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NIRA Heats Up With All Divisions in Action This Weekend

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NIRA Heats Up With All Divisions in Action This Weekend

Bowdoin, defending NIRA DIII champions, are in action this weekend. Mark Washburn photo.

All divisions in NIRA are in action this weekend, as well as some head-turning non-conference matchups.

There isn't a lot of crossover between NIRA and D1 Elite, but it happens sometimes. We see a little bit of that this weekend with Life University playing at Lander and Penn State at Queens. For Life this is likely a game for some less experienced players. Still, this is the first runout for the Running Eagles under new Head Coach Ryszard Chadwick. Meanwhile, Lander Head Coach Ken Paper is eager to put his side under pressure, and he also has his 2nds playing Guildford on the same weekend. His side is coming off a 44-0 loss to Navy, so they don't seem to be backing off from anyone.


Defending champs Bowdoin are coming off a good win over University of New England and will face Colby. No. 8 Rebecca Vakarau, who was the MVP of the 2021 DIII final, as a freshman mind you, is back and scored a try. So did front-rower Jorja Markella and lock Maggie Norton. Wing Saniya Ridley scored two. The Polar Bears have reloaded very nicely.

Norwich hosts Castleton in what is the first full-length 15s game for both. Castleton beat Colby-Sawyer in a series of short games last week, winning two and losing one. Norwich takes the field for the first time.


Defending champs AIC play a non-conference game against new varsity program Navy. The US Naval Academy will be joining NIRA full-time next year, but this year will just follow a season of tough games against NIRA teams plus some other well-regarded squads (Central Washington, for example). Navy won last week 44-0 over Lander with two tries from back Chelsey Washington. AIC opened their season September 1 with a big win over New Haven, and are returning several players who won the DII NCAA National Championship last year.

The team they beat, West Chester, visits New Haven. WCU has to be frustrated after their game with Davenport was postponed. But this is a talented, expericned side and they can handle that.


Army has won big in their two openers but face a tough opponent in Quinnipiac in Connecticut. Codi Butt leads the Black Knights with five tries and 40 points. Alissa Eisenhart has scored 36 points, and freshman Cecilia Ollis has three tries so far this season. They take on a Quinnipiac team that is 1-1 after beating Brown and losing 48-19 to Harvard. 

Brown is at Princeton, while Dartmouth finally opens up their season playing upstarts Sacred Heart, who sit 1-0-1. Defending DI champs Dartmouth welcome back 2019 Sorensen winner and capped Eagle Emily Henrich back for a 5th year, which is a huge boost. They also get Olympian Ariana Ramsey back for her 5th year and the very talented Sophie Ragg as well. Kristin Bitter holds down flyhalf in a still experienced backline. Sacred Heart will have their work cut out for them. 

Confidence and Trust Help Sacred Heart to Opening NIRA Win 

Crossover Matches

We mentioned AIC hosting Navy and also Lander hosting Life. Also on the slate is Queens hosting Penn State in a very intriguing NIRA v D1 Elite meeting. This is a pretty young Penn State side, with just one senior on their roster nd 20 freshmen and sophomores. 

Check back for scores:

9/17 Newberry at Alderson Broaddus NIRA Dev
9/17 Navy 5-12 AIC Non-Conference
9/17 Colby College 0-28 Bowdoin NIRA DIII-Watch 1PM ET
9/17 McKendree Ccld Davenport Non-Conference
9/17 Life 83-0 Lander Non-Conference
9/17 Guilford at Lander JV NIRA Dev
9/17 Harvard 95-3 Mount St. Mary's NIRA DI-Watch 11:45AM ET
9/17 Longwood University at Mount St. Mary's B NIRA Dev
9/17 Castleton 13-34 Norwich NIRA DIII-Watch 11AM ET
9/17 Brown 83-0 Princeton NIRA DI
9/17 Army 24-19 Quinnipiac NIRA DI-Watch 12:45PM ET
9/17 Dartmouth 29-3 Sacred Heart NIRA DI-Watch 11AM ET
9/17 Army B at UNE NIRA Dev
9/18 West Chester 66-0 U. New Haven NIRA DII
9/18 Penn State 19-41 Queens Non-Conference