Women’s rugby ties Vassar, looks ahead to Nationals

In an often frustrating battle, the Women’s Rugby team was able to hold their own this weekend against a very unsportsmanlike Vassar College club and what Coach Gina Coleman ’90 dubbed “the worst officiating I have seen in my three years of coaching this club.” The 17-17 final score was not reflective of the respective abilities of the two teams.

Kamille Richards ’00 gained possession after the opening kickoff, dashing upfield and setting the ball; the resulting maul gave Vassar the put-in for the ensuing scrumdown. Junior captain Jessica Coffin ’00, returning from a season-ending injury last fall, did so with authority, stealing the opposing hook and enabling the WW to win the scrumdown. Unfortunately, the opposition’s off-sides went unchecked and the White Dawgs were unable to get their line flowing smoothly; Arlene Spooner ’99 saved the day with a timely kick that sent the White Dawgs down to Vassar’s 30-yard line. Erin Dempsey ’01 spoiled the Vassar lineout and quick passing down the Williams line set up a beautiful breakaway by Spooner into the try zone for the first strike.

Vassar soon retaliated, however, tearing down into the Williams red zone. They then benefited from the referee’s calling of a penalty against Williams, setting up a ruck and then breaking through the Williams defense to score to tie.

Following this Vassar score came a long stretch of scrummage back and forth. Flanker Christina Chan ’99 recorded several strong tackles against the Vassar pack while scrumhalf Beth Friedman ’01 (despite official adversity) also laid some hapless Vassar players to the ground. A blocked kick deep in Williams territory set up a Vassar lineout at the 10; despite valiant efforts by the White scrum to get under the ball, the opposition once again penetrated the try zone. The ensuing conversion attempt failed, leaving the score 10-5 in favor of Vassar.

Vassar fielded the ensuing kickoff and was immediately felled by the relentless Chan. Their kick downfield set up a maul at the Williams 40, which the White Dawgs won with determination. The ball was sent down the line to Richards, who cut and dodged her way through the opposition in a 40-yard sprint into the try zone. Vassar was impressed. Williams was exuberant. Spooner added 2 points with a textbook conversion, leaving the score 12-10, Williams.

Right before the half, after a long run by Maureen Brudzinski ’99, Dempsey once again spoiled a Vassar lineout, setting up Richards for her second visit to the try zone. At the half, the score was 17-10, Williams.

The second half was marked by intense tackling by Laura Moberg ’99 and Emily Eakin ’99, as well as superior kicking by Spooner. There was much mauling up and down the pitch, punctuated by several penalties called against Williams, a few of which were warranted. Inside the Williams red zone, the Vassar pack drove down to the 5 where they were held up by the Williams scrum. However, with a weak-side run, they were able to break into the try zone and tied the score at 17 with a successful conversion.

The remainder of the game was a back-and-forth event with no further score. Competition and emotion ran high between the two teams, culminating with the final whistle being blown just as Williams gained possession at the opposition’s 5 meter line.

The Williams B-Side triumphed in the late match against RPI, also held at Vassar. The line was replete with consistent, hard tackling by Clare Newman ’02, Kaitlin Rahl ’02, and Carolyn Adams ’02, coupled by superior kicking and breakaway runs by Julia Cianfarini ’01. Rookie Virginia Despard ’02 was described as a “rucking machine,” driving down the RPI opposition and powering the Williams scrum. In a successful switch from line to scrum, Natalie Marchant ’01 exhibited brilliant ability at 8-man, stealing RPI lineouts and breaking through their defense with uncanny frequency. Outstanding scrum play by Moira Shanahan ’01 and Lizzie Jacobs ’01 prevented RPI from breaking into the Williams try zone; Cianfarini’s textbook kicks and tackles propelled the Williams team down the pitch. There was no score at the close of the first half.

Early in the second half, Anju Lunia ’01 made a resounding tackle to set up a ruck won by the Williams scrum. This ruck led to an incredible run by Marchant, assisted by Spooner, all the way down from the Williams 40 to the opposing try zone for the score. This put the scoreboard at 5-0, Williams, where it would remain for the remainder of the game.

The rest of the half was dominated by Williams, with aggressive play by Amy Balas ’01 and Shanahan. Marchant, intercepting passes and tackling with authority. Sara Hausner-Levine ’02 and Emily Earle ’01 also recorded some devastating blows against the opposition and RPI was quite bruised and battered as Shanahan leveled their scrumhalf to close the match.

The Women’s rugby team will be playing Middlebury at home next Saturday, followed by a home match against Amherst on April 24 and Division II Nationals in Fredericksburg, Virginia on May 1-2.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *