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Midwest, NRU Race into U23 Final

Friday Jun 12, 2009 in Women All-Stars

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(Samantha Manto scores three for Midwest.)

Pittsburgh, Pa. – The Midwest and Northeast will face off for the USA Rugby women’s U23 National All-Star Championships Sunday after both teams won convincingly Friday at Founder’s Field in Pittsburgh.

The Northeast pushed aside the Mid-Atlantic with a solid effort, especially in the forwards. MARFU ran into penalty trouble early on and give up 15 early points on penalty kicks. Set on their heels the Sharks never recovered and the Northeast rolled 42-12.

In the last match of the day, the Midwest, perennially one of the strongest teams in this competition, ran by the Pacific Coast 39-15. The star of the day may well have been Samantha Manto. The all-time leading try-scorer in Eastern Illinois University history, Manto had let it be known that since her rugby career at EIU is over and the EIU coaching staff can’t prevent her from trying out for select sides anymore, she wanted to try for higher honors.

She made the Midwest U23 side and in her first match scored three first-half tries.

“This was Sam’s coming out party I guess,” said Midwest coach Steve Murra. “We definitely wanted to use her attacking ability, but at the same time we have some really good overall speed and depth in our backs and we were able to sub in, and several players did really well.”

Especially flyhalf Kayla Soliday, who ran the offense superbly at the pivot.

“She made sure everyone stuck to the pattern,” said Murra.

In the forwards Kassie Drey led by example and claimed two tries of her own, while Joanna Kitlinski was also effective coming off the bench.

“We’re pleased with the effort,” said Murra. “And we’re glad we were able to plan out who we would sub out and who we could bring in at halftime so that helps us for Sunday. Northeast looked good; it will be a great match.”

- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com

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