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DII Big Four Around Corner

Tuesday Apr 28, 2009 in Amateur Competitions Division II Colleges

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(Georgetown from earlier this season against Virginia. Marshall Sports Media photo.)

April 28, 2009 – The top four DII college teams meet in Stanford this weekend, and it’s a big event for a number of reasons:

1. For the first time DII teams will have their semis as well as finals played on this Big Four weekend. It makes for more fans of more teams.

2. With the lights installed at Steuber Stadium, the games can go later and will, making for a bigger attendance at all the games.

For the DII teams, it’s not as if there’s a huge local following, so the teams will have to turn heads by their play.

In one semi, the matchup will be a repeat of the Midwest final, when Miami University beat Wisconsin 24-0. Wisconsin has improved since then and showed the dividends of some tough pre-playoff games in their Round of 16 weekend. However, Miami was almost untouchable, outscoring opponents 86-17.

In the other semi, you have the team that’s seen it all before, Middlebury, and upstarts Georgetown, ranked #19 before they upended #1 Cal Maritime in the quarterfinals.

“We’re always looking for the gap, always looking for the space, if there’s a man in space we hit him, doesn’t matter who he is,” said backs captain Trey Stewart. “We’re preparing for Georgetown. We know what to expect. We’ve seen a couple of weaknesses of theirs and I’m sure they know ours. So we’ll get there and be ready to play.”

As for those underappreciated underdogs Georgetown, well they’re pretty happy to sneak up on everyone.

“The team was thrilled with moving on to the Final Four,” said Georgetown captain Philip Cooney. “We played two very tough opponents in Florida in Maine and Cal Maritime Academy. The key for our success this season is our experience and leadership. We have great coaching and preparation, but most of all we know we can play with anybody.”

It’s an experience-heavy squad, with 13 of the starting XV juniors or seniors, most of whom have been playing together for three years.

As for their big upset of Cal Maritime, “we started out slowly, falling behind 10-0 in the first fifteen minutes. Standing under the posts, we said to each other that we belong here. We had seen the worst of them and knew we were still in it. Ten minutes later it was 14-10 Georgetown. Strong defense, discipline and great kicking saw us through.”

Led by seniors Dan Castrigano, Joe Kemper, James Grant, Sean McNamara, John Fisher-Thompson, and Andrew Benson, all four-year 1st-side players, Georgetown is perhaps still the outsider. But Cooney said they won’t be showing up saying they’re “just happy to be here.”

“We want to win and know we can,” he said.

Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com

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