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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Women’s rugby wins NIRA national championship with 28-18 victory over Army

The victory earned the Big Green its second title in the last three seasons and cemented an undefeated 2021 campaign.

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Emily Henrich ’22 scored Dartmouth's first try en route to their 28-18 victory in the NIRA national championship.

Last night, the Dartmouth women’s rugby team went head-to-head with Army West Point for the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) national championship. For the second time in just three seasons, the Big Green brought home the trophy, beating Army on their home field 28-18. The victory is Dartmouth’s second national championship, also having captured the crown in 2018. 

Coming into the game, Dartmouth was ranked as the No. 1 seed in the country, boasting an undefeated 8-0 record and a slew of impressive wins, including a 70-0 defeat of Mount St. Mary’s University — only the fourth shutout of an opponent in program history — a 45-31 victory over 2019 NIRA champion Harvard University and a 34-28 win over the same Black Knights team they faced in the championship. Last weekend, Dartmouth handily took down Brown University in the NIRA semifinals 56-5 to earn its opportunity to play for the title. 

Emily Henrich ’22, back in her home state of New York, took the reins early and earned the team its first try with a successful conversion by Abbey Savin ’24 just 3:40 into the game to put Dartmouth up 7-0. The next 15 minutes saw a series of attempted tries by Dartmouth be thwarted by a strong Army team.

It was not until 18 minutes into the half that Idia Ihensekhien ’21 scored on a try and Savin converted again to make the score 14-0. Dartmouth was unable to keep Army scoreless, however, as Army scored off of a penalty kick with 17:49 left in the half. As the first-half clock ticked down to zero, both teams fought hard but neither was able to score again. Dartmouth went into halftime up 14-3. 

In the last 40 minutes of their respective seasons, the two teams fought hard. Ihensekhien was finally able to end the 30-minute scoring drought for Dartmouth by scoring another try with Savin’s third successful conversion to put the Big Green up 21-3. However, Army responded by mounting a comeback, scoring a try of their own just eight minutes later and quickly following with another to make the score 21-13. 

Despite the momentum and the home-field advantage on Army’s side, the Big Green answered with a try scored by  Lilly Durbin ’21 followed by Savin’s fourth conversion of the night to make it 28-13. With 1:55 remaining in the game, Army scored a try to make it 28-18 but was unable to overcome Dartmouth’s commanding lead.

Ihensekhien, who converted two successful tries at crucial moments, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. In their last three seasons, the Big Green have won two national titles under head coach Katie Dowty to pull within one of Quinnipiac University’s record three NIRA national titles. After just six seasons of NIRA competition and a full year off due to the pandemic last year, the Dartmouth women posted their best season yet and cemented themselves as a rugby powerhouse.

A full story with more information will be published in the near future.