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MSU Moorhead Shocks Everyone To Win Northern Lights

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MSU Moorhead Shocks Everyone To Win Northern Lights

The MSUM guys celebrate a victory only they expected.

Minnesota State University-Moorhead pulled off a two-day shocker this weekend to win the Men's DII Championship in the Northern Lights Conference.

Coming in unranked by Goff Rugby Report and seeded #3, Moorhead defeated St. Thomas and St. John's to take the championship and a seed to the national championships. St. John's had already created its own upset, beating previously undefeated North Dakota State 25-22 in the semis on Saturday.

For Moorhead, the #3 seeding was perhaps fair, but not reflective of how good the team is.

"We felt we were under-seeded," said Head Coach Kody Krautkremer. 

Moorhead was 3-1-1 in the league season, with a loss to St. Thomas where they were missing some key seniors, and a tie with North Dakota State because the game was canceled due to a snowstorm that froze our both campuses and closed the roads. Without any chance to reschedule that game, it was deemed a tie.

So, really, Moorhead hadn't had a chance to prove itself of late.

"We finally got a chance to play our brand of rugby," said Krautkremer. "We were able to use our backs and move the ball. We felt a lot of doubt from the rest of the league about us and I think the guys really wanted another shot at St. Thomas."

And they got it, taking St. Thomas down 17-5 behind a sterling performance from flanker Jordan head. Meanwhile, St. John's, the #4 seed, edged North Dakota State 25-22, leaving NDSU shaking their heads. In Sunday's final, with Tanner Molitor playing well at both inside center and lock (yes, that's right), Moorhead pulled away 60-19.

St. Thomas went on to defeat NDSU for 3rd.

So now Moorhead can look forward to a berth in the national playoffs.

"We're all hard at work trying to make tat happen," said Krautkremer. Moorhead is a small school, known for its reputation as a strong teacher's college. But with fewer than 5,000 full-time undergraduate students, and with the male population well short of 2,000, the team easily qualifies as an NSCRO program. They decided to play DII, however, and the move to the playoffs has the alumni and the school mobilized.

"The school has been very helpful and so have the alumni and the community," said Krautkremer. "They will get behind us."