The Washington State women return to the Pacific Coast DII College championship after a monstrous 84-5 semifinal victory over UC Santa Cruz. Winning by such a large margin has both its pros and cons – on the one hand, WSU was able to sub out some key players for tomorrow’s final; on the other hand, Washington State’s defense wasn’t tested and will have no time for adjustment against a potent Humboldt.
|Washington State inside center Megan Bonny on the move.|
But at the end of the day, WSU is returning to nationals, so while tomorrow’s championship is important, the result isn’t as crucial. If WSU wins, then it’ll play So Cal champion Cal State University – Northridge; if the team loses, then it’ll play West champion Wyoming in the first round.
Washington State dominated every aspect of the field, save the lineouts. UCSC fielded a four-man lineout that produced an impressive rate of success, but it was the only area of play where UCSC was competitive.
“Our scrum was great, and hooker Noehly Tzintzun did a fantastic job of stealing a lot of UCSC’s put-ins,” WSU president Amber Sadoski said. “UCSC’s No. 8, scrumhalf and flyhalf worked well together and challenged us, but we were able to get the ball wide and around the line with little difficulty."
Washington State kept the ball moving and reset its backline quickly off breakdowns. The pace was too much for UC Santa Cruz and allowed a bevy of try scorers to cross the line. Captain Mileka Gragor lead all point scorers with three tries, while Megan Bonny, Shelby Mastroianni and Anne Peterson added a brace of tries. Alexis Bonny, Lakeshi Farmer and Hilary Johnson also added tries, while Peterson and Maddie McCloy split up the kicking duties.
Alexis Bonny was back at flyhalf. The playmaker was coming off a summer injury and surgery, and although she’s been with the team all semester, today’s semifinal was her first game back at halfback. Sister Megan had been playing flyhalf and moved out to inside center, and the duo was joined by little sister Savannah, who plays No. 8, this year. The youngest Bonny did an excellent job today, and her defensive prowess supported the hard work of Gragor, whose crushing tackles highlighted an otherwise untaxed defense.
“We watched Humboldt a little bit,” Sadoski said of WSU’s opponent’s semifinal. “I was really impressed. They’re a lot different than last year, and we’ll need to focus on our defense tomorrow. Today, tackles weren’t as crucial, and our defensive line wasn’t fully utilized. We’ll need quick tackles to prevent them from producing the quick ball they like to play.”
WSU is heading to nationals, but Sadoski insisted that certainty isn’t affecting the outlook on the final.
“We’re extremely excited for tomorrow,” Sadoski said. “Humboldt was really fun to play last year. Even though we don’t have that weight of anxiety over nationals, it doesn’t change your mentality, and we’re going to work really hard tomorrow.”
An excellent final is on the horizon, so stay tuned for tomorrow’s results.