Sports

Rugby makes history by downing Harvard in opener

In Ivy League’s first varsity rugby match, Bears come out on top thanks to a strong second-half effort

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, September 15, 2014

In its breakout performance as a varsity squad, the women’s rugby team aimed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it is worthy of its status, defeating a historically strong Harvard team 24-15. The victory came at the expense of the reigning Ivy champions and places Brown at the head of Ivy competition for 2014.

In the first-ever matchup of two varsity Ivy rugby teams, the squad felt the pressure to be on “the right side of history,” as its coaches, athletic director and captains reminded them. “It’s hard not to feel the pressure when it’s the first of anything,” said co-captain Tiara Mack ’16.

The Bears did not disappoint.

In front of a capacity crowd in Cambridge, the team battled the Crimson neck-and-neck for the majority of play. The Bears pulled ahead early, stealing the ball off a Harvard fumble 15 minutes into play. The squad scored three minutes later for the first try and conversion of the game to go up 7-0. Co-captain Oksana Goretaya ’17 led the way for Bruno with the first points of the season, and Sofia Rudin ’17 earned two extra on the conversion.

Five minutes later, the Crimson responded with a try of its own. But they failed to convert, allowing the Bears to maintain a slim 7-5 lead. With 10 minutes left in the half, Harvard notched another try to gain a 10-7 lead. But Saskia Morgan ’16 forced a try off a Crimson turnover to recover a narrow 12-10 advantage at the midpoint.

The second half initiated another lead change, as Harvard scored its last try of the game. But its inability to convert the two once again meant Brown trailed by only three.

In the last 10 minutes of play, Bruno pulled ahead for the final time and marked its place in the history books as the winner of the first varsity rugby contest in the Ivy League.

Amber Reano ’16 spearheaded the late campaign by making a run up the middle to score a try. Morgan followed with her own strike to widen Bruno’s lead to the largest margin of the game, 24-15, with five minutes left in regulation.

“Once (Reano) broke through and made that amazing try, … we said, ‘Whoa, we have this game, this is our game,’” Mack said.

“It was definitely a hard 80 minutes,” Mack said. “At one point they were up, at one point we were up.”

Bruno was lucky in avoiding concussions Saturday, but Harvard suffered a few during the game. “It was nice to get out of the game with the win and know there were no serious injuries,” said Kathryn Graves ’15. Bruno lost starting flanker May Siu ’15 to a concussion earlier this week, so flexibility was key.

The Bears did lose some ground during the game on penalties, which is a point they hope to improve on going forward.

Bruno will be on the road next weekend, facing Penn in Philadelphia on Saturday.

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