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Take 3: Quinnipiac v Army for Varsity Title

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Take 3: Quinnipiac v Army for Varsity Title

Maggie Myles scored two tries for Quinnipiac today. (Photo courtesy Quinnipiac Athletics)

The top-two-ranked varsity teams, Quinnipiac and Army, won their NCVWRA semifinals against Norwich and American International College, respectively, and head to the first-ever varsity championship. The finalists split their regular-season matches by a total of five points, so a good game should evolve.

Especially if the fields dry up. Today's semifinals were marked by mud, and Army vs. AIC got the worst of it. The conditions prevented the wide-open game that both sides prefer and multiplied the handling errors for plenty of scrums.

“It leveled the playing field,” Army coach Bill LeClerc said with an eye toward AIC center Anne-Laurence Harvey, who still managed to break free and score tries. “The game became much more direct – smash mouth rugby. Sometimes it’s good.”

But on this occasion, “smash mouth” meant “frustrating,” as the teams couldn’t harness much momentum with the constant stoppages. But Army’s forwards did well enough to give their side the possession it needed to establish and retain a lead.

“Tranelle Patterson is a big, solid carrier, and she’s always good for go-forward,” LeClerc credited the standout pack players. “Kiki Redmon did a good job protecting the ball. She’s a great rucker, has great body position. They both had big games today.”

Army inside center Nicole Heavirland accounted for West Point’s 15 first-half points. She scored two tries, and kicked a conversion and penalty.

“We moved Nicole from flyhalf to inside center for the last couple of games, and it’s working well for us,” LeClerc said of the sophomore Eagle. “It gives her a little more time to see things and react. She’s a good runner, has a good step.”

Similarly, Harvey accounted for the majority of AIC’s points. She ended the day with 16 points (two tries, three conversions), and leads the Yellow Jackets point-scorers with 213 this season.

Army entered halftime up 15-7 and padded its lead with a Sydney Dossett try at minute 50. AIC made it interesting in the fourth quarter, sending Harvey and senior captain Muneera Patton across for tries. The difference was Carissa Pekny’s score, and the senior’s five points afforded the 25-21 win to Army.

“We were leading 22-7 with 20 minutes to go, and we thought we were safe,” LeClerc tipped his hat to AIC. “But somehow we managed to let it go. AIC finished tough; they always have a late rally against us.”

The pitch dried out a little for the second semifinal, and Quinnipiac and Norwich were able to work the ball more. The teams stayed even for most of the second half, but it was the Cadets who sent sophomore wing Alanna Giradin into the try zone first. Sheila Decker’s conversion gave Norwich the 7-0 edge, but it would be the only lead that the Cadets enjoyed all day.

The teams traded tries to stay at 12-12 until the 30th minute. The Bobcats then ran in three-straight tries, as former Cadet Ilona Maher and Maggie Myles dotted down their second scores of the game, and Jennifer Fremd opened up the second half with a try, 29-12.

Norwich closed the point differential to 14 before the final whistle (Ally Day, Jordan Day, and Riley Blankenship scored additional tries on the day), but Flora Poole’s try and Madison Gegeckas’ three conversion awarded the 36-22 victory.

That sets up the third Quinnipiac vs. Army match this fall, and if the teams follow tradition, then another single-digit contest is coming our way.

“It’ll be another good game,” LeClerc said. “They like to move the ball wide, and so do we. We need to use opportunities when they present themselves – and they will – and capitalize on them. Otherwise, we won’t stand a chance. They’re a good team.

“We need to tackle,” LeClerc reflected on the previous 20-12 game that went to Quinnipiac. “They ran through us like a knife through butter. Our lineout wasn’t working well against them either. We can’t afford to give them that much ball, which we did. We’ve been working on our scrum and lineout, but it was hard to judge this morning’s effort because of the conditions.”

Recovery is the most important part of the game right now, as everyone preps for Sunday. The final occurs at 1 p.m. EST, so stay tuned.