Written by the referee Larry Freitas
Fresno State visited the Cal State Monterey Bay campus for this late morning match. The kick-off was under milky skies and the temperature was in the upper 50’s, with just a touch of seasonal chill in the air. Fresno State received the kick off and fly-half Jenny Balestra gathered the pass from her scrum half at the first ruck and rambled deep into the Monterey Bay 22 before she was tackled, dishing off to winger Alexis Gonzales who would score the first try, with Balestra missing the conversion for a quick 5-0 lead at two minutes. Gonzales would score another try five minutes later, and Balestra added another one which she converted for a 17-0 lead at 18 minutes. Maybe it was that half the visitors had long sleeve undershirts on, but they were as hot as the red jerseys they wear, dominating possession, and when they did lose possession counter rucking at the breakdown to get the ball back! To make matters worse Otter Jannicke Stien, outside center, and one of the best players for the home team, left the game with a shoulder injury. Jaclyn Blankenship would score a fourth try for a 22-0 lead before the Otters started to get some ball themselves and get out of their own end with some back line play spearheaded by fly half Katy McGill. Finally, the home side would score late in the half when prop Kiari Young picked up a loose ball at the base of a ruck, deep in Fresno’s territory, and as she fended off would be tacklers, ramble to score under the posts, with Hanna Kim making the easy conversion for 7 points. Fresno State would score once more to finish the half with a 27-7 lead. Jenny Balestra was not greedy, feeding her backs countless times instead of taking off with the ball herself. They responded well by penetrating deep into the opposition half and following up to take passes before tackles could be made, and when a team mate was brought down to be on the spot to retain possession. Monterey’s back line did a credible job as a covering defense, but with having to play defense so often, they were getting worn down, and it didn’t help with one of their best open field tacklers on the touchline after the first ten minutes of play.
The second half would produce even more try scoring for Fresno, led by scrum-half Raquel Macias, who would dot down twice. Hooker Emi Lacandazon, who is all of 5’2”, scored two tries for Monterey, one in the corner near the flag, in which she dodged some tackles and stretched out to place the ball. She was the bright star for the home side, playing from the heart, hawking the ball when she could get to it, and seemingly always first to the tackle, and making quite a few herself in the process. The match would end 63-19 for Fresno State’s victory. Monterey, who had lost only by one point to UC Santa Cruz a few weeks earlier, tried their best but it just wasn’t enough to stop a well trained, talented, and very fit side. Other try scorers for Fresno were Vanessa Maravilla, Megan Walls, and Nicole Munoz.
|11:00 am||West Coast Collegiate Women's Division II||2017-2018||12/2/17|