Women’s rugby starts off with strong preseason in Scotland
By Dave Hollenberg
Published on Friday, April 6, 2007
After winning three games overseas, the Dartmouth Women's Rugby Club is confident of stateside success in their upcoming spring season. On a 10-day trip to Scotland, the DWRC swept their opponents in three games against local competition, winning their games by a combined score of 74-10.
"Scotland was a wonderful way for us to start off our spring season," co-captain Kirsten Ahrendt '07 said. "The team really came together well and we played some excellent rugby. We have high hopes for individuals and the team this upcoming spring."
In the first match of their trip, DWRC faced off against the local club side of Strathclyde, hoping to put to use the long winter training that led up to the trip. Within minutes, the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Strong tackling from Michelle Dunn '09 and Lindsay Zahdraka '07, despite the size of the larger opponent, set up an extended stand for Dartmouth inside the Strathclyde 22m zone. A looping play by Mallory McQueen '09 released Leila English '09 into space for the first try of the match.
With the score 17-0, Strathclyde's pressure resulted in a long defensive stand by DWRC, punctuated by several mauls and a near try inches from the line. Up 22-0 at the half, Dartmouth's backs contributed strong running rugby, leading up a 60-meter run for the final try of the match by Nanette Cedeno '09. The final score of 29-0 was a deserving reward for a complete match.
"We went out with a lot of heart, and at the end of the match we were satisfied with the way we played," McQueen said.
Next up for the DWRC was a more experienced and feisty Stirling University side. Early attacking by Zahdraka and Liz Rexford '08 led to Alyssa Anderson '07 feeding Ahrendt, whose quick cutback led to a try.
Despite the early advantage, the forwards continued to integrate into the backline, creating pressure and retaining much of the possession. A try by Rexford made the score 12-0, followed by a stellar independent effort by prop Morgan Cole '07, who broke through multiple defenders for the tally. Continued possession led to Zahdraka making her way through the defense and threading a pass to Amelia Alvarez '09 for DWRC's fourth try before halftime.
Run-around rugby was the strategy in the second half, and despite a long run followed by a try by Stirling, Kate Cameron '08 assisted on a try by Onyi Kanu '09, closing out the match with a final score of 32-5.
"Stirling provided us with more competition with better runners oveall, but we stepped it up early on and were able to play our game regardless," Anderson said.
The most difficult test of the trip awaited the DWRC in the Aberdeen women's club team. Substantially bigger than either of the previous sides, Aberdeen quickly seized momentum, forcing Dartmouth to stand tall in their own half of the pitch.
Despite the defensive effort, multiple phases resulted in Aberdeen utilizing an overload on the flank, inside Dartmouth's 22m, allowing their fullback to take the ball on the outside for the game's first try.
"Aberdeen had big strong players, and really put us back on our heels early in the game, and being scored upon early in the game was a wake-up call," Ahrendt said. "We immediately regrouped and started to take control of the game -- playing our style of rugby."
For the first time during their trip, the DWRC responded calmly and with force.
Following a smart passing sequence, Anderson found Cole, who popped the ball up to Ahrendt on the outside, resulting in Dartmouth's first try of the day. The missed conversion left the score 5-5, a draw that would remain through halftime.
Aberdeen came out aggressively in the second half, using their size to win many of the early scrums. Kanu and McQueen established the offense with quick passing and long runs, leading up to Anderson finding Ahrendt, who promptly looped a pass to Rexford for the go-ahead score.
Ahrendt would later add a penalty kick to make the score 13-5 in favor of the Big Green.
Following decisive running and attacking by Aberdeen, DWRC stood up defensively, highlighted by a Rachel Forman '09 tackle on the opposing fullback. This would be all that was needed to emerge victorious, leaving the DWRC undefeated on their Scotland trip.
"[The Scotland] tour was a great starting point for our spring season, as we brought together players of many levels and were able to build a cohesive unit," Anderson said.
The spring season, which will be punctuated by tournaments at UMass and Brown in mid-April, begins this weekend at home on Saturday against Army at 11 a.m. on Memorial Field.