Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

East Side of DI Bracket Decided This Weekend

irish rugby tours

East Side of DI Bracket Decided This Weekend

Photo courtesy of MKA Photography

Saturday, Pitt, Virginia Tech, UVa, UNC, and JMU will be fighting for the top three seeds in the Mason-Dixon playoffs in a format that is going to test two teams especially hard.

Pitt and Virginia Tech kick off a play-in game at 11AM, and after that difficult encounter, the winner will have only a couple of hours before facing Virginia.

Virginia Tech challenged Pitt for their seed before playoffs. The only problem is that Pitt doesn't have an on-campus home field and needed to scrounge around for a playable pitch. After contacting 12 universities for an open pitch, Pitt settled on Penn State's field. Pitt, Virginia Tech, and Penn State were discussing having a Round Robin with their B-sides on March 26. However, that's not how it worked out.

"We confirmed it with [Virginia Tech], and the coaches confirmed it with each other as well on March 17," Pitt president Lora Matway said. "On March 22, we got a message saying we could not have it there anymore because it was further for Virginia Tech to travel."

League Commissioner and UVa coach Nancy Kechner said that Virginia Tech didn't know they were supposed to play at Penn State until two days before the game. Virginia Tech then decided to play against Pitt during the playoffs before the UVa game, and Pitt was shocked by this decision.

Overall, it seems like there was miscommunication throughout the entire scenario, but Pitt and Virginia Tech are attempting to prepare for the best-case scenario with back-to-back games.

"I think our girls are ready to be on the field," Pitt captain Allison Smyth said. "We're a fit team, and we have been working hard to come to this point. If it means playing three 80 minute rugby games in a weekend, we're going to try our best to make it through and hopefully make it to Georgia in the end."

UVa hasn't been concerned with the thought that they may need to play one team instead of the other although Kechner did admit "Virginia Tech matters to us. It's our school's huge rival, so it's usually a tough game." For them, it's about getting that #1 seed.

"My coach has really emphasized playing our game and not being impacted by the way other teams play," UVa captain Zoe Schmitt said. "We are focusing on us and game time decision making."

While UVa isn't sure of which team it will be facing, JMU is preparing for UNC who lost to UVa last weekend.

"They certainly have a lot of size in their forwards, so that's always a challenge for us since we are often undersized," JMU coach Roshna Wunderlich said. "I never like to take anything for granted; anything could happen on any weekend, but it'll be fun. The last time we met UNC in the first round of the playoffs, we had a great upset."

The winner of each playoff game after the challenge match will continue to Sunday's game to battle for the #1 seed. The winner of the consolation match will take the #3 seed.

Next weekend, UCF will see the Mason Dixon #2 in the Round of 8, and the Mason Dixon #1 seed will play against the Mason Dixon #3 seed.