The women’s DII college Round of 16 has been decided (read more), and a healthy amount of teams will be making their nationals debut. One of the most impressive sides we’ve encountered this year has been Quinnipiac (Conn.), which has held RugbyMag.com’s #3 spot in the DII rankings for some time now. The Bobcats played in their first national playoff game last Saturday (Round of 32) and delighted fans to a 44-0 rout of Temple. The victory booked their ticket to Annapolis, Md., site of the Southeast region's Round of 16.
Quinnipiac came into being in spring 2011 and played their first league season that fall. They finished 3-6-1 and fell to well established, successful teams like DI's Eastern Illinois, Rutgers and Vassar. One year later, the Bobcats not only defeated the aforementioned teams, but also won the Tri-State Conference with an undefeated record.
That rapid success can be tied to many factors, most importantly the leadership of coach Becky Carlson, a former USA Rugby employee who helped lead the NCAA Emerging Sports initiative, and the sport’s varsity status on campus. That combination has attracted quality athletes like Natalie Kosko (read more), who was the youngest player for the USA 7s Stars and Stripes at this year’s Las Vegas Invitational.
The victory against Temple helped put Quinnipiac’s strength into perspective. The Owls had defeated Mid-Atlantic conference opponents 241-7 and were 9-1 heading into last weekend’s match. Temple has competed at nationals before and won the whole thing in 2005.
But Saturday's game was a one-sided affair, as the home team dominated possession and overwhelmed Temple. The Bobcats scored 22 points in each half, sending Kosko, Krystin Orrico (who had two conversions), Raechel Stimson, Megan Hannemann, Devon Viera, Elena Orlando and Marie Pescatore over for tries. Disciplined defense kept the shutout intact, and Hannemann and Katie Wood led the charge with seven tackles apiece.
Quinnipiac’s reward is a trip to the national Round of 16, where they’ll face Lee University in Annapolis, Md. Should the newcomers win on April 13, then they’ll face the winner of Appalachian State v SUNY Albany in the quarterfinals the following day.