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Salisbury Returns to Pittsburgh

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Salisbury Returns to Pittsburgh

Photo: Megan Findle

The Mid-Atlantic women’s DII college quarterfinal was an interesting one. Two conference runners-up – Capital’s Salisbury and Carolinas’ College of Charleston – won their Round of 16 matches, while their respective conference champions (Mary Washington and South Carolina) were eliminated on Saturday. With a return ticket to Pittsburgh resting on Sunday’s quarterfinal, Salisbury outlasted Charleston in a 22-19 battle.

 

 

After Salisbury beat IUP 50-15 on Saturday, the Maryland team took in Charleston’s 13-5 victory over Mary Washington.

“They play a more forward-oriented game,” Salisbury coach Brock Brooks said. “They stuck around the fringes, hit the A & B gap a lot. There were a lot of pick-and-goes and crash ball – very physical.”

Salisbury plays a faster, wide-open game, and Sunday became a clash of styles.

“We were used to [forward-oriented play], but not at the level they played it,” Brooks said. “It didn’t really hurt us; it just helped us adapt to a different style of rugby. We had to put more people on the fringes and attack their pick-and-goes.”

Flanker Lena Ferreira and No. 8 Kathryn Todorovich were instrumental in confronting Charleston’s powerful pack and disrupting their tight game.

“I asked them to increase the work load in forward play, and they did,” Brooks said. “My front rows – Ericka Landeck and Sara Mercado – hunkered down in the A & B gaps, forced them back into the ruck, and stopped a lot of the gains.”

Despite being outsized at the breakdown, Salisbury was able to turnover some possession, and that’s when the team indulged in its preferred style of play. Through the direction of leaders Jess Barnhart and Ashley Chafin, Salisbury quickly moved the ball away from the point of contact, where much of Charleston’s personnel was concentrated. That left nearly the whole width of the pitch with which to play, and Salisbury's potent back three of Amber Rose, Rayne Throuwborst, and Mariah Hackett went to work, either scoring tries or setting them up.

Salisbury took a 10-0 lead on tries from Malie Lockard and Hackett, but then Charleston rallied with back-to-back scores in the middle of the game. Salisbury reinstated the 10-point differential with tries from Barnhart and Rose, before Charleston closed with a converted try, 22-19.

“This is the farthest we’ve ever gone into playoffs,” Brooks said. “This team is unlike anything they’ve had before. We play toward bigger things, and this team really embraces that.”

Salisbury will face Southwest champion UC Riverside in the spring semifinals, while CSU Northridge plays Florida International on the other side of the bracket.