It has finally come down to this. Of all the women’s college teams that compete nationwide throughout the year for their chance at immortality, it’s down to the final four. One game has huge implications as it matches up two programs with a lot of confidence and momentum; Washington State and Norwich.
The Cadets have been on a mission since the beginning and the result has been making games look easy. Having glided through the Northeast region and taking the #1 seed into the playoffs, no team has been able to stop Norwich.
Coming into the tournament with momentum off their 53-20 win over Portland, Norwich fought off third seed Stony Brook 20-0 to advance to Princeton, N.J. There, they took out Vassar 38-5 to punch yet ticket to the finals in Palo Alto, Calif. Last weekend, they demolished Dartmouth 117-0 in a tuneup game.
Now, they will face a very experienced and very polished Washington State (WSU) Cougar squad led by Megan and Alexis Bonny. The Cougars, themselves, are on a mission to reclaim the championship they won two years ago and have been looking dominate thus far.
WSU (12-0) won the Pacific Coast Region by a large margin, outscoring opponents Santa Cruz and Humboldt State 111-5. At nationals, it was much the same: blowing out Cal-State Northridge 103-0 and beating the Wyoming Cowboys 34-7 to stay in Palo Alto where they belong.
Come this Friday, everything will be put on the line once again with a chance to play for the National Championship. For Norwich, it’s going to be about fluidity and taking whatever their opponent presents to them.
“One game we may be crashing the fringes, moving the ball out wide or going to our kick and chase game,” Norwich coach Austin Hall said. “We’re very fluid in our game plan. One thing is for sure, though, our defense and tackling must be solid with every opportunity.”
For the Cougars, the success has come from having balance on their squad and being able to utilize their weapons.
“Key for us has been our dynamic style of play,” WSU head coach Leah Hammond said. “We have a lot of cohesiveness in this squad. We know Norwich is going to be a physical team that is going to try to poach the ball, so being in and around the breakdowns, getting a clean ball to our scrum half and attacking from different angles will be huge.”
The winner will take on the winner of Shippensburg and Winona State this Friday May 11 at Stanford’s Steuber Field in Palo Alto, Calf.