BYU's Women Cougar Rugby defeated Chico State 39-10 during yesterday's DI college Pacific Coast playin final. The teams advanced to the final after wins against Oregon (62-5 to CSU) and California (67-21).
"We really came out firing in the first 20 minutes of the game against Chico," BYU coach Tom Waqa said. "As a coach, you want them to do that consistently and this is encouraging. We scored a try from flyhalf Kara Remington in the first 30 seconds of the 1st half."
Remington's try set a nice tone for the home team, and it was an improvement over BYU's game against California, who were able to score more often than Waqa would have liked.
"We played much better than yesterday," Waqa referenced the Cal game. "We controlled the ball, and our defense improved alot compared to the Cal game. We still have room for improvement, and will be working on maintaining composure for a full 80 minutes. There were times when we lost our concentration and made mistakes, which happens when good teams pressure you. But those technical mistakes can be fixed."
Chico's forwards posed the biggest problem for BYU, and multiple series of punches in the second half accounted for one of CSU's tries. But Waqa was pleased overall with the team's defense, which stood strong in the red zone, but needs some shoring up around the fringes.
"One of the highlights of the game against Chico was when prop Erin Treasure outran everyone 50 meters to score in the second half," Waqa said. "In my opinion, that’s gotta be a back-breaker. The big names did the usual, but I’ll give this to our supporting cast. They really stepped it up."
Wing Chanel Arts led the team with three tries and was complimented by centers Kristi Jackson and Star Bollinger. In the forwards, hooker Cajin Christianson and flanker Ela Wolfgramm put in outstanding performances.
Waqa started his top XV in both matches, and exited the weekend with no serious injuries. "At this stage, you have to plan for two-game weekends," Waqa said. "We've been cautious about our key players, but at the same time, they need to get experience in these pressure games. We're not taking anyone lightly going forward; it's only going to get tougher from here, and all the other teams will be ready for us."
2011 marks the first year that national playoffs have adopted a Friday/Saturday schedule to accommodate BYU's playing restrictions on Sunday. The opportunity has invigorated the team. "Morale is high," Waqa said. "We know that the schedule helps us, and the girls have made lots of sacrifices to be ready for the next stage. From a coaching perspective, I can see it in practice and workouts, in their faces. They're determined to go farther than they've ever been."
BYU and Chico advance to the Pacific Coast semifinals in two weeks time. BYU will face UC Davis, and Chico will see Stanford.