Women’s rugby topples Harvard
By Sharon Dauson, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Wednesday, May 9, 2007
The Dartmouth women's rugby club put the cherry on top of its exciting year on Saturday, May 5, dominating Harvard 66-5 in its final game of the season. The game, contested on Dartmouth's own Brophy Field at the Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse in Hanover, was a fitting farewell for the graduating seniors.
"The DWRC played a great game," senior forwards captain Terese Hopper '07 said. "I didn't expect to get emotional, but it is kind of hard not to."
The Big Green took control of the game from the start when Alyssa Anderson '07 scored the first try of the game. Dartmouth continued to set the pace throughout the entire match. The first half included three tries from Michelle Dunn '09, great kicks and runs by Kirsten Ahrendt '07 and Jenna Cunningham '10, and exceptional passing from Mariel Lacina '10 and Lindsay Zahradka '07. The first half ended with Dartmouth ahead of Harvard 44-0.
The Big Green continued to dominate in the second half. Corinne Headley '08 started one scoring sequence with a 20-meter run, and the ball then went from Rachel Forman '09 to Cunningham. Parker Fagrelius '07 proceeded to hit prop Amelia Alvarez '08 for the try.
The second half was also marked by solid running by Ahrendt, including a 30-meter run to score a try under the uprights.
After the contest, several members of the club commented on the team's play in the convincing win.
"We've been working really hard on having more continuous play and we put that into action pretty well today," Emily Luscz '08 said.
"Kristen had a great game on Saturday, but she always has great games," Dunn added.
DWRC coach Debra Archambault '85 thought Saturday's game was one of better efforts in the club's recent memory.
"This weekend was a highlight of the season because we had been working really hard to put a cohesive team on the field despite the obstacles of snow on the ground and students with lots of other commitments," Archambault said.
On Sunday, May 6, the Big Green played in the New England State Tournament in which each state in New England, except Connecticut, entered an all-star side. New Hampshire, comprised of thirteen Dartmouth students, won the tournament.
Based on their play in the tournament, Ahrendt, Dunn, Luscz, Forman, Cunningham and Zahradka were all selected to attend the Northeastern Rugby Union Camp, where they will have a chance at being selected for the Under-23 U.S. Rugby Selection Camp.
"After the disappointment of only placing third in Ivies this year and second in the New England Division I tournament, to come in first as the New Hampshire State Team at the end of a very long weekend of rugby was great," Archambault said. "The players rose to the challenge and showed admirable courage and mental toughness."
Ahrendt was a member of the U-23 U.S. National squad, and Zahradka and Cunningham were all All-Ivy selections for their play in the Ivy League tournament earlier in the spring.
Archambault believes that Dartmouth's continued success is due more to its ability to mold good players than having a few highly skilled players.
"The DWRC's greatest strength is its ability to take a diverse group of women and turn them into a cohesive, talented and successful team year after year," Archambault said. "We do it with integrity, a real respect for the individual and patience."
It is crucial that the rugby team mold walk-ons into successful ruggers, as the team is a club sport open to anyone who is interested.
"With the exception of two people on the team, everyone just started when they came to Dartmouth," Dunn said. "You learn the basics quickly and then you slowly pick up the intricacies of the game."
For Archambault, coaching a team of inexperienced players makes her job more challenging, but also more rewarding.
"One of my favorite things about coaching women's rugby is, from the time they are freshmen to senior year, watching the athletes push their physical limits and watching them develop courage and mental and physical stamina," she said.
Archambault has noticed that the typical Dartmouth women who join the rugby team now are different from the typical women who joined the team when she played for the Big Green in the '80s.
"We're getting more and more kids who never played sports before," Archambault said. "The beauty of our team is that all these women with different backgrounds and athletic abilities gel into a Division I team that wins most of its games."