Rugby comes up short of second championship

Rugby comes up short of second championship

Mitchell Breuer, Editor-In-Chief

The Winona State University women’s rugby team came up just short of their second straight USA Rugby DII College Fall Championship, as they fell to Vassar College on Sunday, Dec. 2, after a final score of 13-50.

The Black Katts’ road to the championship match proved to be one of dominance, as the team played seven matches in-a-row, three of which were forfeits, en route to their 12th consecutive state championship.

The team then proceeded to the playoffs, where they began at home for a round of 32 matches against the Miami University, which concluded with 120-0 win for Winona State.

With yet another victory, the Black Katts earned a trip to Colombia, Missouri, where they were not only victorious after defeating the Colorado School of Mines 57-17, but also managed to punch their ticket to the Elite Four after pulling out a close 37-33 win over Colorado Mesa. All of which led them to this past weekend, where they traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, for their final two games of the year.

The team started their weekend with a statement win Saturday, Dec. 1, as they took on the University of Cincinnati. At half, the Black Katts were able to grab a 12-0 lead, one they would build on in the second, as the match would end with a score of 34-7. All of which set up a championship rematch one year in the making with Vassar, who the Black Katts defeated in 2017 to take home the title. During the game, juniors Summer Downs and Gabby Calametti and sophomore Abby Andler all got the teams tries, while sophomore Emily Becker got a conversion.

The first half of the championship match proved to be a close one with Vassar just edging out Winona State with a halftime score 13-17. However, the second half was all about the Brewers, as they would take full control scoring 33 unanswered points to claim their school’s first championship and revenge for the loss a season ago.

“The game Sunday was a challenge,” assistant coach, Roger Riley said. “We executed our game plan in the first half. Unfortunately, Vassar was too strong in their pick and go style of play, we couldn’t slow their attack.”

During the game, Andler was once again able to come with a try, but unfortunately it wouldn’t be enough.

The loss will serve as the final stat for the Black Katts in Division II competition, as the team announced plans to move up into the DI Midwest League starting in the fall of 2019.

“Next season, we need to continue our philosophy of performing the fundamentals very well and at pace,” Riley said. “We have already committed to playing in a higher-level conference in the fall, which will help us play stronger teams all season. Recruiting athletes is always a focus as well.”

As the team looks to grow, they will see the departures in their five seniors; Amy Scherer, Emily Krahn, Lizzy Streitz, An Tran and Jordyn Gardner.