Four remain in Women's Division II Fall Championship hunt

BOULDER, Colo. - Four championship-caliber rugby programs advanced from the past weekend's regional rounds of the 2015 USA Rugby Women's Division II College Fall Championship to reach the Semifinal stage, set for Furman University in Greenville, S.C., Dec. 5-6.

Davenport secured its much-anticipated place in the DII Fall Championship Semifinals against Bloomsburg with a clean-sheet sweep of the competition at Founders Field in Pittsburgh, while Winona State came away from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with a 'Final Four' berth against weekend-host Vassar.

Vassar College Farm hosted both the Rounds of 16 and Quarterfinals for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions over the weekend and was able to provide the home support the Brewers needed. Following a blowout, 37-0, defeat of Coast Guard Saturday and Bowdoin's subsequent, 43-24, win against Kutztown, the home crowd had reason to stick around for the second day of competition.

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The Polar Bears opened the scoring via full back Addison Carvajal and held a 5-0 lead until Brewers prop Darienne Jones leveled the match in the 22nd minute. The front-rower doubled her tally five minutes from the first-half whistle to give Vassar a 10-5 lead at the break. Despite not taking advantage of a yellow card to Bowdoin 10 minutes into the second frame, Vassar inside center Cierra Thomas scored the match-winning try in the 66th minute, with Polar Bear flanker Paige Pfannenstiel adding an 80th-minute try for the 15-10 final score.

In the Mid-Atlantic Regional bracket, Bloomsburg had little trouble in an 80-5 defeat of Rutgers in the Round of 16, while Ithaca escaped an overtime encounter with Saint Michael's after the Purple Knights erased a 43-24 deficit in 30 minutes. Ithaca limped into the Quarterfinal against Bloomsburg after playing an extra 20 minutes of championship rugby and left Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with heads high from the 74-17 defeat to the Huskies.

Winona State had already beaten one playoff opponent by more than 100 points before traveling to Colorado, and scored 124 points in two days to reach the Fall Championship Semifinals. Colorado Mesa's bye last weekend was not enough to stop the Warriors, and Montana State could not replicate its Saturday, 98-17, defeat of Minnesota-Mankato in the Quarterfinal, falling, 73-12.

The Panthers of Davenport put the rest of the Fall Championship field on notice with 86-0 and 81-0 wins against Eastern Kentucky and Cincinnati, respectively, over the weekend in Pittsburgh. All-Americans Ashlee Byrge and Danielle Ordway - also Davenport's captain - combined for 14 tries in the two matches from the fly half and outside center positions, respectively.

The Dec. 5-6 DII Fall Championships will be held at Furman University alongside the Men's Division II National Championship and Women's DI Fall Championship Final. All matches throughout the weekend will be streamed live on USA Rugby TV.