The Championship match was a rematch of a mid-season friendly that DSHA won handily 33-0. That was the largest margin of victory in the last 4 years of the rivalry between perennially top ten rated teams in the US. CMH was looking to avenge that defeat and DSHA was looking to reclaim the State Championship that CMH took from them last year.
DSHA started out with the wind and the majority of play was in the Crusaders half of the field. CMH played stout defense but a penalty 8 minutes in on the 25 meter line gave Freshman Jackie Jarosz a chance to kick for goal. Her kick was down the middle and gave DSHA a 3-0 lead. 15 minutes in Senior Scrumhalf Genevieve Ruesch made a break and fed junior Grace Hilbert for the game’s first try. The conversion was wide and DSHA had an 8-0 lead. CMH gained some momentum and was able move into DSHA territory when DSHA was called for a penalty at the break-down. CMH decided to go for the posts and Kate Chapman split the uprights to cut the deficit to 8-3. DSHA received the kick-off and spent the rest of the half in the CMH end before sophomore #8 Maggie Leffler dotted down. Jarosz’s conversion gave DSHA a 15-3 lead at halftime. Leffler stood out in this game with her hard running, whether off of the scrum, off a loose ball or filling into the back-line.
The second half opened and CMH had the advantage of the North wind. Junior Fly-half Allison Koenig kept DSHA pinned in their half of the field with strategic kicks and Senior USA HSAA #8 Erin Wright touched down for the try. Chapman’s conversion hit the post and bounced out to keep the score at 15-8. DSHA gained some momentum and had the ball in CMH’s half when CMH was whistled for an infraction at the breakdown at the 32 meter line. They decided to go for posts and Freshman Jarosz’s kick against a stiff breeze easily cleared the upright making the score 18-8. This kick would end up being the game winner.
CMH took the kick-off and worked their way into DSHA territory. Koenig found an opening in the DSHA backline to score from 30 meters out. The kick by Chapman was good to make the score 18-15 with 10 minutes to go in the match. CMH kicked off and play went back and forth, with DSHA controlling play in CMH’s side of the field. A poached ball at the breakdown saw CMH gain possession and then another long kick by Koenig pinned DSHA inside their 22 meter line. CMH threatened but the DSHA defense held until the final whistle blew and the Dashers celebrated their win. Overall this was a highly entertaining game of Rugby that either team could have won.
The Bruisers and Oak Creek have not played against each other in 3 years as they are in opposite conferences. However early in the season they did share a Coach bus and traveled to Davenport University in Grand Rapids where the Bruisers beat reigning IN & Midwest 4th place team Warsaw 20-15 and Oak Creek beat reigning IN 2nd place finisher and Midwest 5th place team Penn 29-20. The players are friends but once the whistle blew that was forgotten.
Both teams entered with some momentum as Oak Creek beat a talented Pulaski team 22-12 behind 4 tries by Atlantis veteran Megan Bird to secure 2nd place in the division and then scored the most points ever against DSHA in their 67-24 loss in the semifinals. The Bruisers had some bad luck with injuries in the middle of the season but were buoyed by the return of WI U19 Wing Abby Andler and WI U19 Fullback Areliz Rivera (Relish) when they played Catholic Memorial in the semifinals. Their confidence was back after they held CMH to a 22-0 score line ¾ of the way through their semifinal match before making 7 substitutions in the eventual 42-0 loss.
A majority of the first half was played between the 22’s when 10 minutes into the game Bruisers Junior #8 Bella Lubsey scored the first try with a 40 meter run. In the forwards it was a very physical game with a lot of rucks and counter rucks. The Oak Creek forwards are dramatically improved over previous seasons. Senior #6 Erin Coburn and Junior Prop Meta Martinez led them with penetrating runs and sound defense. The Oak Creek pack had an advantage in size and they used it. Most of the yardage gained by Oak Creek was around the edge of the breakdown. The Bruisers pack was smaller but quicker and it was an interesting match-up with Julie Lutzen and Nicky Lehto performing admirably for them. Both teams employed a pick and go offense in the forwards and the play was very physical.
The Bruisers back-line played stifling defense, preventing Oak Creek and especially Megan Bird from gaining any yardage out wide. On offense the Bruisers employed a lot of loops and switches to slow down the drift defense of Oak Creek and when they were able to get the ball out wide they had success. Wing Andler and Fullback Rivera had 3 or 4 long runs of 40 meters plus in the first half. Megan Bird showed why she is one of the best HS Fullbacks in the country by making try-saving tackles on every Bruiser long break.
The half ended with the score 5-0. And the 2nd half pretty much played out the same as the first half with Oak Creek gaining their yardage around the edge of the breakdown and the Bruisers having success out wide. 10 minutes into the 2nd half Oak Creek had a scrum at the Bruisers 22 meter line after a series of Bruiser penalties. Sophomore #8 Sam Wahner picked the ball up from a scrum and went weak side. One missed tackle and she touched down for the unconverted try to make the score 5-5. With 10 minutes to go in the game Inside Center Lauren Buchholz made one of the few line-breaks for the Oak Creek backfield. She was caught from behind by Bruiser wing Abby Andler and a high tackle was called. The Oak Creek forwards did a series of pick and goes to get down to the 5 meter line when the Bruisers were called for another infraction at the breakdown. Buchholz alertly did a quick tap and touched down before the Bruiser defense could react. Senior Flyhalf Tehya Herbert converted the try to make the score 12-5.
The intensity picked up in the last 10 minutes of the game with both teams going back and forth between the 22’s. The last play of the game saw Bruisers Fullback Areliz Rivera turn the corner at her own 22 meter line and get tackled out of bounds 50 meters later by Megan Bird at the Oak Creek 22 meter line. This was Bird's 5th try-saving tackle after a long line break by the Bruisers.
Even though this was a low scoring game the play from both teams was highly entertaining. For the first time all year Megan Bird was kept out of the try zone but her defense more than made up for that.
5th Place game: Pulaski 39 – DSHA JV 0
This was a rematch of the first league game of the season that Pulaski won 26-0. Their forwards dominated possession. DSHA was playing a lot of FR/SO as they pulled 4 or 5 players normally on the roster up to Varsity to serve as reserves.
7th Place Game: Knightmares 51 – Appleton 5
The Knightmares have bounced back from low numbers last year with an impressive recruiting year, CIPPing 23 players this season. Appleton has a young team and is led by WI U19 Wing Kaitlyn Schoeppel. For the Knightmares players of the game went to Freshman Fullback Bre Miller and Sophomore Forward Jade Green. WI U19 players Emily Becker and Zoe Bierce also had outstanding games for the Knightmares.
9th place game: Fond du Lac 29 – Vernon/Muskego 20
This game was contested as four 10 minute quarters of 10v10 rugby. After a big graduating class Fondy has struggled with numbers but has a strong core group of players with 5 or 6 girls playing WI U19 All-Star 15’s and 7’s. They are led by USA HSAA All American Prop Emma Conrad. Brittany Willet, Erica Powell, Savanna Roeder, Abby Blanc scored for the Sirens. Lexi Engelhart played well and had some nice line-breaks, draws, and excellent field awareness. Savanna Roeder played outstanding defense and had some nice runs out wide. Vernon/Muskego is still looking for a Coach and WI U19 All-stars Mercedes Champlin and Monique Foster had great games.