Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

West Coast Revels in Humboldt-Reno Rematch

irish rugby tours

West Coast Revels in Humboldt-Reno Rematch

A familiar scene: The back of Humboldt wing Lila Bell's jersey. (Photo: Coco Valdemoro)

The West Coast conference was essentially building toward a rematch of Humboldt vs. UN Reno. The duo met early in February, and that match turned out to be the only competitive match of the teams’ regular season. Humboldt won that game by two points, and that slim margin paid dividends during last weekend’s conference playoffs.

 

 

The semifinal weekend was actually a Final Three event, as Humboldt, the league leader, received a bye on Saturday. Meanwhile. Reno played host UC Santa Cruz to a 59-0 victory. So while Reno dominated the Banana Slugs, the players weren’t as fresh as they could have been. That said, Reno captain and president Danielle Schumacher made no excuses for her team.

“Our team has never played with so much passion than they did this game,” Schumacher said. “No matter the circumstances, we all worked together and made sure that every point which was scored had to be earned. It was clear that both teams left everything that they had on the field by the time the game was over.”

The first half was an all-out battle, with both sides struggling to impose its will on the other.

“Our forwards did an excellent job defending the breakdown and creating immediate turnover ball, which gave Reno a really hard time putting together any attack,” Humboldt coach Evi Ashenbrucker said of the first-half shutout. “Reno kicked downfield a lot when they were under pressure, and our fullback, Jordan Ludtke, did a great job breaking tackles and getting the ball back up to where we wanted it while maintaining possession.”

Reno’s defense put up a stout fight and allowed one try in the first 40 minutes. Humboldt wing Lila Bell accounted for the five points, but her day was only beginning. In the second half, Bell moved to outside center and scored another two tries, while also kicking a penalty.

“Overall, our backs' decision-making and field vision has improved which allowed the girls to get a little more creative in attack and become a lot harder to defend,” Ashenbrucker said.

Reno did get on the board in the second half, as No. 8 Olivia Fulton dotted down and Schumacher converted for seven points. But Reno also got into penalty trouble, banking two yellow cards.

“I was impressed by how much discipline they showed, particularly keeping their focus and playing their game in spite of being on the receiving end of multiple high tackles and other infractions,” Ashenbrucker complimented her players. “I saw a lot of people stepping up as leaders on the field, and I feel that everything seemed to click this game, as the girls are really trusting each other and believing in themselves.”

Humboldt repeated as West Coast champion with the 18-7 win and receives the automatic berth to the DII Round of 16. Although unconfirmed, Reno is in good position for an at-large bid and would make a good addition to the field.