that paid off as it set up a set move that resulted in a try out wide. San Jose State 14 Colorado Mesa 7.
Things looked tough for Mesa. Time was winding down. But a breakaway quickly tied it up, and Mesa then chased down the restart. They got a penalty, and another, pushed their advantage, and Blatnik was in for the game-winner. With Blatnik, Sarah Penick, and Emily Canvasser leading the way in a huge team defensive effort, somehow Mesa had pulled it out.
There was talent and ability throughout the bracket, but we’ll give a special nod to Logan Simson of Denver. While UD didn’t get a lot of victories, Simson’s work rate on both sides of the ball and her skill level set her side.
Team that struggled on Day One found improvement on Day Two as they learned from the tougher competition. Fairfield and San Diego State are two examples of this.
Final D2 Finishes:
Champions: Colorado Mesa
2nd: San Jose State
3rd: Cal Poly
5th (Bowl): San Diego State