The weekend of September 13–14 saw the MIT Women’s Rugby Club doing battle in Amherst at the Beantown Women’s Collegiate Rugby Tournament. On Saturday, MIT defeated Pennsylvania State University’s B Team 14-10 and dominated Cornell University’s B Team 24-0. In the finals on Sunday, Middlebury College topped MIT 12-7.
The perennial rugby powerhouse Lady Lions showed up in force, bringing 53 players. This game was a suspenseful one from the kickoff. The inside center from the Penn State squad put the first points on the board ten minutes into the first half to lead 5-0. This was the wake-up call that MIT needed after the two and a half hour trip west. Led by young captain Alyssa M. Baccarella ’11, the MIT squad came back strong, determined to make a statement. With organized defensive play and strong pack work MIT was quick to regain possession. The ladies exploited Penn State’s weak back line when a pass from Elizabeth B. Umhoefer ’10 reached Adedoyin T. Ogunniyi ’11 and she scampered in for a try under the post. Ashley M. Snyder G made the conversion to bring the score 7-5 and conclude the first half.
The second half saw both teams coming out strong. Again, a Penn State forward trudged in for a well-deserved score. MIT was awarded a scrum shortly after the restart and began to move the ball towards the Lady Lions try-zone. MIT saw their efforts rewarded when Ogunniyi broke through the Penn State back line for a 30 meter try. Snyder again made the conversion to bring the score to 14-10. The last 10 minutes of the second half saw some of the most intense rugby of the weekend with Penn State setting up camp five meters outside the try-zone. The MIT ladies were able to hold them off, led by the hard-hitting full-back Sarah T. Gomez ’11 and a strong team defensive stand. The whistle blew signaling the end of game and sealing the win for MIT.
The second game of the day pitted the MIT squad against the Cornell B Team. Cornell, suffering numerous injuries in their first game, had to pull from their Division I squad to field a team for this match. Again, the ladies from MIT made their presence felt with the most convincing win of the tournament, a 24-0 drubbing. This game saw Ogunniyi put herself in the score column not once, but three times, with Snyder making all of her conversion kicks. Snyder also provided a rare treat not often witnessed in U.S. rugby, scoring a 30-meter 3 point drop goal that split right down the middle of the up-rights. Defensive efforts were led by flanker Kristen M. Anderson ’11 and Sophie Lee ’12.
On a rainy Sunday, the time had come to decide the champion of the division as MIT faced Middlebury College. The ladies, bruised and sore but excited, took the field and received the kickoff deep in their own side of the field. The wet conditions got the best of the players’ hands with both teams exchanging knock ons and scrums. Eventually, Middlebury gained control mid-way through the first half, creating an overload that allowed their fly-half to make the game’s first try. At the restart, the Lady Engineers went down and on a turnover, created by Umhoefer, set up camp in Middlebury’s end of the field for ten minutes. The closing minutes of the first half saw a moment of back-line genius as Snyder, Umhoefer, and Samantha R. Cohen ’11 who built a drive to the 10-meter line followed by an amazing off load pass to Amy Kelly G. A play by Baccarella saw the captain dive across the line for the tying try. Snyder’s conversion put MIT into the lead 10-5 to end the first half.
The second half saw a heroic effort from MIT’s defense as both sides refused to give an inch to the other. Led by Lee, who repeatedly made her presence known in one way or another, the MIT defense held strong for 17 of the 25 minutes. But in the 18th minute of the second half, Middlebury ran in for an easy go-ahead try under the post. The twilight of the game saw Snyder make an amazing individual play to kick and chase the ball 50 meters into her try zone, but two Middlebury beat Snyder to the ball. The game ended with Middlebury taking the prize 12-7.