Written by the referee: Larry Freitas
Driving down Highway One on the morning of the 24th of February, I saw the snow-capped higher peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains in the distance. Yes, winter has returned to this area of California. I arrived at the CSUMB campus by 10:30 AM, and everything was set to go on this cool morning, a perfect day for rugby at 50F. There was a breeze blowing in off the ocean, and clouds off in the horizon heading toward land. I saw that both teams didn’t have a lot of players, and in fact at the kick off Santa Clara University had 13 ladies kitted out to Cal State Monterey Bay’s 14. Both teams have had some injuries, but even more critically haven’t been able to recruit enough players to have a good amount of substitutes on hand to replace those who get hurt, or otherwise miss matches because of other commitments, be they studies, work, or anything else.
CSUMB won the toss and elected to defend the north end, figuring to have the wind at their backs for the second half of the match. The ground was firm, as little rain fell on the Monterey Peninsula during the fronts that went through the area during the week.
The game got off to a fast start for Santa Clara, as the Bronco women scored a few tries early. From a scrum, some ten meters out Jessica Lew-Munoz, playing at 8, broke through a few attempted tackles and got the visiting side its first points for a 5-0 lead at 4 minutes of play. At 11 minutes Carley Fowler got the last pass from a ball that got passed through the hands of the backs and ran away from the cover for another try and a 10-0 lead. It seemed at this point in the game that Santa Clara had the superiority in the backs, as they were running onto the ball as opposed to Monterey, who’s flyhalf was not getting good ball, and therefore not able to distribute quality passes to her backs, who were getting knocked over by the Santa Clara defense time and time again. Otters Jannicke Stien and Isis Smith rarely got touches that amounted to any gained ground. In the meantime Rachel Schneider, Carley Fowler, and Courtney Davis were running rampant through gaps and scoring tries or setting up tries for Santa Clara. In the forwards, things were fairly even, whether line-outs or scrums, no one side dominating the other. Davis and prop Mariela Murillo each scored two tries apiece for Santa Clara to finish their scoring in the first half to give them 34 points, with Murillo connecting on two conversions, one for her own first try of the match, and for Davis’ second try. I am really impressed by Davis, who is on the smaller side and has speed and the ability to sidestep tacklers, and change direction in her running. The ball got swung right out to the backs for that second try, from a lineout near the 22 of CSUMB, and she took the pass at her outside center position and wrong-footed a defender to glide past the goal line to touch down at the pitch’s north end. She’s a freshman. CSUMB did score at the 23rd minute when flanker Aliana Criado scored a try that was unconverted. Halftime score: 34 for Santa Clara, 5 for CSUMB. CSUMB lost Isis Smith to a groin pull injury, taking out their fastest back playing at fullback.
The second half was a repeat of the first, with Santa Clara’s tries coming, in order, from Fowler at 46 minutes, for 7 points, followed by Schneider who basically returned the restart kick after the ball went through several hands, at 48 minutes. She scored another try at 55 minutes. Scrum-half Stephanie Haro scored a try at the 68th minute of play. By this time CSUMB had a few more injuries and were down to 10 on the field. I asked their captain if they’d be willing to finish the match if Santa Clara took out some of their players to even the sides, and the visitors agreed. Two more Santa Clara tries were scored, as Davis once again got the ball and had space ahead of her and no one able to catch her from behind. At 73 minutes Carley Fowler picked up a ball at the base of a ruck and scampered nearly half the field to the goal line under the posts at the south end. Near full-time Stephany Arriola scored a try for CSUMB from close range. Final score, Santa Clara 70, CSUMB 10. A rather clean game played. I didn’t have too many penalties to call overall. Some few offsides now and then on either team’s back line, and a hands in the ruck call once, and a Santa Clara player entering the side of a ruck on another occasion.
Looking back at the season that is now in its final few weeks, I recall how CSUMB, when it had all their players available, starters or substitutes, lost by just two points to UC Santa Cruz in mid-November. UC Santa Cruz pulled ahead of Santa Clara in the last twenty minutes of play in that game in January to win. I would have expected a close game today, using the evidence of those past two matches. I can only say that Santa Clara has been fortunate not to lose their best players, as CSUMB has lost three of their best players, two in the back line and their hooker, not able to play in this match. It made all the difference today.
CSUMB has one more game on the 10th of March to finish against USF. Santa Clara plays one more home match versus Sacramento State on the same day. Hopefully, by then both teams will have fifteen out on the pitch at kick off.
|12:00 pm||West Coast Collegiate Women's Division II||2017-2018||2/24/18|
|Santa Clara University||12||6||72|