Women’s rugby takes down three-time defending national champions Quinnipiac University 40-22
Dartmouth women’s rugby took down three-time defending national champions Quinnipiac University 40-22 in Hamden, Connecticut on Saturday, Sept. 8. Last November, Quinnipiac defeated the Big Green 29-20 in the NIRA Championship. This loss was their only defeat last year, as they finished the 2017-18 season 8-1. Entering this season, Dartmouth was second in the NIRA preseason rankings behind Quinnipiac. After this victory, the team is now ranked first, with Quinnipiac falling to third.
While avenging last year’s heartbreaking defeat was certainly on the team’s mind, the players tried to focus more on the present rather than past.
“We tried not to focus too much on last year — different team this year, different experiences for us and them — and we just really wanted to focus on doing what we do to the best of our abilities,” Camille Johnson ’19 said. “No matter who you’re playing against, all it comes down to is how you perform on that day. You can never take the other team’s performance or experience into too much consideration.”
Casey Smerczynski ’20 echoed a similar sentiment on focusing more on the team’s own capabilities.
“The team’s mindset going in was to not under or overestimate them,” Smerczynski said. “We really wanted to focus on our own game and not get inside our heads about what kind of team they were going to have this season.”
The previous weekend, the team opened its season by defeating Notre Dame College 74-5, gaining momentum as it looked to take on the Bobcats once again.
“We were obviously expecting two very different types of games,” Johnson said. “For Notre Dame, we came in wanting to give our best performance and give everyone an opportunity to get some experience and time on the field to really learn how to play together and mesh well and get our system going. Quinnipiac was one of our biggest challengers last year; obviously we fell to them in the national championship after beating them earlier in the season, so we really just wanted to focus on taking the things that we learned in our Notre Dame game about how to play together, how to work through what we learned in our system and really applying that to the best of our abilities against Quinnipiac.”
In the first half of the match, Johnson, Sophie Ragg ’22 and Kat Ramage ’19 all scored for the Big Green, with Henrich and Ragg each tallying two tries and Ramage five conversions.
“It was an amazing feeling scoring the first try against Quinnipiac because it was a huge team effort and scoring early meant that we started the game off on the front foot,” Ragg said. “Personally, I think it boosted my confidence because I was pretty nervous when the game started. I guess I didn’t want to let the team down, especially as I know how hard the girls work to get the results we do.”
Ragg, a fullback from Wilsborough Green, England, is playing in her first season for the Big Green.
“I feel so blessed to be part of a team who are not only so good at what they do, but also such a nice group of people,” Ragg said. “I am looking forward to learning from the more experienced girls as the season goes on. We have some great leaders in our team, and I know I can learn a lot from them both on and off the field. I also feel lucky to be able to play four more years with the other freshmen in our team. They have so much talent and resilience, it really is incredible.”
At the end of the first 40 minutes of play, the Big Green led 28-10. While Quinnipiac attempted to rally back, Margot Généreux ’21 sealed the deal for Dartmouth by scoring her first try in the final minutes of the game to bring home a 40-22 victory.
Looking toward the rest of the season, the team hopes to continue its success.
“We definitely have things that we have learned in the past few games that we need to work on, and all it comes down to for us is focusing on what we do and not worrying about anybody else,” Johnson said. “[It’s] just brushing up on what we do and really focusing on the basics and getting handling errors and our system. This team has so much potential and so much talent on it [that if] we can get everybody on the same page [and] work together toward the same goals, then I think we’ll be unstoppable.”
Smerczynski emphasized that the team looks forward to improving upon weaknesses from last season and the team’s overall discipline.
“I think this season so far has really been about finding what’s been working for us in the past seasons, but also finding what hasn’t been working and capitalizing on solutions as a group,” she said. “I think what we’re improving on for this season is having discipline on and off the pitch, whether it be discipline in a defensive line or discipline in getting in eight hours of sleep every night.”
The team is already well on track, with a hot 3-0 start after overwhelming No. 9 Brown University this Saturday 98-7. The Big Green will face another test next Saturday against No. 2 Harvard University.