The first iteration of the women’s DI college rankings is conservative. All of the teams that advanced to the national championships last year are listed and only one team that didn’t attend cracked the top 16.
Had the rankings been published last week, Army would have held the #1 spot, as the reigning national champion should. But last Saturday, Penn State ground out a 14-5 win in West Point, and even though it was a friendly, it’s still a win.
The PSU game was the first of several matches that Army has scheduled in order to beef up its DI league season. Brown, Dartmouth and Yale (and potentially DII champion Radcliffe, which may have been promoted into NERFU’s DI) left NERFU’s DI for the Ivy League. The Cadets will have a relatively uncontested run to the NERFU title.
In other east coast news, Navy is the team to beat early on, having downed Brown 21-7 and Virginia 10-3 earlier in the season. We’ll be able to compare the relative strength of Navy, Brown and Army when Canadian collegiate champ St. Xavier Francis tours this weekend.
We’re also keeping an eye on North Carolina, which graduated 15 players and will be without Kimber Rozier and Katie Lorenz come matrix season. The Tar Heels are also waiting for starting scrumhalf Hannah Samad and star wing Holly Zoeller to heal up.
“On the upside, we're currently rostering almost 50 players every weekend,” UNC coach Johnathan Atkeison said. “We've got the best recruiting class we've had since I've been here, and they're really learning the game and our system quickly. The level of athleticism among the new players is really amazing, and I think that as the season goes one, we're going to be able to open the game plan up very quickly to take advantage of their speed and power.”
There should also be a nice little race between Dartmouth, Princeton and Radcliffe in the Ivy League. Only two of the aforementioned will have the opportunity to advance along with Brown to the Northeast Championship, and we’ve already seen Princeton make an early bid with a 26-14 win over Radcliffe.
The Midwest kicked off it season last weekend, and a thrilling game between Michigan and Notre Dame ensued. Michigan graduated the best team it had ever fielded last year, and they were certainly tested in their 24-20 win over last year’s DII finalist. Northern Iowa is looking as strong as usual, and has racked up 97 points while allowing 15 over two league games.
The only difference between the former Eastern Rockies region and the new Pacific Mountain conference is that Women’s Cougar Rugby has joined Colorado, Colorado State, New Mexico and Air Force. It’s a boon for WCR, which is no longer the lone DI team in a union, but also means the former ERRFU teams will experience some blowout scores against last year’s semifinalist.
Colorado has shown promise early on, defeating Colorado State 29-10 in league. Same thing happened last year, and CSU responded with a bigger point differential in the rematch. The teams will only play each other once during regular season, as opposed to home-and-away like years past.
The west coast will stay generally quiet, with the exception of the Stanford 10s and Scrum By the Sea tournaments. An interesting evolution has occurred in that California is pushing women’s collegiate 7s tournaments this fall, which will mimic future qualifiers for the national collegiate 7s championship.
“The fall season has always been about getting rookies on board, seeing what we’ve got between new players and veterans, and slowly putting 15s together,” Cal coach Ellen Owens said. “For the vets, it can feel repetitive; they’re not doing anything new. So they’re excited to do something different, and for those who enjoy 7s, they get to play the part of the game they really like.”
It’ll take some time to realize whether a 15s/7s hybrid season will help or hinder Cal’s performance, but the Golden Bears are right on the cusp of the top 25.
Stanford, UC Davis, UCSD, UCLA, Chico State – they’ll all be idle for a while, with several of the teams hosting their first practice yesterday. It’ll be difficult to move them around too much, but they’ll have a few common tournaments that will gauge their relative strength.
Women’s DI College Top 25 – October 5, 2011
1 Penn State (4-0). Defeated Army 14-5
2 Army (2-0) (2-1). Lost to Penn State 14-5
3 Women's Cougar Rugby (2-0). Defeated Utah Valley, Utah State
4 Navy (4-1). Defeated Brown 21-7, UVA 10-3
5 Virginia (8-1). Won Rucktoberfest, lost 10-3 to Navy
6 Stanford (n/a). idle
7 Brown (2-0) (2-1). Defeated Yale 85-0, lost to Navy 21-7
8 Michigan (1-0) (1-2). Defeated Notre Dame 24-20
9 UNC (1-1-1). don't know 10.1 outcome, 3 games
10 UC San Diego (n/a). idle
11 Colorado (1-0) (5-1-1). Defeated Colorado State 29-10
12 UCLA (n/a). idle
13 Colorado State (0-1). Lost to Colorado 29-10
14 Northern Iowa (2-0) (3-0). Defeated Iowa State and Illinois 97-15
15 New Mexico (2-0). Defeated NMSU and Texas Tech
16 Dartmouth (1-1) (3-1). Lost to Brown 41-12, defeated Columbia 59-7
17 UC Davis (n/a). idle
18 Texas A&M (0-1). lost 39-0 to austin; missing round robin on 9.9
19 West Chester (3-0). Defeated Maryland, Delaware & James Madison 180-7
20 Princeton (2-0). Beat Radcliffe 26-14 in Ivies
21 East Carolina (0-1). Lost to PSU 74-15
22 Chico State (n/a). idle
23 Radcliffe (1-1) (5-1). Lost to Princeton 26-14
24 Notre Dame (0-1) (2-2). Lost to Michigan 24-20
25 SUNY Buffalo (3-0). Defeated Syracuse 17-15