Sports

Women’s rugby earns top regional seed with spotless record

Bears, needing two wins to qualify for national championships, draw Navy in first round

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, November 14, 2014

After coasting through their regular season schedule, the Bears have a chance to prove themselves on a larger scale in the regional tournament.

Capturing the Ivy title was just the first step in the women’s rugby team’s journey through postseason play.

The squad will travel to Poughkeepsie, New York, this weekend to compete as the number one seed at American Collegiate Rugby Association Regionals, vying for a spot in December’s Final Four tournament in Florida. Regionals include four brackets with four teams in each to form the Round of 16. Teams from the Naval Academy, Military Academy and Quinnipiac University will join Bruno as it jousts for the top regional spot.

Brown and Dartmouth are the only Ivy teams represented in the various ACRA regional tournaments, so the Bears should expect to face tougher opponents in the Regionals than they did in Ivy play. The team will open the weekend against Navy, a competitor it downed just three weeks ago. At the time, Bruno anticipated facing a tougher physical threat from Navy than from Ivy foes, but the Bears capitalized on offensive momentum to overcome the Midshipmen’s extra athleticism and aggression in order to notch a blowout. Still, the 46-12 victory was Bruno’s third-closest game of the season, and Navy will undoubtedly seek to avenge this loss Saturday.

In the teams’ last bout, the Bears relied on a diverse group of scorers to break through Navy’s solid defense. Seven different players got points on the board against the Midshipmen, illustrating Brown’s depth and vexing Navy to no end. Kiki Morgan ’16 has proved to be one of these formidable threats to opposing defenses this season, scoring at least one try in every game. But facing a stronger-than-usual defense in Navy, the Bears had to use offensive weapons other than Morgan, who scored only two tries in the contest. These included co-captains Oksana Goretaya ’17 and Tiara Mack ’16, as well as an accomplished Sofia Rudin ’17, who has consistently converted extra points this season.

If Brown triumphs over Navy, it will face the winner of the Army-Quinnipiac matchup. Quinnipiac beat Army 50-17 at the start of its season, though that is by no means an accurate predictor of this weekend’s game. The Bobcats pounded Navy just two weeks ago, coming away with a commanding 80-point margin on the victory and proving just how competitive they can be. Additionally, two-time All-American Natalie Kosko, a clear standout for Quinnipiac, poses a dangerous offensive threat.

Army also defeated Navy this year, downing the team 61-20. This means every squad in the tournament has beat the Midshipmen this season, seeming to make them the obvious underdog. But nothing is that clear in rugby, as just last year Navy reached the Final Four. Army also made it to the championship tournament, losing in the finals after a tantalizingly close match up. This will only serve as extra incentive to stay focused on that cherished top spot this time around.

But the Bears, too, have been eyeing that title all season and see this weekend as another stepping stone on their quest for perfection. Brown got this far last year, but did not advance beyond the Round of 16. This year, they hope, will be a different story.

Topics: