Rugby wins Championship, punctuating undefeated season

by Manisha Apte | 11/8/11 11:00pm

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11.09.11.sports.rugby
by Katharine Pujol and Katharine Pujol / The Dartmouth

The women's rugby team hosted and played in the weekend's Plate Division Tournament, a conciliatory tournament below the Northeast Final Four. Dartmouth defeated the State University of New York, Brockport on Saturday, 38-24, before falling in a 22-5 loss to Boston College on Sunday.

The men's team opened the Championship by squaring off against last-place Columbia University. The Big Green won easily and advanced to defeat Cornell University's B team, which had replaced the no-show University of Pennsylvania in the pool draw. Dartmouth finished the preliminary round of play by beating Harvard, its eventual finals opponent, 29-0.

"I thought we played pretty well, and obviously it's the end of the season so people are pretty tired," captain Paul Jarvis '12 said. "The sevens are more aerobically taxing because there is more space to work with, so I was happy with how everyone played."

Madison Hughes '15 set the pace against Harvard with a hat trick, opening with a 50-meter try on a counter-attacking play. Justin Ciambella '13 contributed two conversions and a try of his own to give the Big Green a 17-0 lead at halftime.

Hughes began the scoring again in the second period, with prop Lawrence Afro-Whyte '13 also adding a try.

"I think Madison has been a huge impact on the team," Jarvis said. "He played at a high level before coming over but he is a very humble guy and a great addition to the team."

The B team also performed well in pool play, holding off both Yale University and Princeton University's A teams to join the Big Green A team in the final four.

The Dartmouth v. Dartmouth semi-final saw the A team come out on top with a 31-7 win. The Dartmouth B team then faced Brown University in the third-place conciliation match.

While the B team could not maintain its momentum, losing 45-7, the Big Green A team kept up its good form to overcome a determined Harvard squad.

The Crimson had failed to score any points against Dartmouth in either pool play or during the regular season. While the Crimson scored in the finals with two second-half tries and conversions, the Big Green mounted pressure early on with four first-half tries. Hughes again showcased his abilities as a wing by scoring four tries, while Bill Lehmann '12 and Jarvis each contributed a try.

Although Dartmouth lost in the inaugural Ivy Sevens Championships in the spring, it has now won two sevens tournaments in 2011. It capped a remarkable run in the USA Sevens College Rugby Championships in June with a 32-10 victory over the United States Military Academy.

With a break from match action, the men's team will participate in weight training and skill work over the winter. While hoping to receive new additions to the team, Dartmouth will work to improve its fitness prior to its tentative spring tour in Argentina, Jarvis said.

Ranked first in the Plate Division, the Dartmouth women's team played its last home games of the season against fourth-ranked Brockport and third-ranked Boston College.

"I thought we did a good job making use of what we had, because there were a lot of injuries, especially today," Ginna Roach '12 said. "The new players really stepped up and filled in where they needed to and did a great job of playing at the level that they needed to play to be successful."

Flyhalf Katie Gulemi '11 received an offload to open the scoring against Brockport. Her score was followed by the first of five tries by Ashley Afranie-Sakyi '13.

Karoline Walter '13 succeeded in both of her conversion attempts to put the Big Green up 14-0. Brockport managed a try and conversion in the dying minutes of the first half to narrow the score to 19-7.

With only two more tries and a free kick in the second half, Brockport could not find a solution to the Big Green's mighty offense.

Dartmouth was stopped short on Sunday by four Eagles tries. Afranie-Sakyi scored once for the Big Green before the final whistle to prevent a shutout.

Roach said that despite the loss, the team was happier with its performance on Sunday than it was on Saturday, as it played with more determination against Boston College.

Brown won the Final Four Tournament against two other League teams and Army, emerging with the first seed for Nationals in the spring.

With its fall season complete, the women's team will focus on honing its sevens skills during the winter, before commencing its spring season with a tour in northern California, Roach said.

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