Women’s rugby places third in Ivy Sevens Championship
After a long day of fast-paced, physical matches, the women’s rugby team — the Ivy League Sevens defending champions — placed third on the A- and B-side teams at the seventh annual Rickerson Cup and Women’s Ivy Rugby Sevens Championship held last Saturday at Princeton University’s Rickerson Field.
The B-team started off the day for the Big Green in a match against Brown University. The Bears scored three tries and a kick, winning their first game 17-0.
To begin its play, the women’s A-team took to the field to challenge Yale University and defeated the Bulldogs, 24-0. Forwards captain Yejadai Dunn ’16 and backs captain Kerry Conlin ’16 said both sides started the game off slow due to a period of adjustment to the warmer weather.
“We still came out strong against Yale and put up scores,” Dunn said. “But we talked about what we needed to do to execute our offense and defense, especially since the games are only 14 minutes long.”
Conlin agreed and said the A-team’s defense was not as strong during the first game, but the team improved from its second game on.
The A-side squad had a different set of players on the field than in past games because of the number of injuries among the team as it headed into the tournament.
“A fair amount of key players had gotten injured,” Dunn said. “We were a little in flux about the roster, but the subs were really effective when they came in.”
An hour later, the B-team challenged Cornell University and controlled nearly the entirety of the game, winning by a score of 26-0.
“The second side played hard and finished strong,” Allison Brouckman ’15 said. “They show so much promise, especially considering that they are going to be the team competing for the A-side in four years.”
After defeating the Bulldogs, the A-team faced Harvard University. The women built upon the momentum from their first match and defeated the Crimson, 24-14.
“The game against Harvard was a tougher match, but we organized ourselves better and were playing more aggressively at that point.” Conlin said.
The B-team rounded out the day’s regular pool play with a match against Princeton. Much of the contest showed a relatively even game between the teams, as neither could reach the high scores seen in previous matches. The Big Green allowed the Tigers to score only one try during the match, but the team was unable to score one of its own and ended the game with a 5-0 loss.
After claiming the top spot in its pool, the A-side was pitted against Brown, the defending Ivy League champion in 15s, for the semifinal round.
Despite the full-contact nature of the sport, the women were not accustomed to the aggressiveness of the opponent or the lack of calling by the referees. Dunn and Conlin said the team had to play through tackle assists and hands in the ruck as well as playing on the ground.
“It was a dog fight,” Dunn said. “We worked against a lot of elements and had to fight against a lot of tough contact.”
Conlin said the referee did not call many penalties on either side, but said that she is used to having their games policed more strongly.
Because of this, the Bears were able to score early in the match to bring the score to 14-0. Despite the early disadvantage, the Big Green’s defense adapted to Brown’s physicality and prevented another conversion for the remainder of the game. The adjustment in the team’s defense could not save the match, however, as the women failed to score a point, resulting in the Bears’ advancement into the championship game against Princeton.
“[Brown] never holds back, so we had to match that,” Conlin said. “By the second half, we really held them off and our defense was really strong, and it was good to see that even though we lost.”
After dropping the contest against the Bears, Dartmouth’s A-team challenged Harvard, the losing team from the semifinal match on the other side of the bracket, to determine who would take third place in the day’s tournament. The team fought against exhaustion and managed to defeat the Crimson again to win the third-place bowl final, 17-0.
“It was a solid match,” Conlin said. “We were still amped up from Brown, so we were ready to play a hard match and win.”
Last year, Dunn said, the Big Green bypassed Brown heading into the championship round and defeated Princeton for the 2014 title. In this year’s tournament, the team never faced Princeton, who went on to claim this year’s Ivy Sevens Championship title after beating the Bears, 22-15.
Brouckman said she was impressed by the amount of teamwork and dedication the team showed on the field despite being unable to hold on to last year’s first-place finish.
“Even though this was the last Ivy League tournament we’re in, it’s not the end of the season,” Brouckman said. “I’m looking forward to this coming weekend and what follows.”
The women will spend the week preparing to host a sevens tournament this saturday at the Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse The tournament will include Division I and II teams from the New England region such as Middlebury College, the University of New Hampshire, Northeastern University and Brown.