Sometimes in a matchup of David and Goliath, the big guy comes out on top.
Boston College had nothing to stop the Harvard women’s rugby team as the Crimson (7-3) cruised to a 105-0 routing of the Eagles at Cumnock Field on Saturday afternoon.
“We took the [game as an] opportunity to work on a lot of things,” co-captain Ali Haber said. “Some of them went really well, and some didn’t go as well as we would have hoped. There were some awesome things about the game, and there were some drawbacks, which would not necessarily be apparent from the score.”
Less than two minutes into the contest, junior Lenica Morales-Valenzuela put Harvard up, 5-0. Possessions later, classmate Cheta Emba added back-to-back scores of her own, and the varsity squad found itself up, 17-0, against its club opponent with less than 10 minutes gone by.
Co-captain Xanni Brown scored twice within the span of three minutes, and conversions on both tries by senior Shelby Lin ran the score up to 31-0, still within the first 20 minutes of the contest.
Boston College could barely muster its offense past midfield, as the Harvard defense squandered much of its momentum. The Crimson added another try when sophomore Lydia Burns scored off a pass from Brown. Emba added two more scores for a total of four tries in the first half. In the final minute of the first frame, freshman Caroline Park ran in a try—the first score of her Harvard career—to give the Crimson a 60-0 advantage going into intermission.
Heading into the break with such a large lead, Harvard coach Sue Parker nonetheless emphasized the importance of sticking to the game plan and executing at the point of contact.
“Our standards for our own play should be absolute,” Parker said. “The team understands that the standards of our play and our performance are absolute and shouldn’t suffer, whether we are winning by 60 points or losing by the same margin…. It’s easy to play down to an opponent, but for us to be the type of team we aspire to be, we can never let that happen.”
In the final forty minutes of play, Harvard continued to mount its offensive charge, while working on improving its defensive play as well.
“One thing we did work on a lot and approve on was our aggression on offense,” Haber said. “That was a point of improvement for us, and we did a pretty good job of working on blowing through their defense. But the other thing we needed to work on was explosive defense, and…we could have taken better advantage of [this] game to work on that more."
The Crimson also used the contest as an opportunity to give its rookies some valuable playing time.
“We could not be more happy with how [the freshmen] played, and not only how they played, but the time they got on the field [against the Eagles],” Parker said. “They were absolutely great being thrown into a varsity-level game like that, many of who had not had a lot of previous minutes in live-game situations. We are extremely pleased with how the freshmen played on the day, and that bodes well for us going forward through the season and in the future as well.”
Freshmen Claire Collins and Mariah Turner both registered their first tries for the Crimson on Saturday.
Parker also praised the efforts of rookies Maryssa Barron and Gabrielle Wilson amongst the forwards.
“[They] really helped out in the forwards with their extreme work ethic and productive work in supporting ball carriers and being ball carriers themselves,” Parker said.
By the end of regulation, Harvard had amassed its largest margin of victory of the season, surpassing the previous mark of an 84-0 routing of Yale last fall. But even with the dominant win, Parker noted some shortcomings that will need to be addressed before the Crimson hits the road to take on a very different opponent, No. 1 Penn State, in less than a week.
“I was pleased that we made some improvements at the point of contact, [but] on the other hand, we didn’t do it as consistently as I would have liked across the entire 80-minute game,” Parker said. “That’s a point of improvement for us going into next weekend.”
—Staff writer Brenna R. Nelsen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CrimsonBRN.