DII Final Four Weekend: Players to Watch
DII Final Four Weekend: Players to Watch
The Women’s DII College Fall Championship, hosted by ACRA, will be live-streamed beginning tomorrow at 9 a.m. ET. Follow along with the commentators and take note of the following players who will likely feature heavily in the weekend's games:
NOTRE DAME COLLEGE
The Falcons are heading to DI next year, and they have the athletes to do it. You’ve heard of Hannah Gauthreaux, Leah Walsh, Irayda Macedo – and you’ll continue to hear their names this weekend.
We expect Patsy Ford to make a big impact this weekend. The prop brings a lot of physicality and size to the scrum, but much like the rest of the squad, is very mobile and moves around the pitch well. Put her 10 meters out from the tryline and there’s no stopping her.
Hannah Long is no newcomer and has a new home at second row. Although she’s missed at the back of the scrum, she’s contributing in new, exciting ways. Watch the lock during kickoffs – she’ll be tearing off the line and looking to cause all kinds of trouble for the receiver. Long has great hands and body control, and is really fun to watch.
And we really like the Hawaiian contingent that is now present on the squad. The highest profile player is Danielle Walko-Siua, a Junior Olympian. But Kailyn Tilini and Kawena Mendiola are two really exciting players in the forwards. All three are short in stature but so dynamic and comfortable with contact.
The Black Katts bid farewell to a number of influential players last spring, but some rising stars are distinguishing themselves. Causing the most trouble for opponents is Lanoira Duhart. When playing in the centers, Duhart uses her size and power to suck in defenders and open up space for teammates. When she moves to the front row, she ups the tempo and makes the already intimidating pack more dangerous.
We love that Winona is experimenting between the forwards and backs, and Nadia Nassif is the epitome of such. The senior is much more than a utility player; she has played flanker, scrumhalf, inside center and fullback this season, and her flexibility is a testament to her range of skill.
Nassif is joined by a host of able backs, as is Courtney Kavajecz in the forwards. But the towering lock is the one to follow, which will be easy considering her height. Kavajecz is a master in the lineout and a power in the breakdown. She likes the open field, too, and isn’t afraid to stretch her legs.
It’s safe to say that we all want to see flyhalf Mary Cate Matta play this weekend. Kutztown coach Sean Cobb greatly lamented her absence last year, when the playmaker was injured late in the season and missed the championships. Great field vision and an able boot, Matta has been reasserting her influence all season, and regionals felt her impact when she scored two tries against Vassar in the 22-20 quarterfinal win.
Tabetha Super is the most well known player on the team, having played for various all-star 7s teams, so it was unexpected when Cobb credited Super’s defensive prowess in shutting down Stonehill’s exceptional speed during playoffs.
And no mention of Kutztown is complete without acknowledging Faith Hughes. Forget the fact that the captain is a fantastic player – big, strong and fast – but she’s the heart of the team. The Pennsylvania team has had issues with starting slowly, and without exception, Hughes has corralled the troops, re-centered the team with an informed, inspiring speech, and essentially turned around the team’s performance. That’s a lot of power, and respect, and expect Hughes to take center stage this weekend.
One of Bowdoin’s most influential players – Randi London – might not be playing at full steam. The No. 8 suffered a couple of nicks during the last round of playoffs and eventually came off the field against Marist in the quarterfinals. Should London have to curtail her time on the field, the team will be missing its best kicker and one of its best try-scorers.
Addison Carvajal is equally important to the team’s success. The outside center was responsible for several tries against Rutgers and Marist in two very close playoff games. As impressive as the junior is, she’s surrounded by excellent backs like Samantha Hoegle and Charlotte Kleiman, who spend their fair share in the try zone as well.
In the forwards, look toward Anna Piotti, Paige Pfannesnstiel and Le’Shauna Phinazee to lead the fight in tight.