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Whitewater, L-B to WIIL Final

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Whitewater, L-B to WIIL Final

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Lindenwood-Belleville will face off for the WILL Conference Championship Sunday after both teams won their semifinal games in this highly-competitive men’s DII college league.

Lindenwood-Belleville, ranked #10 by Goff Rugby Report, defeated #13 Northern Michigan 40-11 to make the final. It was a very tight tame early on, with the two teams trading penalty kicks, leaving the Luynx up 9-6 over the Moosemen. But three quick tries by Lindenwood-Belleville opened up the game at 28-6. Reece Smith, Juvon Elliott, Kristian Poletti, Jacob Gilliam, and Khalil Hattley all scored tries, while Poletti notched some crucial kicks at goal early. The Lynx got into heavy penalty trouble early, but eventually, once they got used to playing in the cold weather, opened it. NMU didn't score a try until the game was almost over.

"We are good at figuring out when not to counter-ruck and getting in the defensive line, but we're not staying onside," said Lynx Head Coach Pat Clifton. "Those penalties are on us. We had very little possession in the first half, but once we got some possession we played some decent rugby."

Meanwhile, #2-ranked Whitewater defeated #12 Northern Iowa 46-17.

In windy conditions, the Warhawks were unable to play their usual wide-open game, and kept it more in the forwards.

“We tried to control the ball more and we did a good job with that,” said club president Eric Pachowitz. “It wasn’t the stele of play we really like to play, but we executed it pretty well.”

Wing Alec Treuthardt scored two tries and set up two more, while freshman Riley Peckham stepped in to fill a gap in the forwards and put in a massive game.

“We’re pleased with the game, sore but happy,” said Pachowitz. “But we know Lindenwood-Belleville will be tough. They have a lot of young talent and they know how to play together. It’s going to be a good game.”

The 3rd/4th game is a key one, as well, as the winner on Sunday will take one of the three WIIL seeds to the national playoffs.

By comparing results from this season, it looks as if Whitewater will take the final - they beat UNI by 29 while L-B beat UNI by two - and Northern Iowa, who did much better than Northern Michigan against Whitewater (46-17 as opposed to 75-0) might be expected to take 3rd.