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Pretenders Look to Unseat DSHA

Thursday May 14, 2009 in Women Youth

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(Championship hopefuls Sacramento Amazons, in blue, and Summit, in green, faced off earlier this year. Dobson Images)

May 13, 2009 - Who do you like in the National Girls U19 Championships?

As in the other age-grade championships, one team has dominated. Divine Savior Holy Angels of Milwaukee, Wisc. Have won five straight national titles (including the unofficial NIT 2004-2007). Their secret? Those girls are strong and work hard, they have had consistent and dedicated coaching, and their secret is … Irish dancing.

Dancing? Seriously. DSHA is a championship school for Irish dancing, and head coach John Klein loves having dancers on his team because they are nimble, work hard, have a high paion threshold, and superb breath control. (Of course they’re not perfect; Irish dancers don’t move their arms, so they have to be taught to wrap up in the tackle!)

DSHA come into the girls championships favorites once again.

“Can DSHA be beaten? Absolutely, any team can be beaten,” said Lakewood coach Andrew Bruwer, whose team fell to DSHA in the Midwest final. “Coach Chin runs a real classy program and his girls play with the world of confidence and so they should. It takes a lot to beat the confidence of a 5 time National Championship team, but the day will come when that confidence will be truly tested.”

“It will take a great team playing a great game,” said Summit coach Karl Barth, whose team gets DSHA in the first round. Tough draw for a team that deserves better than the 8th seed, but one they will have to deal with.

The key, said Barth, is that all the DSHA players have been there before. Bruwer said it’s the depth – their bench players can run on and they lose nothing.
In the opening round, Summit, led USA U20 player Jozy Gessner and national team alternates BrieAnna Barto and Lauren Danielson could well do it. The Colorado champions may have not played a game in anger since last fall, but they are superbly coached and can beat you in all phases, and kick very well.

Maryville look very strong this year, led by three players who made the national U20 team (considering that team is almost entirely college players, that’s quite a feat). Candace Barley remains one of the best young players in the country, and the LeGate twins Brooke and Erin were all part of the team that finished 5th last year.

Also coming back are the Sacramento Amazons. Very powerful up front and showcasing perhaps a more well-rounded game this year, the ‘Zons were third last year and ready to push to get to the final.

In the Zons’ bracket, Lakewood is once again looking to unseat their fellow Midwest rivals. They led DSHA last year in the national final.

Usually DSHA, as the top seed, can rest some players en route to the final (two 53-0 wins in the early rounds last year). This year they can’t because of Summit, and Lakewood might be able to take advantage.

“This real tough first game could soften DSHA up enough that should the two teams meet in the final again, we will be on equal footing and if that be the case, we can, and have, out-scrummed them and out-jumped them,” said Bruwer. “So, yeah, my money is on my girls.”

And our money?

DSHA v. Summit. The most high-level opening round game in girls nationals rugby since 2005. We will have to pick DSHA here, but Summit can beat them, and it won’t be a surprise if they do – Summit are that good.

Still, Summit played Sacramento and lost at the PCIT in April.

Maryville v. West Carroll. The best team to come out of the South in some time, if ever, is this experienced and tough Maryville side. Maryville wins.

Sacramento v. Fullerton. The Sacramento Amazons are really, really tough. They will out-muscle Fullerton.

Rutland v. Lakewood. Rutland is a very good team that isn’t afraid of the physical stuff, but it would be a big upset if Lakewood were to lose.

Consolation Semis
Summit (maybe) v. West Carroll. Too many weapons for Summit. The Colorado team wins.

Fullerton v. Rutland. Let’s be honest, we don’t know. We’re going with Rutland, but the teams haven’t provided enough of a frame of reference for us to judge them.

DSHA (maybe) v. Maryville. Oh this will be fun. It will be two very tough games in a row for DSHA. The Milwaukee girls over the girls from Tennessee. But it won’t be a cakewalk.

Lakewood v. Sacramento. Lakewood is that good. Won’t be 30-0 like last year, but the Ohio team should win.

7th/8th West Carroll over Rutland
5th/6th Summit clearly over Fullerton
3rd/4th Very close, but we’re picking Maryville over Sacramento
Final Here’s the thing. We think if Summit wins the opening round against DSHA, then they can run the table. If Anyone falters against Maryville, then we pick Lakewood to win. But here, with Lakewood v. DSHA again, we have to say Divine Savior Holy Angels.

But really right now there are five teams capable of winning it all, and if you love an upset, stay tuned.

(Final note, who is not there. Catholic Memorial lost to DSHA 5-0 in the playoffs and are very, very good. Kent, NIT finalists 2006-2008 lost a close game to Sacramento to be there. State College tied West Carroll but lost on tiebreakers.)

- Alex Goff © www.erugbynews.com

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