In the end, speed killed.
Bullied for the first 10 minutes by a bigger, bruising Oswego club, St. Bonaventure's women's rugby team used superior quickness and deft passing Sunday afternoon to sprint to a 38-26 victory and a berth in the New York State Rugby Conference Division III title game next weekend.
Down 7-0 early, SBU cut the lead to 7-5 on a try (touchdown) by senior Jessica Misiaszek, and then broke the game open in less than a minute. Freshman Laura Clesse scored on a 30-yard dash to make it 12-7 (with Misiaszek's conversion) and then, after four quick passes off the ensuing kickoff, Clesse scored again, sprinting 50 yards to up the lead to 19-7.
Sophomore Kayla Cronin weaved from midfield through four Oswego defenders to make it 26-7, before Cleese added her third try on the final play of the first half just minutes after Oswego had cut it to 26-12. Cronin capped the Bonaventure scoring in the second half, which was marred by a serious knee injury to an Oswego player that delayed the game for more than 40 minutes.
Misiaszek was good on four of her six conversion attempts.
"Oswego's early score put a lot of pressure on us," said junior Nichole Dylag, club president. "We knew then it wouldn't be easy and we started being more aggressive. ... The girls began to read the field better and use the ends, which were left wide open. With quick passes, we got it to the end of our wing and Laura’s speed could not be matched."
St. Bonaventure, the overall No. 1 seed in the conference, will host Plattsburgh, a 20-19 winner over St. John Fisher, this weekend; the day and time will be announced later in the week. The winner will advance to the first round of the national tournament in Northhampton, Mass., on Nov. 12.