Women’s rugby beats Harvard 20-15

by Matt Yuen | 10/18/15 6:50pm

In its fifth game of the season, Dartmouth’s women’s rugby team (4-1, 4-0 Ivy) remained undefeated in the Ivy League with its victory over Harvard University (3-2, 2-2 Ivy) at Brophy Field.

“I am really happy about being 4-0 in the Ivy League,” head coach Katie Dowty said. “Always more to improve, but I’m definitely happy about how things are starting to be put together.”

Dartmouth sprinted out of the gates in the first half, putting 10 points on the board before Harvard showed signs of life. Morgan McGonagle ’18 scored the first points of the game by converting a try 15 minutes in. Seven minutes later, Yejadai Dunn ’16 doubled up the Big Green’s lead with a successful try of her own. Down 10-0, the Crimson responded with a try just over two minutes before the end of the first half to cut Dartmouth’s lead to five.

The Big Green began the second half with another pair of tries. Alex Stendahl ’19 caught fire, scoring a try in the 46th minute and then another in the 58th minute to give Dartmouth a 15-point lead over Harvard, the largest lead of the match.

Harvard responded with a pair of tries of its own. The Crimson scored twice within a five-minute span to cut Dartmouth’s lead back to five with just over 20 minutes left to play.

“It was a really, really tough game,” Tatjana Toeldte ’16 said. “Harvard was really strong at running, and we had some trouble getting them down on the tackle. We spent a lot of time on defense today — that’s a tough game to play.”

Dartmouth’s hard work paid off as the Big Green managed to shut down the Crimson’s comeback in the second half. In the last few minutes of the game, Harvard brought out a strong offensive game-plan and pushed the Big Green back to its try zone. Harvard was very close to tying the game in the last few moments, but its comeback bid fell short as they had the ball knocked forward. The Crimson lost possession of the ball late, giving Dartmouth the win.

“We had some moments of real brilliance,” Dowty said. “The first order of business was definitely beating Harvard. Proud of the girls for doing that, but I think the 16th man today really helped us. The audience and the alums on the sideline definitely upped the energy for us out on the field.”

Many of the alumnae of the women’s rugby program returned to Brophy Field this week to honor the retirement of Dartmouth’s previous head coach, Debra Archambault ’85. Archambault was brought out to the field during halftime and welcomed with a standing ovation from the whole crowd and rugby team. Archambault was an integral part of Dartmouth women’s rugby for 30 years and helped develop and advance the program to what it is today.

“This was an incredible game to play with all of our alums here,” Toeldte said. “It’s so cool to have so many people who have been part of the history of this program out here supporting us. It was an incredible atmosphere.”

The Big Green played a much more disciplined game against Harvard than it did against Princeton University last weekend. In last week’s game, many of Dartmouth’s players were frustrated at how disorganized the game was. This week’s game, however, marked an improvement, as Dartmouth enjoyed more success in the scrums.

“We definitely dominated our scrums, I would say,” Dunn said. “It’s nice to get the ball back nice and secure because it’s a great platform to work off of. The team worked hard I’m so proud of them.”

Overall, the scoreline is indicative of a game that was hard fought and played tight throughout.

“Harvard came out hard, and we came out hard,” Dunn said. “It was a good tough fight. That’s why I love playing Harvard. It’s always a good fight.”

As a result, the team was very pleased to see that its hard work had paid off, but the road does not end here for the women’s rugby team.

“This victory is a really big drive to keep pushing ourselves to keep improving and to keep winning hard games,” Toeldte said. “There’s no rest.”

Up until this point, Dartmouth had three consecutive weekends with conference matchups. The team will get a weekend of rest before they take on Yale University on Oct. 31.