Written by RUGBYMag Staff    Monday, 11 November 2013 12:08    PDF Print Write e-mail
Two Points Decide MARC Women's Champs
Colleges - Women's College

This past weekend saw Kutztown University take on Shippensburg University for the women's DII college Mid-Atlantic Rugby Conference championship. All year it appeared as if the regular season was simply a build-up to this game. Both teams came into the final with perfect 5-0 regular-season records and convincing semifinal wins.

Best game of the season evolved between Shippensburg (blue) and Kutztown. (Jenny Julien photo)
The MARC final wasn't decided until the final minute, and Kutztown fell short by two points. (Photo courtesy of KU)

Shippensburg University kicked off to Kutztown University who in turn knocked the ball on. This would be the story of the first half, as Shippensburg continually put pressure on the Kutztown defense with outstanding results. A few minutes in, Shippensburg outside center Mary Butler took a skip pass from flyhalf Averie Brittin, created space for herself and touched the ball down for the opening try of the match. Kutztown has some talent at the outside center position as well, and a few minutes later Tabetha Super answered with a try of her own.

Shippensburg scored two more tries using a great combination of forwards and backs to produce quick ball and massive overloads. Not to be outdone Kutztown's forward pack worked the ball down field for another try leaving the scoreline at 17-10. Kutztown would have to wait until the second half before adding more points to the board, as Shippensburg’s backline dominated the remainder of the stanza. Exploiting gaps in the defense, Shippensburg scored two more tries to go into the break 29-10.

Kutztown had to respond immediately if they were to prevent a run-away game, and rookie hooker Paige Trock helped with a try. Shippensburg answered quickly with another five points to maintain the 19-point lead. That’s when Kutztown flanker Amber DeFabio and lock Faith Hughes wrestled control of the match, each punching in tries during the following 15 minutes and pulling to within a converted try of the lead. Shippensburg continued to challenge KU’s resolve, turned over a ruck and put on a forward clinic of their own, scoring another try for the 14-point margin.

Kutztown decided to rely on a simple pick-and-go format to better retain possession, and the strategy worked. With five minutes remaining, KU’s loosehead prop snuck through for a try. Mary Cate Matta converted, bringing the team to within seven.

From the subsequent kickoff, the Kutztown forwards systematically worked down field and with time trickling off the clock, Matta dotted down but the conversion fell short. With less than a minute in regulation and down two points, Kutztown mimicked the previous score’s build-up and worked all the way down to the five meter line. But Shippensburg’s defense didn’t bend this time around, and a turnover allowed for a kick to touch and end to the game, 43-41 Shippensburg.

"This was the match we had been preparing for,” Shippensburg coach Lauren Herbert said. “As anticipated, Kutztown has a dynamic backline and relentless pack. It was a battle from start to finish. I am incredibly proud of my girls and the heart they displayed throughout the match. We are preparing for the next round of playoffs and hope to see Kutztown again in Final Fours."

“It was truly an amazing game,” Kutztown coach Sean Cobb said. “Shippensburg gave us fits in the first half and took advantage of our mistakes in the second half. The girls gave everything they had and left it all on the field, and I couldn't be prouder of them. Close losses in big games are tough to deal with, but we will work through it and start preparations for the ACRA playoffs. I tip my cap to Shippensburg and wish them luck in the playoffs.”

The MARC finalists received automatic byes to ACRA’s Round of 16, partially because the conference championship conflicted with last weekend’s Round of 32. Shippensburg will travel to Denison this weekend and take on Notre Dame College, which defeated Grand Valley 45-0 Saturday, in the Round of 16, while Kutztown will head to Vassar College for Stonehill College, which topped Marist 39-24 in the first round of playoffs.

With the conference season now over, MARC has named its first and second all-conference teams, as well as honorable mentions. All of the conference coaches contributed to the selection of players.

MARC All-Conference Teams

1st Team Pos 2nd Team
Becky Hayter (East Stroudsburg) 1 Kate Ludwick (Kutztown)
Amy Jugan (Lock Haven) 2 Kahmia Moise (Lafayette)
Kristen Cartledge (York) 3 Danielle Menditto (Scranton)
Faith Hughes (Kutztown) 4 Serena Cox (Shippensburg)
Amy Walls (Delaware) 5 Keslie French (St Joseph's)
Jackie Pabon (College of NJ) 6 Haley Alexander (LaSalle)
Julia Delong (East Stroudsburg) 7 Erin Smith (Lock Haven)
Marissa Curti (Delaware) 8 Lauren Patterson (Drexel)
Sharyn Beodeker (Kutztown) 9 Emily Sharrow (Shippensburg)
Mary Cate Matta (Kutztown) 10 Gabrielle Petroncuri (York)
Nicole Fairman (Shippensburg) 11 Tabetha Super (Kutztown)
Mitzi Oliver (Delaware) 12 Kristen Jacobs (Drexel)
Alexa Reynolds (Lock Haven) 13 Sam Kilpatrick (East Stroudsburg)
Megan Yale (Shippensburg) 14 Alexa Runowski (St Joseph's)
Taylor Morgan (Shippensburg) 15 Ally Johnsonbaugh (College of NJ)

Honorable Mention

Aurora Polumbo (Drexel)

Katie Lank (Drexel)

Sam Kilpatrick (East Stroudsburg)

Amber DeFabio (Kutztown)

Victoria Peitzman (Kutztown)

Carly Hatch (Lafayette College)

Katelyn Marray (LaSalle)

Daquanda Epps (Lock Haven)

Mary Grace Serra (Shippensburg)

Jordan Brown (Shippensburg)

Averie Brittin (Shippensburg)

Hannah Dentino (St. Joseph's)

Nolan Saleh (St. Joseph's)

Katie Cardone (St. Joseph's)

Maggie Covert (St. Joseph's)

Amanda Liebenberg  (College of NJ)
Chante Vann (Delaware)

Melissa Pleasanton (Delaware)

Nicole Pettito (Scranton)

Kelly Taggart (Scranton)

Lexi Vanwart (York College)