Men's rugby trounces two League opponents

by Manisha Apte | 9/25/11 10:00pm

The Dartmouth rugby teams saw their fair share of action over the weekend, as both the men's and women's teams opened Ivy League play. The men's team secured away wins against Cornell University, 97-3, and Columbia University, 64-0, while the women's team opened with a 41-12 loss to Brown University at home.

The women, entering the fall season with several new players, squared off against a competitive Brown team (1-0 Ivy) led by All-American Blaine Martin, captain Theresa Cassano '12 said.

After allowing Brown's first try 10 minutes in, Dartmouth (0-1 Ivy) found it difficult to close in on its opposing forward line and fell behind 29-0 at the half.

Wing Rita Montour '13 notched Dartmouth's first try in the 54th minute, and center Ashley Afranie-Sakyi '13 sped down the middle of the field in the 76th minute to earn another score.

"Brown has always been a really strong team and we love playing them because it's always a good, solid match," fullback Maddy Sturm '13 said. "It was really awesome the way everyone stepped up, worked hard and communicated well in the second half."

Brown took advantage of the empty space on the wings, as it converted five first-half tries down the flanks.

Although the Big Green found itself getting sucked into the center and losing possession in the first half, it managed a 24-minute shutout in the second.

The match's turnaround resulted from better teamwork and from Brown's removal of many of its best players after halftime, head coach Deb Archambault said.

"Because our team is so inexperienced and since we haven't played a good side yet, I wasn't sure what to expect," she said. "Basically, we have a lot to work with and our leadership is fantastic they really want things to happen."

While the Bears have many experienced seniors, Dartmouth is still trying to find a rhythm with its new players, Sturm said.

"Our team has a lot of new players, and they joined just two weeks ago," Sturm said. "We lost a lot of seniors but our upperclassmen are great at leading."

The team will attempt to bounce back next Saturday, when it meets Columbia University at home.

After winning the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship in June, the men's team began its fall League season with aplomb.

Dartmouth (2-0 Ivy) quickly took control at Cornell (0-1 Ivy), as newcomer Madison Hughes '15 nabbed his first Dartmouth try and subsequent conversion.

The team entered cruise control from that point, with back-to-back tries from center Kevin Clark '14 and captain Paul Jarvis '12. Going into halftime, Dartmouth had just surrendered one penalty in building a 66-3 lead.

The Big Green overpowered the Big Red in the second half, shutting Cornell out and scoring five more tries en route to its 97-3 victory.

On Sunday, Dartmouth showcased its defensive skills and secured a shutout against Columbia (1-1 Ivy). Clark led the team with three tries, while six other Big Green players contributed to the final tally.

"It was a good test to see how we stack up in the Ivy League, but moving forward we don't want to take away too many false positives," Jarvis said. "We have many things to work on. We were not as sharp as we would like to be and we need to work on repositioning and our scrums need to be better."

This fall, the Big Green is returning to the League, beginning the spring season as a member of the USA Rugby Division I-AA 15s competition and ending a one-year spell in the College Premier Division. The change will be more conducive to the team's academic schedule and its preparations for this year's Sevens Championship, Jarvis said.

The Big Green plays its first home match of the season on Saturday, when it will face Yale University at 11 a.m.

"Yale played us pretty close last year and it will be a good, physical game," Jarvis said. "It will be fantastic to play at home and get some crowd support."

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