Women's Rugby Falls in Opening Round of USA Rugby Division II Championship
BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College women's rugby team lost its opening-round match in the Division 2 USA Rugby College Championship Tournament on Saturday to American International College, 36-21.
Coach Mathew's Report:
It was a game of contrasts: A.I.C. had a very large, overpowering pack and scrumhalf whose game plan was to crash the ball upfield with hard running and support. Bowdoin had a number of strategies for set pieces and open play to contain this mismatch, and they worked effectively throughout the game, but in the end, they couldn't deny enough possession of the ball to enable them to play their strategic open field kicking/running style of attack.
When they had possession of the ball, in the backline it was a different story, as the Polar Bears outwitted and outplayed their opponents with a strong kick & chase game, and relentless pressure from all seven backs and loose forwards.
Bowdoin's kicking game was highly successful when utilized, with excellent tactical kicking by flyhalf Emily Athanas-Linden and inside center Emily King. With the speed of Maura Allen and the back three, Charlotte Kleiman, Anna Piotti and co-captain Kerry Townsend, they kept the pressure on AIC and forced their backline into all kinds of trouble, scoring three times. All three tries were converted by Randi London'15, and Bowdoin held a 21-17 lead 3/4's of the way through the match.
Bowdoin's forwards, led by example from co-captain Uche Esonu'13, played hard against a big forward pack led by USA National Team player and #8 Rebecca Davis. Esonu, Randi London'15, Samantha Caras'15, and their teammates more than held their own for 66 minutes with a consistent hard line of defense when AIC was finally able to power over 3 tries in the last 14 minutes. Maura Allen, flyhalf Emily Athanas-Linden'15, wing Anna Piotti'16 and fullback Kerry Townsend showcased some hard-nosed tackles and helped lead the defensive efforts of the cohesive and sharp backline.
AIC capitalized on an early mistake, and ran an easy penalty in for a try (converted) in the first 5 minutes. Bowdoin responded two minutes later with a converted try of their own off a well-placed kick by Athanas-Linden from a scrum 30 meters out. The AIC fullback couldn't handle the ball under the Bowdoin backline pressure, and a hard-charging Athanas-Linden pounced on the ball in the end zone for the score. Score tie 7-7.
Bowdoin's second score was perhaps the most rewarding of the year, as evidenced by the teamwork, communication and skill that created the 7 points to take the lead. The Bowdoin pack won the scrum behind their own 40 meter line and the ball was fed from scrumhalf Anita Shah to flyhalf Athanas-Linden who started the backline in motion. Feeding the ball from King to Townsend, the fullback used her speed, footwork, fends and a ball fake to break through the primary and secondary defenses. In close support, Maura Allen took the offload pass for more yardage, supported well by Kleiman and London. Finally, Athanas-Linden took the last offload pass from Allen and sprinted the final 15 meters into the try zone. London converted for a 14-12 lead. Bowdoin's final try, scored in the 2nd half, was a clever backline kick and chase again, resulting in Bowdoin regaining possession and flipping the ball to a streaking Townsend, who outpaced her opponents to touch the ball down under the posts. London converted the try once again, for 2 additional points.
The Polar Bears will now resume a more typical spring season of 'friendly' matches and round-robin tournaments primarily devoted to developing new players and getting game experience for everyone. Bowdoin will travel to Dartmouth College next Saturday for a round-robin with Dartmouth and Middlebury. For more information about joining Bowdoin Women's Rugby, contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org