“We knew it would be a tough West Chester team,” Parker said. “It took us the first 30 minutes to shake the rust off of the four-month layoff and get ourselves organized around ball retention around the rucks and the tackles. After we did that, we were able to employ our game plan.”
Heading into the second period, Parker emphasized the need for Harvard to execute its passes and tackles, even in the cold temperatures.
“[We needed to] get over the fear of that contact piece of the game,” Parker said. “In the first period, [it was] a total mess anytime around a tackle. In the second period, they started to execute.”
Despite pressure at both ends of the field, neither side could capitalize on its offensive opportunities for much of the second period. A kick attempt by West Chester went awry eight minutes into the period. A few minutes later, junior Cheta Emba broke away and darted past the Rams line into the try zone. Attempting to position the ball for a better look at the conversion, Emba stepped out of the back of the try zone before touching the ball to the ground, and her score was waved off.
But the Crimson finally put more points on the board when co-captain Xanni Brown ran in a try with four minutes left in the period to extend Harvard’s lead to 12-5. The Crimson added another score in the final minutes to close out a 17-5 win.
“Today was a really good day for a lot of things,” Brown said. “We got to see a lot of players play. We got to get our first taste of rugby for the spring. I think there are a lot of ways in which we are still dipping our toes in, but there were some things that went really well. We brought a lot of intensity.”
After the first 60 minutes of play, both teams fielded their B-side lineups for a 30-minute scrimmage, giving novice players some on-field action.
Brown said that the win against West Chester will give Harvard confidence as it continues on its spring schedule, with home games against American International College and Boston College lined up in the coming weeks, all in preparation for the national championships at the end of April.
“This is our first non-Ivy League game since the beginning of the fall,” Brown said. “This is us making a statement hopefully outside of the Ivy League. That’s where we have our eyes set on competing. It’s good to come out here and get a win against a good regional team.”
—Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonBRN.