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NIRA Playoffs Ramp Up

College Women

NIRA Playoffs Ramp Up

It’s NIRA playoff time already with 12 teams looking for championship in three divisions.

The National Intercollegiate Rugby Association pits varsity women’s programs against each other. The top tier features five teams, reduced from previous years as the balance of power and strength levels out.

That’s why we’ve seen Brown, West Chester, and AIC move into a 2nd tier.

Tier I

Army has been excellent this year. The Black Knights defense has been tight, with three shutouts on their record. Offensively, Army has been clicking nicely, too, with Damaria Morton leading the tea with 11 tries.

Charisma Henry and Sam Sullivan have also been lights out. But other players have begun to emerge, including scrumhalf Kaitlyn Schwarting, who scored three tries October 26 against Quinnipiac. 

Army hopes to repeat tat 55-14 win over Quinnipiac, as those two meet up again at West Point on Saturday evening.

The other semi will be Dartmouth vs Harvard. These two know each other very well, having played each other twice this fall. They split those games. On September 21, Harvard beat Dartmouth 50-34 behind two tries from Emily Prentice and two from Achele Agada. Prentice has been a key leader for Harvard this season.

In the rematch, which was also the Ivy League Championship, Dartmouth won 41-22. Freshman Kristin Bitter scored 16 points in that game and Idia Ihensekhien scored three tries in the win. 

So this is a pick ‘em game, and one that promises plenty of tries.

Both games will be on ESPN+

Tier II

West Chester was the powerhouse in this league, finishing up 6-0. But that includes a tight 15-14 win over Mount St. Mary’s October 6. 

That was perhaps the high water mark for MSM, and these two meet up again this week. West Chester got two tries from Autumn Czaplicki in that game—nothing different there, she leads the team with 11 tries on the season.

The game will be shown live here >>

"The team has really been focused this year on improving each week and building on what they know," said West Chester Head Coach Tony DeRemer. "I am proud of how hard they have worked and how committed they are to winning every week. 

"We've developed a strong rivalry with Mount St. Mary's with some very close games over the past few years and this weekend will be no different. I know The Mount will come out hungry. But, we just have to play our game and settle into our game plan."

In the other semi, Brown takes on Queens. Those two met October 26, and Brown won 36-29 behind two tries from Olivia Duba.

Head Coach Kathy Flores has challenged her team with games against Dartmouth and Harvard, as well as league play. Brown lost those games, and also to West Chester, but have looked stronger every week.

Since crushing Coastal Carolina, Queens has beaten AIC by a point and lost to West Chester and Brown. They have been competitive losses, but certainly there’s some reason to think the Royals will have a tough time of it.

But Antares Lance, Allie English, and Angelica Rodriguez have been playing well, and can certainly lead Queens further.

Tier III

Colby-Sawyer has dominated this division, no team got within 20 points of Colby-Sawyer until a non-league game against Norwich, which Norwich won.

The game will be shown live here >> 

Now Colby-Sawyer faces University of New England in the semis, a team Colby-Sawyer beat 39-19 October 12. Jordyn Enos scored three tries in that game. Two weeks before, it was a 58-0 Colby-Sawyer win, with Bailey Burt scoring four.

In the other semi, Bowdoin, 3-1, takes on Norwich, 2-2. Norwich has to take some confidence from that win over Colby-Sawyer,one in which Emma Parizo scored four tries. Bowdoin, meanwhile, played Colby-Sawyer November 3 in a non-league game and lost 18-10. 

Ashlyn Autrey and Liz D’Angelo are defensive leaders on a team that hits hard.