The West Coast Conference is midway through its women’s DII college season, and it appears that Humboldt and UC Santa Cruz will be vying for the title. The teams play on March 9, and that will ultimately decide their post-season fate. However, both sides have nearly fallen victim to Nevada-Reno, which could have easily swapped places with either of the aforementioned.
UC Santa Cruz started its league season with a 12-3 win over Nevada side, before rebounding with a 43-12 victory over Fresno State and 36-5 win over Sacramento State. Humboldt bettered UCSC’s point margin against Fresno, winning 62-15, but then nearly dropped last weekend’s game to UNR.
UNR scored first and maintained a one-try lead at half (10-5), but Humboldt rallied with back-to-back five-pointers, converting one for the 17-10 lead. With about 10 minutes remaining, UNR had an opportunity to tie the game when they dotted down beneath the posts, but the easy conversion missed, and Humboldt held onto a 17-15 lead.
The penalties started to rack up on either side of the ball, which meant quick and often changes of possession. As the clock expired, all Humboldt had to do was win their scrum on their 15 meter and kick to touch. But UNR’s scrumhalf turned the ball over and nearly returned the pick for a score. Fortuitously, the halfback was dragged down, Humboldt stole possession and kicked to touch to win 17-15.
“UNR was more technically sound, but not as flashy,” Humboldt coach Haley French said. “Humboldt made some careless mistakes, but also had longer runs when they could put it together.
“Our team is very young,” French added. “We graduated five seasoned vets last year, which has left big shoes to fill. We do have exciting, new talent, and the 2013 team is really putting things together.”
Replacing stalwarts like loose forward Bean Cline, who was the DII Club Championship MVP for Pittsburgh last year, and lock Adriana Conrad-Forest has been difficult. And to boot, former coach Jon Mooney has relocated to Colorado for USA Rugby this year, while HSU alumnus French continues to grow into her role as coach.
Humboldt will have an easier match this weekend against Sacramento State (0-2), while the Slugs will likely face their hardest competition of the 2013 – University of San Francisco/BATS, which are ineligible for the post-season, and therefore, a friendly opponent. The outcome, however, will be a good gauge against Humboldt, which fell 24-15 to the Kathy Flores-led team a couple of weeks ago.
The West Coast Conference’s post-season has yet to be clarified. Originally, two rounds of conference playoffs were to be held, but that was when USA Rugby thought nine teams – and not the five that are eligible – were participating.
More information as it becomes available.