Quinnipiac defends national title, defeats Central Washington 46-24

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Andrew Badillo

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

All season the mantra for Quinnipiac women’s rugby has been ‘believe.’ As the final whistle blew in Quinnipiac’s 46-24 win over Central Washington in the NIRA National Championship Game head coach Becky Carlson broke down in tears clutching a gold t-shirt, the words on the back…believe.

 

becky
Becky Carlson clutching the believe shirt during Sunday’s National Championship Game.

“We’ve had every bit of adversity you could possibly have this year and it’s like it didn’t even phase them it was just awesome and it just feels really good I mean they’re just validating everything they’ve been doing,” Carlson said as tears of triumph welled up in her eyes.

Almost a month ago the Bobcats knocked off perennial rugby powerhouse Penn State by a similar score 41-22. After the team’s victory over Army on Friday Carlson said the win over the Nittany Lions was the biggest and most important moment of the season for the team. It only took her two days to change her mind.”

“I mean every single season that ends up like this has a defining moment and you have to pick what those defining moments are and we thought that defining moment was when we had to come back from AIC and then we beat Penn State and then it was like alright that’s our defining moment, but no this is it right here,” Carlson said.

The Bobcats came into the game as defending national champions, but they were viewed by many as the underdogs. The Wildcats defeated the Bobcats 19-12 earlier in the season and were 3-0 all-time versus the Bobcats.

Despite the odds not being in its favor Quinnipiac was determined to defend its crown. After the team’s semifinal victory over Army they said they wanted nothing more than to face Central Washington in the title game. This time, the Bobcats got their revenge.

“I mean this is like every other sports movie you’ve ever seen where during the regular season when ultimately it doesn’t count, you don’t get the win and then this is where it counts where you get the W,” Carlson said. “I think that they wanted Central Washington this is the way it was supposed to happen it was one hell of a final.”

Down 12-0 early in the first half Quinnipiac needed a spark. The Wildcats used a combination of size, speed and strength to pin the Bobcats deep in their own territory on offense and penetrate their defense. It wasn’t until Ilona Maher provided that spark, rather a sonic boom, as she got Quinnipiac on the board with a thunderous 40-yard scamper down the sideline for a try. Emily Roskopf followed with the aftermath, stunning Central Washington a few minutes later with a 60-yard try of her own.

“Lo (Ilona Maher), she absolutely is amazing to me, she is a monster the way she breaks through those lines and Emily (Roskopf) is just so quick and she’s always there for support, she’s like the silent assassin I call her,” Quinnipiac center Flora Poole said. “I can’t give enough credit to them they are amazing players and I am so proud and happy to have them by my side.”  

The trio of Roskopf, Poole, and Maher combined for all four Quinnipiac tries in the second half as it wore down Central Washington’s back line, a stark contrast from the regular season matchup.

“When we first played them we did those awesome line breaks, but what made us score more today was that we had that support we were there for the off loads. We kept the ball moving and that’s what separated the last time we played them to this game,” Poole said.

Quinnipiac wins its second consecutive national championship and finishes the season 11-1 after playing none of its games at home.