Midwest Finds Champions Amidst Mud and Snow

The Midwest has crowned their champions across five divisions. Teams participating in the Midwest Championship weekend played in, cold wet, snowy conditions; but produced some fantastic contests. Those who left with the silverware have also taken a spot in the national playoffs with them.

Women's Division I:

The Minnesota Valkyries looked to protect their perfect season and book their spot in the National playoffs when they went up against Detroit Rugby, a team they had already beaten twice this year. Despite having beaten them twice, the Valkyries would have been wary of the threat Detroit posed early on, as between their first and second encounter Minnesota's margin of victory shrunk from 34 points to two. Detroit contrarily would have felt confident, especially considering they hadn't lost any other games this season.

It was an arm wrestle from start to finish, with the two teams being inseparable at the half; scores locked 5-5. In the second half not much changed both teams struggled to sustain any threating attacking play due to the muddy conditions. However, Detroit was able to hang around long enough and using the conditions in their favor  to cross the line and score the lone points of the second half. Detroit crowned champions of the Midwest Women's Division I for the 2018-19 season.

 

Men's Division II:

When the Cleveland Crusaders and Wisconsin Rugby went toe to toe this weekend, each team was putting an unbeaten record against Midwestern teams on the line. It was the Crusaders getting on the board first, with a penalty to flyhalf Nicholas Viviani. However, Wisconsin responded shortly after, with a try, to take a two-point lead. Scoring lay dormant for the rest of the half.

In the second half, it was Joseph Brown diving over to put the Crusaders in the lead once again. However, Wisconsin snatched the lead right back bringing it to 10-8. The Crusaders didn't hang their heads, and through Preston Lowden answered Wisconsin's challenge. They were able to sustain their lead and grow it further with tries in the 70th and 80th minute to garnish the score. The Cleveland Crusaders crowned champions, 23-10.

 

Women's Division II:

2017 National Champion, Milwaukee Scylla, rolled hot into the Midwest Championships, after launching a convincing 91-0 win over the Chicago Sirens in their semifinal. Their opponent was Buffalo, who made it in after avenging a regular season loss against the Pittsburgh Forge. In the early stages, it looked as if the Scylla were on their way to booking their spot back into the national circuit, when Abigail Williams crossed to create an early 5-point lead. However, two tries in five minutes to the women from Buffalo and a penalty gave them a solid 15-5 lead as the first half concluded. The second half was a scoreless affair for the first 25 minutes, until the Scylla scored another try; narrowing the margin to five. While they brought the score closer, they couldn't add to their tally. With a scoreless final quarter of an hour, Buffalo won the Women's Midwest Division II competition and the spot in the playoffs, 15-10.


Men's Division III:

A battle of the undefeateds unfolded over in the Men's Division III championship game, as the Bremer County Bucks matched up against the Grand Rapids Gazelles. With the less than ideal conditions it would be a forward orientated battle upfront, a style of play that may have suited the Bucks more than the Gazelles. However, it was the Gazelles, in the 4th minute, that got up on the board first via the trusty boot of Zebb Dewes-Taylor. The Bucks responded in the 16th with a try and the score now 5-3. It stayed there until the 40th minute, when Jake Sochanek crossed the line,and with Dewes-Taylor adding to give Grand Rapids the halftime lead, 10-5. The second half was uneventful on the scoreboard until the 69th minute when the Bucks crossed and drew level. The tie was broken only five minutes later when Dewes-Taylor's boot added 3 points and sent the Gazelles to the playoffs and the Bucks back to Iowa.

 

Men's Division IV:

The Indianapolis Impalas D4 squad capped off an impressive fall campaign handing the Findlay Scars a 23-12 loss. With no national championship for Men's Division IV, the Impalas D4 finished their season off on the highest point possible.


Midwest Premiership:

The Chicago Lions finished the regular season at 6-2 after beating Columbus Rugby and claiming a bonus point, 39-14. Metropolis Rugby concluded an undefeated campaign in the Western Division after they took down the Kansas City Blues 29-13. Palmer College finished at 5-3 after seeing off the St. Louis Bombers, 31-21. The Griffins finished an impressive season off at 6-2, as they took down the Detroit Tradesmen 46-24. Despite the impressive accomplishment, due to the Lions' bonus point win, the Griffins came second in their division by one competition point. the Premiership Champion will be determined on May 4th in a Championship game.