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CRAA 15s Season Capped With Finals Weekend in Houston

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CRAA 15s Season Capped With Finals Weekend in Houston

Can navy make it two in a row? Katie Mayer photo.

CRAA’s Finalist Weekend kicks off on Friday with the pool play for the Women’s Premier and Women’s College-Club 7s.

But there’s plenty more going on in Houston (aside form the thunderstorms delaying air traffic).

Saturday and Sunday will see four championship matches plus two bowl games. All of this will be shown live on The Rugby Network:

Here’s a closer look at the 7s tournament:

CRAA Women's 7s Set for This Weekend

Here’s a look at the 15s games:

Bowl Game: Air Force Academy vs St. Thomas University

Kickoff Saturday, 10:30AM

This is an interesting Bowl Game in that it is a D1A team that’s been around for a while in Air Force, and relatively new D1AA team St. Thomas. St. Thomas won the Florida league (which, mostly for cost reasons, doesn’t participate in a playoff postseason), taking a tight final 30-24 over the Florida Gators.

Those self-same Florida Gators will play Sam Houston State in a clash of the Eastern Regional runners-up (SHSU) and the Florida runners-up. Gators Head Coach Ken Simmons loves his group’s team play and discipline. That’s what wins games for them. For SHSU, being dynamic and smart works for them.

Bowl Game: Florida vs Sam Houston State

Kickoff Sunday 1PM

Men’s D1AA Championship: Iowa State vs U. San Diego

San Diego played in a somewhat small conference, but they have some significant institutional memory of success. They edged Western Washington in the Western Regional final on a bit of a bizarre play …

That was a case, in the end, of some significant hustle.

For Iowa State, the Cyclones started the season 0-2 in preseason games but ran the table in the HOA league.

“Replacing so much of our roster from last year, we had to be creative and intense about getting the roster to where it needed to be,” said ISU Head Coach Ant Frein. “While those losses early in the season were a blow to some guys’ confidence, I think they provided a good measuring stick to where we needed to be and where we needed to improve. We have one of the youngest rosters in the country, but they have played a tough schedule with a lot of our players developing in 2nd-side matches and moving to the 1st side.”

USD, meanwhile, has a number of players who have been there before. The Toreros know how to win big games. And while Head Coach Kevin Eaton felt his side was fortunate to beat Western Washington—he used the word “unconventional” but he also said he was proud to see his side storm back from a 21-8 deficit.

It will be that tenacity that makes the difference for a USD that was just pipped by Iowa State last year.

“Last year when we played San Diego we were blown away by the character and professionalism of their team and staff,” said Frein. “I would be lying if I said we did not look at some of the areas they were better at than us and implemented it into our program. Logan Tatum, SD’s captain, and I have a relationship that goes back to his high school days, so after the match last year we both talked about how we would not be surprised if we both met again at this point in the future.”

D1AA Final: Iowa State vs Univ. San Diego

Kickoff 1:45PM Saturday

D1A Final

Navy’s unflinching defense meets tge astonishing offense of Saint Mary’s. But that’s being too simplistic—Navy can score and they can be brutally clinical on attack. Saint Mary’s can defend—in fact many of those length-of-the-field tries came from defensive pressure.

But still Navy will to be alert when Saint Mary’s has a penalty or free kick, or a turnover. And Saint Mary’s will have to be patient if they don’t get the tries they expect.

More on this from our video:

D1A Final: Navy vs Saint Mary’s

Kickoff 7:05PM Saturday

Women’s Finals

More on these games in a bit. The D2 final sees Eckerd against Cal Poly. Both teams have dominated their conferences. The D1 final sees a very, very good Stanford team against Grand Canyon which has played s hybrid D1 Elite and straight D1 schedule. Stanford has lost just the two games, against NIRA team Princeton, and against Western Washington, but they garnered revenge on that game in the Western Regionals. 

Grand Canyon’s found wins against D1 Elite opposition hard to come by but it toughened them up for games against the likes of Arizona, ASU, UCSB, UCLA, Claremont, USD, and SDSU. They beat them all, holding most of them to no tries. They edged Cal and Virginia to make this final and it’s those close games that will see them right for the championship match.