Rugby soundly defeats No. 3 United States Military Academy

by Evan Morgan | 9/25/17 1:20am

womensrugby_callumzehner

Though the United States Military Academy beat the Big Green 63-12 last year, Dartmouth steamrolled Army 45-7 on Saturday at Brophy Field.

by Callum Zehner / The Dartmouth

Another week, another win over a top-three national power for the rugby team. Two weeks after narrowly beating defending national champion Quinnipiac University, the Big Green steamrolled the preseason No. 3 United States Military Academy by a score of 45-7. With its first-ever win against Army, Dartmouth is undefeated through the most difficult portion of its schedule.

Last season, the game against Army followed a very different script. Fresh off a loss to Quinnipiac, the women from West Point came to Brophy Field and dealt Dartmouth a 63-12 drubbing. That game finished with eight unanswered Army tries over the final 40 minutes of play.

On Saturday at Brophy Field, all but one of the tries went for the Big Green. The opening 15 minutes were a sign of what was to come. Dartmouth got out front in the fourth minute when prop Idia Ihensekhien ’21 got into the try zone. Ten minutes later, Lilly Durbin ’21 added to the Dartmouth lead, intercepting an Army pass and flashing her speed to touch the ball down between the posts.

In the 21st minute, it was Durbin again. This time, receiving the ball after a stolen lineout, she squirted through a hole just before midfield and burned the Army defenders. The remainder of the half was largely a possession battle that took place beyond Army’s 10-meter line. The visitors were unable to sustain any offense and the two teams went to the locker room with the Big Green up 21-0 on the strength of three tries and three Kat Ramage ’19 conversions.

“When we went into the locker room and we split into positions, [head coach Katie Dowty] took us aside and she said, ‘I’ve never said this before to a team, but don’t change anything,’” Frankie Sands ’18 said.

Dartmouth got possession a few minutes after the kickoff and made the most of it. The Big Green got inside Army’s 22-meter line with a nice run. Ramage took possession and passed to Ihensekhien, who bulled her way in for the try. Dartmouth threatened to score again in the 48th minute when Ramage kicked the ball into the try zone, but the pursuing Big Green player was unable to ground the ball. Dartmouth’s persistence on the try line paid off a minute later when Durbin punched in her third try of the day.

Army got its first and only points of the day in the 52nd minute, intercepting a Big Green pass near midfield and sprinting in for the try. The 31-7 scoreline was the closest the visitors would get. Durbin tacked on the final two tries of the day, the first assisted by Ramage in the 61st minute and the second on an assist from Sands in the final 10 minutes.

Dartmouth had the game in hand nearly from the opening kick.

“Going into the game we tried to have control of the game, to stick to our structure,” Durbin said.

Similar to last week’s game against Quinnipiac, much of the match against Army was played on the visitors’ half of the field. The Big Green was on attack the majority of the time, keeping Army on its back foot. Dartmouth relied on its backs to do the bulk of the scoring.

“Normally the forwards will just pick the ball continuously, and we’d forget we have backs,” Ihensekhien said. “But this time, we really focused on getting the ball out so we can use them more and utilize the whole team.”

Also helping hold Army to seven points, its lowest total in 15s since a match last October against Pennsylvania State University, was a staunch Dartmouth defense.

“It comes down to trust, being able to trust the person on your inside to take that tackle and continue to drive up,” Sands said.

The Big Green has a comparatively easy 15’s schedule over the next several weeks. This Saturday, Dartmouth will play host to Princeton University, a club team, before traveling to No. 7 Harvard University and returning home to face No. 10 Brown University.