Written by the referee: Larry Freitas
I got down to the Cal State University Monterey Bay campus on the former Fort Ord a bit earlier than I needed to so as to check that the pitch was being lined correctly, and it was. Hats off to Lia Cuevas for getting it done right. The Otters were warming up as Santa Clara’s players and coaches trickled in from the long walk from the parking area. I was asked to hold off the kick off until 1:15 or so, as some were going to be a bit late. A half hour before the game I was informed that Santa Clara only had 13 players available for the kickoff; a few players are overseas studying, and three weren’t present because of injury, ROTC commitment, and family commitment. CSUMB had 17 players suited up, with a few out with an injury. The weather seemed perfect for rugby: 64F with sun, but as kickoff time approached, a fog bank that I had seen way off on the fringes of the Monterey Bay on the drive down from Aptos was approaching landfall.
The Bronco women were first to score just 3 minutes into the match, when tight head prop Mariela Murillo took a pass from a tap penalty, and breaking through some tackle attempts, scored a try that went unconverted. Santa Clara, though down two players, were keeping CSUMB on the back foot for a good portion of the first quarter. Another try would come at 18 minutes when lock Carly Fowler scored, giving Santa Clara an early 12-0 lead, with Murillo converting their second try, as the sun had disappeared with marine layer now covering the sky. CSUMB would counter at 23 minutes when hooker Emiliana Lacandazon picked up a loose ball near the halfway line and scampered to the goal line to touch down near the posts. Flyhalf Hanna Kim converted easily to close the gap to 12-7. It didn’t take long for Santa Clara to counter with another converted try as number 8 Rachel Schneider scored from a tap penalty when CSUMB was caught with hands in at a ruck some 10 meters out. CSUMB got another score when Kim went on a run from a set scrum near the Santa Clara 22, setting up fullback Sakai Golden’s score near the posts. Five minutes from half-time Santa Clara once again had a chance to score, when Michelle Coleman, at times playing flyhalf, at times playing scrum half, dove in for a try from a ruck near the goal line. At the half, Santa Clara led 24-14. Unfortunately, the try came at the cost of Schneider, who had to come off the pitch with an ankle injury. It seemed if anyone was getting hurt in this match it was a player wearing cardinal red and white hoops, not a navy blue shirt. Regarding penalties, both teams had their various infringements, and most came from lack of experience than anything else.
The second half started with CSUMB having a 15 to 12 player advantage. At 46 minutes CSUMB’s number 8 Janicke Stein scored from a set scrum at the halfway line toward the left side of the pitch, as Santa Clara didn’t have anyone covering the short side in the back division, cutting Santa Clara’s lead to 24-19. Two minutes later the Otters would score again when Santa Clara knocked on and the Otters recovered, and Amanda Mast scooped up a ball that was left on the ground by a tackled player just a meter outside Santa Clara’s goal next to the left-hand post, and dove over. With the conversion, CSUMB now had the lead, 26-24, and to add worry to the situation, Michelle Coleman, who should be on the division two select side, was having trouble with leg cramps and had to go off briefly. Santa Clara got the lead back when Coleman would score a try from a tap penalty at 62 minutes, managing to dodge and sidestep her way around the opposition in her run to the goal line. CSUMB had a chance to kick a penalty when a kick deep into Santa Clara’s half was covered by Michelle Coleman, who got back in time to cover fullback, and though she had time to make a clearance kick into touch, panicked and kicked the ball off to her right and the center of the pitch, where one of her own teammates caught the ball in an offside position. CSUMB took the kick choice some 35 meters out directly from the posts instead of the scrum inside the 22, and Kim missed the chance to add 3 points. I had the thought that a previous leg injury earlier in the match might have had something to do with the kick that sailed to the right, as she had briefly handed over kicking duties to number 8 Stein. CSUMB would make up for that lost opportunity on what I would say was the best try scored on the day, when Kim, taking the ball from her other half-back pairing, after a scrum at mid-field, saw the Bronco backline defense up and no one covering deep, and strategically kicked toward the right hand side of the field, with the ball landing just about at Santa Clara’s 22, where right-wing Cammie Smith scooped up the ball, and using a burst of her speed, scored in the corner. At 65 minutes CSUMB was back in the lead with 36 points to Santa Clara’s 34. Santa Clara wasn’t giving up the fight, and I would have to say that Maricela Murillo and Michelle Coleman’s leadership at this point in the game made all the difference in who was to win and lose. These two were leaving it all out on the pitch, with both of them taking the ball in the dying stages of the game to push their team toward the goal line, and both getting injured in the process but refusing to leave the pitch once recovered. At 77 minutes Santa Clara scored another unconverted try from a set scrum some 30 meters out from CSUMB’s goal, when the ball was quickly transferred by the backs out to the right wing Jessica Godinez, who beat the cover to score in the right-hand corner. The last minutes of the game were hard fought by both teams as Santa Clara made their tackles and CSUMB tried to get into Santa Clara’s half to set up a score, and it had started to drizzle and really cool off on top of it all. A penalty near full time gave Coleman a chance to quickly tap the ball and take off for the goal line, scoring near the left-hand corner. After the conversion attempt failed I blew the whistle for no side. Santa Clara had won the game 44-36.
|12:00 pm||West Coast Collegiate Women's Division II||2016-2017||11/5/16|
|Santa Clara University||44|