Winona State University’s women’s rugby team ended their regular season undefeated, even with a minor schedule change happening a few days before their last game.
The Black Katts were supposed to play Iowa State University at home this past weekend on Oct. 26, but Iowa had to forfeit due to not having enough players.
In a quick turn around the Black Katts were able to set up a match against Northern Iowa/Iowa Phoenix, two combined teams, in Decorah, Iowa and, managed to win 62-22 ending their regular season undefeated.
The Black Katts will start the path into D-II Nationals this upcoming weekend on Nov. 2, where they will play the winner of the D-II final four qualifier to see who gets first and second seed for our conference in the final 32-team bracket. The first seed winner gets home field advantage, where second seed must travel away.
“We’re hoping to host the round of 32 here,” assistant coach Roger Riley said. “Round of 32 would start on November 16. And we would hope to host, it’s always nice having that home field advantage.”
According to Emily Becker, a senior at Winona State and veteran rugby player, the final goal is always to make it to the Final Four.
“It’s been different in past years because we’ve only played a few games before we went into nationals due to teams forfeiting against us, but this year we played many strong D-I teams and I feel like we are much better prepared going into the D-II playoffs,” Becker said.
The Black Katts will be playing in the D-II National playoffs despite their recent move to being a D-I team as an agreement with the USA Rugby Association and the state of Minnesota Rugby Association.
“I was trying to load up, so that I went to the D-I league, I said that I’ve got permission from USA Rugby and I’ve got permission from Minnesota, everyone’s saying yeah, what do you guys think?” Riley said. “And they voted yes. There was a new conference commissioner as well, which made a lot of difference.”
Becker agreed with Riley’s statement, adding on that it was to help improve their own team.
“The D-I was really just so we could get some games and competition in,” Becker said.
After playing in a round of 32 on Nov. 16, the round of 16 would start later on Nov. 16 and the round of eight taking place on Nov. 17. The final four would be taking place after Thanksgiving on the weekend of Dec. 7.
The Black Katts now head into Nationals undefeated, with high hopes of doing well and making it to the Final Four in December.