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Great Midwest Semifinals Close to Confirmed

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Great Midwest Semifinals Close to Confirmed

In a way, the team that came out of this weekend in Great Midwest rugby action was a team that didn't play.

Illinois State was keeping a close eye on how the GMW South was progressing and clearly this weekend when Chicago played two games and so did Northwestern would be pivotal. For ISU this was the best of outcomes. Chicago beat Northwestern on Thursday, making the Wildcats' win over Northern Illinois less threatening.

Meanwhile, Chicago lost to Loyola, putting Northwestern at 2-1, Chicago at 1-2, and Loyola at 4-0.

For 3-1 Illinois State, they now control their destiny with next week's clash against Northwestern. A victory puts them at 4-1 and in the semifinals. A loss could open the door to Northwestern, but they'd only have themselves to blame if that happens.

Loyola, meanwhile, has to be feeling happy in 1st place.

"Happy is an understatement," said Loyola Head Coach Sal Carfagno. "No better feeling then going to someone’s home turf and holding them scoreless to deep into the second half. Incredible defense in the first half led us to be up 19-0 in the first half. Offensively we had a great showing and utilized the foot well with some good bounces from Lev and Ben."

That would be Lev Illouz and Ben Payne. Their loose forwards, including Zach Acton and Tadhg Scanlon, have been very strong, while some key lineout steals from Graham Ryer allowed Loyola to keep applying the pressure.

And that's even before we get to the man of the match Declan Heffernan, who chimed in with some try-saving tackles against some big runners.

"While this was a great win especially on the road, we have a lot to improve on and we’re looking forward to taking on a strong Northwestern team next week," said Carfagno.

That's right, Northwestern plays Illinois State and Loyola, the top two teams in the GMW South, over the space of three days, October 20 and 22.

In the North, it's all over bar the shouting with Northern Iowa putting up over 100 on UW-Milwaukee. 

Marquette finished their conference schedule with a well-taken victory over UW-Platteville. But that is likely not enough as Wisconsin-Whitewater is at 2-1 and just needs to win to secure a semifinal spot.

So, unless we get something really surprising, Northern Iowa should take on Illinois State in one semi, while Loyola faces Whitewater in the other.