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Florida Reps in DII South Regional

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Florida Reps in DII South Regional

USF outlasted South Carolina for a berth to the DII quarters.

It’s going to be an all-Florida showdown in the South DII quarterfinal, as Florida International and South Florida proved their inconsistent matrix season didn’t affect their post-season potential. USF defeated South Carolina 32-22, while FIU bettered Alabama 27-10 in today’s Round of 16 matches.

Both sides packed their off-season with 7s, intersquad games, and loads of fitness training, and it paid off against the SIRC and Carolinas champs.

“Our women have worked extremely hard and we're profoundly proud of what they were able to accomplish on the pitch today,” South Florida coach Lis Gallant said. “The score was not really indicative of the disparity in possession throughout the game, as we controlled the ball for the vast majority of play in both halves.”

USF was missing starting scrumhalf Victoria Koster and No. 8 MacKenzie Logan, but the eager, young team minimized the effect of their absence, aside from a couple of defensive miscues on the outside.

“In terms of differences, I would say the driving force behind our victory was the fact that our backline really came into their own today,” Gallant said. “All six of our backline players scored. … Today's match was one of those games where everything finally clicked for some of our newer players, and I am excited to see how the girls play tomorrow going into it with the confidence of today's win.”

FIU relied on its superior fitness and the leadership of nationals vets captain Leandria Ates, Eileen De La Rosa, Rayehanna Salkey, and Kerri-Ann Elaise.

“Alabama was much bigger than us, so we made sure that our girls didn’t engage them too much as far as counterucking,” FIU coach Trevor Alfred said. “But we used what we have – our speed and aggression to counter their size. Once we realized that they couldn’t hang with us fitness wise, that‘s when we started exploiting their weaknesses. They started making mistakes because they were tired of chasing us, so there were errant passes that allowed us to advance on the ball and push our way through.”

It took about 20 minutes for FIU to start running in the tries, but Ashaunte Stroman, Adina Minott, Brittany Wilcox, and Senait Mcleod all scored.

Florida International and South Florida did play in the regular season, and FIU won that game 64-7. Gallant indicated that her team was missing several people in crucial positions, and the untested team struggled with the adjustments.

“The score was indicative of [what we can do], but not necessarily USF,” Alfred explained the point differential. “They have a good team, but they are missing a few key elements. The have a great coach and some talented girls, but they may not have as many veterans in place to guide the girls. Every time we play, it is a physical, knock-down battle, regardless of score.”

And regardless of the winner, Florida will have a representative in Pittsburgh in two weeks.