Winona was just a little bit sharper, a little bit more aggressive than Final Four opponent Shippensburg during today’s Women’s DII College National Championship. Today was the farthest the Black Katts into the national championship, and now tomorrow will be as they prepare for Norwich in the final.
Winona got the scoring rolling 10 minutes after camping out on Shippensburg’s line for a few minutes. From a scrum, No. 8 Chelsea Filipovich broke weak, hit scrumhalf Georgia Porter before letting wing Amy Gadient give the corner a go. She had the pace and dotted down in the corner for the 5-0.
About 15 minutes later, Winona made a series of penalties translate into points. Near Shippensburg’s 22 meter, Winona flyhalf Ashley Nelson stepped through the line and incurred another penalty. She quick-tapped through the mark and dove over the line. Fullback Kaleigh Curran slotted the conversion for the 12-0 lead.
But Shippensburg showed some spark just before the break. The Pennsylvania team is a big fan of the kick and chase, and up until the final minutes of the half, Winona had done a decent job of fielding the kicks. Instead of running up on one such kick, Curran let the ball bounce and it ricocheted over her head. Shippensburg wing Nicole Fairman, who did an excellent job reigning in Winona’s speedy wings, was there for the clobbering tackle. Flyhalf Averie Brittin was there for support, scooped up the ball and scored, 12-5.
But that spark of momentum wasn’t maintained into the second half as Winona wasted no time extending the point differential. At minute 49, Winona strung together a beautiful series of hands that saw the ball work touchline to touchline near Shippensburg’s 22 meter. Fends, loops, inserters at pace – it all culminated in Nadia Nassif’s try, 17-5.
Winona had better running lines than Shippensburg and also ran more plays to keep the defense guessing. The Black Katt forwards did a better job of cleaning the rucks with gusto and maintaining possession.
Nelson added her second try of the day, while Hillary Zimmer slotted the conversion for the 24-5 lead. Shippensburg had a little fire left and with five minutes to go, Lucienne Renna dotted down while Molly Doyle hit the two-pointer, 24-12.
Winona will take on Norwich, which defeated Washington State 28-15 in their semifinal, in tomorrow’s championship.
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