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Final Four Journey Four Months in the Making

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Final Four Journey Four Months in the Making

Photo courtesy of USC Women's Rugby

Making the DII Women's National Spring Final Four is no small feat, especially if you're Salisbury, Tulane, Southern California, or Humboldt State. Each of these teams not only clawed their way through the normal resistance of competition, retention of numbers, injury, and exhaustion, but they also handily took the win from their oppositions on April 10 during the Round of 16. Tomorrow, they will be accepting the next challenge to become national champions.

While Salisbury beat Mary Washington 48-14, Tulane took a 39-0 over Arkansas, USC conquered Fresno State 41-24, and Humboldt State walked away from Reno with a 37-12 win. And though each team is facing competition that is just as capable as the other, none of them are sauntering into the Final Fours without confidence. 

"As the season had progressed, the belief in the team has grown immensely," USC coach Ian Ibbestson said. "They have faith in each others' roles and most of all, they never give up."

"We are going into this weekend as if it were just another game," Humboldt State coach Jasmine Phiengsai said. "You can see the excitement and anticipation on everyone's face. We always have a good time."

"We started out the season playing all Division I teams to work us up to this point," Salisbury captain Ericka Landeck said. "DI teams have more experience whereas DII play more basics of rugby. So, we've been pretty confident this season."

As always, defense wins the game, and offense determines by how much. While the teams are tightening up their skillsets, each one has an advantage the other does not. Salisbury has been playing with the same group of 16 starters since their freshmen years. Now seniors, they believe their communication and flow are better than ever. Humboldt State is playe- coached - something they see as a positive that lets them better understand what needs to be tweaked in their mental and physical toughness. USC has been able to play the underdog card and sweep teams away after their opposition gains a significant point differential. Tulane has had their community show extra support and recently had a massage therapist train them on how to recover faster.

Tomorrow, the Final Four competition will begin at UC Davis with Humboldt facing USC and Salisbury seeing Tulane.

The winners will play Sunday for the right to meet fall champion Davenport May 7.