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UConn, BC Candidates for NE Seed

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UConn, BC Candidates for NE Seed

UConn looks to return to DI playoffs. (Photo courtesy James C. Garman / SportsPageMagazine.com)

There is one more stage before the Northeast names its representative to the DI fall Round of 8. Standings leaders UConn and Boston College will meet on Nov. 7 for the conference final and determine which team will head directly to the national playoffs. The runner-up will move into the play-in round on Nov. 14 and play a non-varsity Ivy League team for the opportunity to join the eastern quarterfinal pool at Vassar College on Nov. 21-22.

Both teams have one more league game this Saturday, but the results are irrelevant. UConn (6-0) and Boston College (5-1) have enough standings points to withstand a loss without risk of switching spots with #3 Boston University (3-3). The Huskies face Northeastern and will have the freedom to work its depth against its 0-6 opponent. Look for lead scorer Laura Heatherman to be influential early on. The flanker scores tries and kicks conversions, and leads her team with 48 points this season. Centers Rachel Gomes and Jasmin Folch have proven effective strikers and combined for 60 points thus far, and wing Devon Gold adds nice speed down the touchline, contributing six tries this season. In the forwards, Jess Alves, Lily Fontes, Sofia Gonzalez, Amanda Lazarus and Tess Repaci have all dotted down for the Huskies this fall.

The Eagles could embrace a depth-building mentality, too, but one assumes that a victory over rival Boston University would be the perfect boost into post-season. Boston College won the first game 46-20, and the match will be a good opportunity to get its top side ready for knockouts.

Center Monica Thorne leads the entire Northeast on points scored, accounting for 95 of Boston College’s 210 points thus far. Most of Boston College’s points come out of its backs, with fullback Laura Krivicich handling kicking duties (48 points), and scrumhalf Sarah Strohecker, flyhalf Courtney Blair, center Jenna Moscarelli, and wing Isabel Calo adding five-pointers. The Terriers’ main threat lies in No. 8 Paige Stathopoulous (14 tries) and prop Abby Yotts (7 tries).

This year's DI fall playoffs is different, as two new competitions have diverted teams into either the varsity or DI Elite championship. These additional tournaments have diluted the field - hence, starting the fall playoffs at the quarterfinals instead of the Round of 16 - but it's also produced more opportunity for teams to play at the regional level. Previous to the varsity and DI Elite championships, the Northeast operated as a two-tier league. AIC, Army, and Norwich - all of which are now varsity - occupied Tier I and played each while mixing in Tier II games. UConn has competed at fall playoffs as the best Tier II team, but now these club teams will have the opportunity to play other schools operating under similar circumstances.