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Finals Weekend Caps Journey for Nine Women's College Playoff Winners

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Finals Weekend Caps Journey for Nine Women's College Playoff Winners

Navy celebrates their victory. Alex Goff photo.

This fall produced fully nine women’s collegiate champions on at least a moderately national level.


Three of them were in the NCAA varsity league, NIRA.

Young Bowdoin Forwards Lead Way to NIRA DIII Title

A Classic as Queens Defeats Davenport in OT to Win NIRA DII

Dartmouth Holds On to be NIRA D1 Champions


Three were produced at the CRAA Fall Classic.

Lindenwood held off Life 17-15 in the women’s D1 Elite final.

Lindenwood Edges Life for D1 Elite Championship

Navy exploded for 61 points against Utah State, although USU turned thing around a bit in the second half to score three converted tries and finish with 28.

Marissa Meyer was a constant danger in the centers and was game MVP while Megan Leitz, Sadie Eiting, Grace Oliver, Chris Foster, Siena Hall, and Abby Herschner all touched down. Meyer got two. 

Utah State, having gone 6-0 in the Rocky Mountain and made their way past UConn in the semis were athletic and produced a lot of good rugby, but the overall team defense and attacking pattern saw Navy win comfortably.

USU scrummed well (surprisingly well given their size and experience) and players such as fullback Sarah Wilkinson and center Abbey Hymas were very dangerous.

Vassar defeated Coast Guard to the tune of 71-24 to win the CRAA D2, but it didn’t start out that way. Wary of Vassar’s ball-control success, Coast Guard wanted to score quickly and they did, winning the ball off the restart and sending it wide to wing Sarah Moore, who raced in. Coast Guard’s desire and ability to send long leading passes wide to their outside backs is almost unique in the D2 arena.

But getting the ball to being with was difficult. Vassar ran pick-and-goes with multiple forwards around the ball, an approach that requires teamwork and fitness. When Coast Guard infringed, freshman scrumhalf tapped quickly and was all kinds of problems. 

Bailey scored a try off the back of a series of pick-and-goes, and then added an improbably meandering try. Quick-tapping at the 50 on the right side she weaved left, and when Coast Guard over-pursued just a little, cut back to the right and weaved back to score on the right side again. 

Center Caeli Porette led the Vassar defense and  scored three impressive tries, including an interception where they seemed to have gecko pads on their fingertips.

The entire Vassar forward pack was impressive.


In NCR, Michigan shocked many observers (including those at GRR World HQ) by not only beating Notre Dame College, but beating the Falcons in convincing fashion 41-14. 

Michigan’s main weapon has been Ember Larson and NDC could not contain her, as the fullback scored four tries.

Wisconsin Eau-Claire completed a short but impressive season in which they hammered pretty much everyone they played. They beat Roger Williams 44-0 in the semis and Marquette 78-0 in the final. 

Cerys Ride, playing wing, was MVP of the playoffs.

And Endicott beat Lee to win the NCR Small College final, setting up a possibility of a two-for for the Beverly, Mass. college. Endicott’s men are in their final four, so Endicott could become undisputed small-college dominators.

Flanker Jourdan Vanamburgh was named the playoff MVP.

Is It Worth Comparing?

It really isn’t worth comparing these playoff winners. With all the talk about “National Champions” the truth of the matter is that while the NCAA teams are champions in their specific category, really all of the categories are split. And that doesn’t even take into account the winter/spring, where divisions in the West chase their own championships.

Just for fun, GRR looked at D2 (D3 in NIRA) because there was a very small amount of crossover. Vassar played Bowdoin, the D3 NIRA champion and won a close game. These two teams are usually close and if Vassar were to ever become NCAA (and there are those who support such a move) they would be in the same division as Bowdoin. While neither Bowdoin nor Vassar played UW Eau-Claire, Bowdoin did play, and beat, University of New England.

UNE lost to Colby 35-0, and Colby lost 24-17 to Roger Williams. RWU lost 44-0 to Eau-Claire.

If you just add scores (which is a bit of a minefield), what that gives you is Eau-Claire being 51 points better than Colby, and Bowdoin being about 61 points better (we averaged the two scored between Bowdoin and UNE), and Vassar was seven points better than Bowdoin. 

That doesn’t mean Vassar is necessarily stronger than Eau-Claire; it shows how difficult it all is—Vassar, Bowdoin, and Eau-Claire are probably all very close. Adding Fairfield, who split their games with Vassar, and you’d have a really interesting little tournament.

For now, here are the nine playoff champions from this fall:

NIRA D1: Dartmouth

D1 Elite: Lindenwood

D1 CRAA: Navy

D1 NCR: Michigan

NIRA D2: Queens U. Charlotte

NIRA D3: Bowdoin

D2 CRAA: Vassar

D2 NCR: UW Eau-Claire

Small College: Endicott