W. rugby wins Northeast tourney

by Thomas J. Hutchison | 11/14/00 6:00am

In two games this weekend at the Northeast Tournament at Renessalaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY, the Dartmouth women's rugby club defeated Cornell on Saturday and then UMass on Sunday to capture the tournament title and earn a berth in the national tournament, which will be held in the Spring.

The semifinal game against Cornell was played in muddy, rainy conditions, with the Big Green taking an almost instantaneous 5-0 lead 15 seconds into the game as 8-man Sarah Foy '01 broke away and set up a try by outside center Bridget Waitkus '02. The conversion was missed.

The score was followed by several series of strong defensive play, with neither team able to take advantage. Suddenly, scrumhalf Amylynne Frankel '03 scooped up the ball from the back of a ruck and sprinted the remaining 60 meters into the tryzone and touched down the ball. Following a conversion by Foy, the score was 12-0 in favor of Dartmouth.

Play continued to be intense and physical, but neither team could break away, and the score remained 12-0 at halftime.

Dartmouth kicked off to begin the second half. A number of set scrums ensued at near midfield, and Cornell begin to march downfield.

Following a wheeled scrum at the Dartmouth end of the field, Cornell's 8-man snatched the ball and touched it down in the tryzone to narrow the Dartmouth lead to 12-5.

The Big Green would quickly respond, pushing their way downfield following a Waitkus dropkick. The ball ended up in Foy's hands, and she took it in for a try.

Dartmouth was not done for the day, and following the Cornell dropkick, Foy broke away and moved the ball up field. Some rough play in the mud followed until wing Elisse Gaynor '03 kicked the ball up field.

Fullback Sara Jane Carpenter '03 took the ball and rumbled into the tryzone to give Dartmouth a 22-5 lead. Despite some late offensive threats by Cornell, Dartmouth stayed strong, and the score remained the same.

On Sunday, Dartmouth faced top ranked UMass, a team that had dominated the Big Green in the regular season 27-0. This day was far different, however, as Dartmouth came out on top 12-10 and, in the process, secured the Northeast Tournament title.

"It was one of the proudest, most memorable moments I've ever experienced. We were clearly the underdog," Waitkus said. "The best part about the game was that we played as hard as we could for 80 minutes and truly proved that we deserved to win. There was no fluke in our victory."

UMass began the title game with a kickoff. They were awarded an early lineout near the 22-meter mark, and took the ball wide. UMass' wing sprinted around the Dartmouth defenders and touched down the first try of the game within the first minute of play. It appeared that this Dartmouth-UMass game would have similar results as the first.

Dartmouth quickly retaliated, driving downfield and nearing the tryzone. UMass held strong and nearly scored again. It was the Dartmouth defense's turn to hold, and it performed its task, bending but not breaking with a series of rucks.

The teams played to a stalemate, with UMass finally taking advantage of a blocked kick and touching the ball down to give themselves a comfortable 10-0 lead at halftime. Unfortunately for UMass, it was to be its last score of the day.

Dartmouth kicked off in the second half, but UMass' initial offensive series proved fruitless.

The Big Green took the ball and methodically moved towards the tryzone. Alyssa Chandler '01 touched down the ball for the first Dartmouth points of the day, apparently to her own surprise.

"I thought I was just rucking," said the excited senior.

The game continued very evenly for a time, and with a little over 15 minutes left in the game, UMass kicked the ball past their 22-meter line. Dartmouth kicked it back and began to control the ball.

Waitkus and inside center Rosemary Riley '01 initiated a brilliant series of passes, with Waitkus finally down in a ruck within a meter of the left goalpost. Hooker Michelle Lyle '01 scraped up the ball and took it into the tryzone.

Diving to the ground between the posts, Lyle tied the score and set up the conversion. Foy kicked the ball through the posts, and Dartmouth took their first lead of the game. It was a lead they would not surrender.

UMass continued their strong play, striving for the tryzone. But a powerful Dartmouth defense, exemplified in the strong tackling of flyhalf Abby Berniker '03, would not be denied. The game ended on the Dartmouth 22 with a lineout, as the Big Green became the Division I Northeast champions.