Women’s rugby beats Princeton, stays undefeated in Ivy play

by Matt Yuen | 10/11/15 6:15pm

10.12.15.sports.rugby2_Seamore.Zhu_
The Big Green is the final undefeated women’s rugby team left in the Ivy League.
by Seamore Zhu / Seamore Zhu/The Dartmouth

In its fourth game of the season, the women’s rugby team beat Princeton University (0-2, 0-2 Ivy), launching the Big Green (3-1, 3-0 Ivy) to first place in the Ivy League as the only still undefeated team in the standings.

Tatjana Toeldte ’16 continued to lead the way for the Dartmouth offense. After scoring all of the team’s points in last weekend’s win over Brown University, Toeldte opened the scoring for the Big Green by converting a try five minutes into the match before a successful penalty kick with three minutes left to play in the half.Yejadai Dunn ’16 added a try of her own to give Dartmouth a 13-0 lead over Princeton heading into the halftime break.

In the second half, Princeton’s All-American Jessica Lu was the only player who was able to put points on the board for the Tigers, lodging a try less than a minute into the second half and shrinking the Big Green’s lead to 13-5. Dartmouth continued to put points on the board but never fully pulled away from its Ivy League counterpart. Within a few minutes of entering her first collegiate rugby contest, Camille Johnson ’19 scored a try to give Dartmouth an 18-5 lead after 59 minutes of play. Dunn scored her second try of the affair at the 69-minute mark to increase the Big Green’s lead to 23-5, a scoreline which remained until the end of the game.

The victory did not come easily for Dartmouth as the Big Green found itself adapting to many difficult circumstances throughout the game. At a cold 45 degrees with strong winds throughout the course of the match, handling the ball was difficult for players on both sides of the game.

“It was a windy game,” Dunn said. “Balls weren’t going straight in the line out, and we had to adapt to that.”

Despite Princeton only scoring one try, the Tigers tested Dartmouth and kept the affair close for the entire contest. During the breakdowns, Princeton played a very strong and aggressive game. Throughout the game, many Princeton players dove into the ruck after each tackle in attempts to secure the ball, making it hard for Dartmouth to retain possession.

“Princeton in the breakdowns were ferocious, so we definitely had to learn to adapt to that quickly,” head coach Katie Dowty said.

Princeton’s team also displayed great skill in handling the ball, manipulating the space on the field and running the ball down to the try line. Throughout the game, Dartmouth had a difficult time chasing down Princeton’s players when the ball got back to the Big Green’s backline.

“They ran really well in the space, and that’s something we had to work really hard to shut down,” Toeldte said.

Additionally, Dartmouth found itself shorthanded as team captain Kerry Conlin ’16 and Audrey Perez ’17 — two of the team’s key players — were unable to play on Saturday. Having these two players absent from the match was a bit of a double-edged sword — the absences in the lineup allowed new players to get exposure to game settings but playing without two of the team’s core members made it harder to execute the team’s game plan. Dartmouth, however, was not the only team to have new players in the game as Princeton’s frontline had a crop of new players as well.

“Scrums were messy,” Dunn said. “Their front row is pretty new, so it was a little different. But we tried to work on it.”

Scrums throughout the game were not as smooth as they could have been. In most of the scrums, the two teams failed to engage straight on. As a result, there was a lot of boring during the scrums, which essentially consisted of two people outside engaging inwards on the hooker of the other team. Not only is this incredibly painful for the hookers, but it is also disrupts the flow of the scrum.

As a result of the chaotic scrums, Dartmouth found itself unable to execute its own game plan.

“We came out with a plan, but it was a bit messy,” Toeldte said. “We worked on trying to execute what we worked on in practice this week and push through some tough phases.”

Despite all of these challenging circumstances, the Big Green still came back to Hanover with the victory.

“Every game is different,” Dunn said. “You get out there play a different team and different things happen, and we try to adjust to that. It was an adapting game.”

Overall, the game against Princeton was important to the women’s rugby team not only because it was a victory, but also because it allowed the team to practice adapting to new conditions. For the Big Green, learning more about the game and becoming more skilled in playing is at the very heart of the team.

“For us, it’s really about continuing to build on our progress every week,” Toeldte said. “We wanted to build on things we’ve been practicing last week, see if we can execute them against a team that plays differently and really focus on playing our game.”

This Saturday Dartmouth will return to the Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse for its third-straight home Ivy League contest as the Big Green will take on perennial rivals Harvard University.