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Women's rugby's second varsity season ends with NCVWRA quarterfinal loss

Banged-up Bears let first-half lead slip away against AIC in quaterfinal game of inaugural tournament

Though it played host to the first-ever National Collegiate Varsity Women’s Rugby Association tournament Saturday, the women’s rugby team fell 27-19 to American International College in the quarterfinals.

“I know we didn’t win the match, but I was so proud of our players for the way that they played,” said Head Coach Kathy Flores.

The team was depleted by injuries from the previous week’s Ivy League tournament, in which Bruno (6-4, 4-2 Ivy) lost in the title game to Dartmouth.

The Yellow Jackets (4-4, 3-3) and the Bears traded tries early on, with Kiki Morgan ’16 scoring for Brown.

AIC broke the tie with a try from Dominique Cammock, but Bruno answered back once again. Lauren Oxendine ’16 knotted things up at 10, and Rebecca Dahle ’16 converted the kick to give Brown a 12-10 lead, which it carried into halftime.

“In the first half, we executed everything we had to,” said co-captain Tiara Mack ’16.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were a physical stalemate before Anna Mbengam put the Yellow Jackets on top with a try.

Leading up to this match, Morgan and Uzoamaka Okoro ’16 had emerged as Bruno’s most explosive players. Morgan noticeably fought injury during the match, coming up from tackles limping on multiple occasions, while AIC largely held Okoro in check.

Without the two producing much offense, AIC was able to dominate possession and punch in two more tries to bring the score up to 27-12. The script was all too familiar to the Bears, who lost in similar fashion in the Ivy title game after Dartmouth rattled off 19 unanswered points in the second half.

Co-captain Oksana Goretaya ’17 emphasized how AIC’s long varsity history and tougher in-season schedule made them a tough opponent. “Once you start facing teams that have been established for a while, you see them a lot more disciplined,” she said.

Morgan converted a long try in the final minutes of the game to bring the score to 27-19. She had to be helped off the field after the long run, finally succumbing to her nagging injury after a valiant performance. Flores said Morgan hurt her neck and back due to a high tackle.

Despite the disappointing end, Bruno pushed through a lot of adversity in a successful second varsity campaign.

“We had people playing positions they had never played before. We had people starting who had never started before,” Mack said. “A lot of people stepped up, and watching that happen was honestly amazing.”

Flores also highlighted the team’s versatility in the face of injuries.

“For mixing up the team the way we had to due to injuries, we actually were playing very well,” she said. “It was everybody trying to do their best, but not necessarily playing the position they were used to playing.”

“It was a learning year for us,” Goretaya said. “We were very good at adjusting, but because we were adjusting all the time, we weren’t really able to solidify anything on the field.”

The team also got to be a part of a memorable moment by hosting the inaugural NCVWRA tournament.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” Flores said of the tournament.

“The people who have been here last year and this year have been fortunate enough to experience history,” Goretaya said, noting the team’s undefeated first season as a varsity program and the chance to compete in the NCVWRA tournament this year.

“At the end of the day, I couldn’t have asked for a better season to end with,” Mack said.


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