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Mary Washington, AU Compete for #2 Seed in Capital

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Mary Washington, AU Compete for #2 Seed in Capital

Photo courtesy of University of Mary Washington Women's Rugby

Mary Washington took a 50-42 win, and maybe a playoff spot, from American University last Saturday thanks, in part, to the traffic.

Both teams scored the same amount of tries, forcing each kicker to determine the outcome of the game. Luckily for Mary Washington and unluckiny for America, traffic delayed some key AU starters and they missed the first half.

With all of their players back in, AU mounted a comeback. but couldn’t recover enough to catch MWU.

“By the time we got into the second half, we had everyone there and got into a really good rhythm,” AU flyhalf Kelly Maranchuck said. “There was a mentality because people were nervous that they were out of position. We had rookies in there who were nervous. If we had all our starters there, we would have been a lot more confident, and it would have gone a lot smoother.”

The AU forwards dominated in the scrums and did an excellent job pushing their opposition around on the field. The backs were able to recognize Mary Wash’s utilization of space and adjusted appropriately on defense to drive runners toward the sidelines. Inside center Siena Cicarelli stuck numerous hits and used her speed and strength that she gained from previously playing in the forward pack to run through Mary Wash’s defense.

“I think there was something funny that happened psychologically there,” Mary Wash coach Kris Kabza said. “If you go out and play 95% instead of 100%, you just get steam-rolled if you’re not careful. [AU] scored three in a row on us, and the look on our face; we were just dumbfounded. We never really got back into the game.”

After a while, Mary Washington’s game play began to decrease. Regardless if it was due to AU’s newfound confidence or the fact that the competition grew rougher as exhaustion set in, Mary Washington’s mentality and confidence began to waiver, according to Kanza. However, AU thought differently, and MWU’s previous national ranking was a constant factor in the heads of AU’s less experienced players, which affected their game play as well.

“Mary Wash can be very intimidating,” Maranchuck said. “In terms of our team, there is a lot more experience in our forward pack than in our backline. There was a lot of dropped ball because we had some rookies in, and I think they were just nervous.”

Regardless of past games, both teams will need to improve in order to win against the higher level of competition they may see in the Round of 16. Salisbury is settled firmly into the #1 spot within the Capital Collegiate Conference. The #2 spot is still up for grabs, and there are chances for at-large bids, as well.

American University's last opportunity to impress USA Rugby will be this Saturday’s game against Maryland. Mary Washington, on the other hand, played Catholic University directly before AU and secured another win, 49-15. Before that, they played Rappahannock and won 50-15. This Saturday, MWU will play George Washington University in hopes of securing the seed for the Round of 16.