BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College women's rugby team celebrated Family Weekend with a decisive 31-5 triumph over Tufts University. The victory improves the Polar Bears to 6-0 (3-0 NESCRC) this fall.
Coach Marybeth Mathews' Report
The women's rugby match between Bowdoin and Tufts on Parents/Family Weekend featured two very worthy opponents, with both sets of eight forwards up to the challenge of playing some great, hard-nosed rugby. The two forward packs scrummaged, rucked and contested every loose ball in the first half, with Tufts getting the edge on rucking, but unable to convert possession to gains in territory, in part due to the packs relentless pressure and the tackling of Dani McAvoy, Lynn Freedman, Emily Athanas-Linden and Kerry Townsend. After intensively working downfield with possession, the Polar Bears got on the scoreboard at the 15 min mark from a broken play in second phase when Athanas-Linden ran the ball to the left side, broke a tackle and sped into the in-goal area for 5 points. Ten minutes later, after defending several possession changes, Bowdoin's fullback Townsend caught a kick and found holes to run through in the disorganized defense for an excellent counterattacking score. Randi London converted and Bowdoin held a 12-0 lead. On the ensuing kick-off, Tufts came right back, maintaining possession and pressure and forced a penalty at Bowdoin's 5m mark. Bowdoin defended the line but Tufts was able to break through on third phase, scoring an uncoverted try to bring the score to 12-5 with under 3 minutes left. Moments later, unable to gain momentum or yardage passing down the backline, flyhalf Athanas-Linden placed a tactical kick downfield in front of the goalposts. Chasing downfield from their onsides position, Uche Esonu and Helen White'13 put pressure on the fullback, with Esonu making the tackle, quickly getting to her feet and gathering the loose ball to dive over the line for the final try of the first half. London converted, with a halftime score of 19-5.
To avoid a repeat of just barely surviving Tufts' 2011 second half comeback, the Polar Bears went to work to correct mistakes in body position, alignment and communication. While the Jumbos forwards played strong and physical, Bowdoin's pack matched them and got lower in the rucks to drive their opponents off the ball and clean things up for scrumhalf Kam Sanchez to deliver the ball out. Flyhalf Athanas-Linden varied her calls with backline moves and a series of strategic kicks. McAvoy and Freedman played the Bowdoin lineouts superbly, with Freedman spoiling lots of Jumbo ball.
The second half scoring opened as a result of fantastic support from Dani McAvoy and Randi London on another long, counterattacking run by fullback Townsend. McAvoy followed behind Townsend for 50 meters, took the offload pass from her and placed the ball perfectly in the tackle for secondary supporter Randi London to pick the ball up and dive over the try line. London converted her own try, and the Polar Bears led 26-5. The second half continued with several good series of possession changes but Tufts scoring attempts were negated by solid tackles from Kein'15 and Townsend'13. Townsend closed out the scoring with her second try of the game. Final score 31-5.
Bowdoin's B-side got their first full match vs Tufts B today and played to an even 5-5 draw. Both sides had multiple new players itching to get game experience and this game delivered. Forwards Melody Moon, Maggie Acosta, Ally Glass-Katz and Kylie Moore had impressive moments on offense and defense. Jimena Escudero anchored the team with several fine tackles, rucks and passes while Aviva Mattingly added stability on the wing. The backline enjoyed a modicum of success given their inexperience on both attack and defense, with many players getting the feel of the their first good tackle! Hayleigh Kein'15 scored Bowdoin's try off a lovely assist from Mattingly and a strong run, outpacing several cover defenders. In this backline play, started off by scrumhalf Kim Gilmore and flyhalf Emily King, everyone touched the ball down the line until Kein took things in stride. The experience gained today is invaluable for their future learning and success.