Women’s rugby, in tough stretch, falls 39-19 to Army at home

by Kaitlyn Lees | 10/7/19 2:00am

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Army only led 10-7 at halftime, but broke away in the second half to gain an insurmountable lead over the Big Green.

by Elsa Ericksen / The Dartmouth

Women’s rugby fell to the undefeated United States Military Academy at home Saturday afternoon, 39-19. After a season opening routing of Brown University, the Big Green faced two tough competitors in Harvard University and Army and ultimately fell to both. Despite the loss, the 2018 national champions have shown progress since their first loss of the season two weekends ago to Harvard. 

Going into the Army game, the team worked hard on its mental game. 

“Harvard was a tough loss so we wanted to go into Army’s game with a mindset of intentionality,” said Ale Ada ’22. 

The team had several sessions talking about their mindset on the field and doing things with purpose. They developed a check list to help them accomplish this. The three questions — “Where are we? What’s the goal? What’s my goal?” — were designed to help the Big Green stay present on the field. 

The Big Green kept the game close throughout the first half. Army scored first to take the game to 5-0. Ariana Ramsey ’22 and Kristin Bitter ’23 responded with a try and a conversion to give Dartmouth its first lead of the game at 7-5. It was the first score Army had allowed since its first game of the season against Harvard as the Golden Knights had since taken down both Quinnipiac University and Notre Dame College without letting a single point go. 

To Ada, the game flowed much better than the team’s previous outing. Against Harvard, the Big Green struggled after the Crimson took a big early lead but came back with an incredibly strong second half performance. Of the hard-fought first half, Bitter said, “Both teams came out there and everyone knew this was the time to set the tone for the game.”

At the half, only three points separated the teams, with Army leading 10-7. Ramsey and Bitter then came through again for the Big Green with another try and kick to put Dartmouth ahead early in the second half. 

Army, however, also started the second half strong with three tries and two conversions that put Dartmouth down by 15 with a quarter of the game to go. The Black Knights were able to capitalize on momentum from having most of the possession time and keeping the Big Green down in its defending half. A try from Bitter put Dartmouth within 10 but Army’s performance proved too much for the Big Green to match in the final minutes. 

Despite the loss, both Ada and Bitter spoke about how the team left the field with positive takeaways and having achieved their goal of an improved mental game. 

“We went out there knowing what we wanted to do and although it didn’t go the way we wanted, we played with heart and 100 percent grit,” Ada said.

Head coach Katie Dowty said she was pleased with how the players have progressed since the Harvard game and the mental toughness they showed on the field.

“Despite losing, I think it showed that we are very much postseason contenders if we continue like we did,” Dowty said. “We are really excited moving forward.”

The defending national champions’ back-to-back losses speaks to the fact that despite the small number of programs within women’s collegiate rugby, there is a high level of competitiveness. Army has come out strong this season and remains the only undefeated National Intercollegiate Rugby Association team. Harvard also fell to the Black Knights earlier this season 34-10. Dartmouth’s overall record against Army is now knotted at 3-3. 

The Big Green returns to action next weekend with a home game to round out the regular season against Quinnipiac University. Last year, Dartmouth defeated the Bobcats 40-22. After that matchup, the Big Green will look forward to a rematch with Harvard at the Ivy Rugby Championship in late October, followed by postseason play in November, which likely bring about a rematch against Army. Last year, Dartmouth faced Army in the first round and knocked them out of the postseason with a 26-7 victory.