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Playoff Decision Pays Off For Navy Women

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Playoff Decision Pays Off For Navy Women

A very specific decision moment is responsible for Navy being in the Women’s Fall DI College final against Air Force.

With the playoffs looming, the Midshipmen had scheduled a game with Notre Dame on November 16. But as the season progressed, Navy realized they might have done enough for an at-large place in the playoffs.

“We saw that we had what I think is our strongest team in a while, and we realized that we would be in a position to play a play-in game,” said captain Abby Ebersole. 

It was a bit of a shot in the dark, but they figured they didn’t have anything to lose. 

“So we opted to go into the playoffs and see how far we could go,” Ebersole added.

They have gone pretty far. Navy defeated Northeastern to get into the fall quarterfinal round, After that, they defeated Davenport 45-22 thanks to four-try surge in the second half, and then they won the semifinal against UConn 17-10.

“The key for us has been that we play together,” Ebersole said. “None of us have played rugby before we came to the Naval Academy. So when we make mistakes we tend to make them together. We’re all learning together and that brings us together.”

The arrival of Murphy McCarthy as head coach has provided some stability and he has Navy playing some strong defense and intelligent ball-control rugby.

“We have a good set of forwards and we’re very fit so we make sure we retain the ball and do the basics right,” said Ebersole. “And in the backs we also play a lot of sevens so we’re pretty comfortable defending in the open field.”

It’s a good combination, and one that seems to be improving as the level of play improves. They have to be happy they decided to play that first playoff game.