On Friday night, midway through the second half, the scoreboard displayed a score of 00-0. The No. 7 Harvard Radcliffe women’s rugby team (2-1-0) had already scored 100 points against Mt. St. Mary’s (0-0-3), enough to reset the scoreboard. The Crimson would go on to score 30 more points to win 130-0. The margin of victory was the greatest in program history. Despite the chilly weather, Harvard maintained a fiery intensity throughout both halves of action.
“We knew we were going to be playing a few players down,” sophomore flyhalf Delia Hellander said, “because they didn’t have enough players to match us, but we just wanted to focus on our game plan and practice on our patterns and execute it well.”
The Crimson overpowered the Mountaineers from the opening kick-off. Freshman Milan Roberts swiftly cut through the defense for a try within the first five minutes, and Harvard never looked back.
For the rest of the half, the Crimson maintained a huge advantage in possession time, countering any offensive attempt by Mt. St. Mary’s with stringent defense and strong tackling. The Mountaineers struggled to take down the streaking Harvard players with large portions of the half played near Mt. St. Mary’s goal area. The Crimson’s moved the ball efficiently allowing various players to sprint down the field.
“I think we’re a really physically dominant team,” senior captain Maya Learned said, “and our passes were really, really crisp and played our game for pretty much the entire game, and it was really great.”
Harvard’s impassable defense paved the wave for a high-octane offense, which notched a total of nine tries in the first half, jolting the Crimson to an impressive 55-0 at half-time. Junior Caitlin Weigel accumulated three tries in the first half, including one off a blocked kick, epitomizing the Harvard’s ability to turn defense into offense.
Although with the clear advantage going into the second half, the Crimson did not let up and instead raised the intensity of its play even higher.
“I would say it’s getting better with every rep,” Learned said, “every kickoff, every time you score, the next time is going to be better than that, so I think that’s a big part of our team; we talk about that going from game to game, practice to practice, just getting better.”
Five different players scored a combined five tries within the first 15 minutes of the half, increasing the score to 88-0. Harvard was relentless, never giving up an inch to its opponents and allowing some of its newer players to shine.
“So, we actually put in a few of our newer players,” Hellander said, “We had a few walk-ons debut in the first game, just getting them into the pattern play and we still executed well. We still had some of our leaders on the field who helped lead them and guide them, and we just powered through.”
The Crimson surpassed the 100 point mark mid-way through the second half and continued to pile on tries, accumulating a total of 20 over the course of the game. When the horn sounded at the conclusion of the match, the score rested at 130-0, Harvard’s most lopsided win in its history.
With many players performing well, Learned placed special praise on sophomore Dominique Cantave.
“She’s awesome on offense, but she’s willing to put in the big hits on defense,” Learned said. “In a game like this, when it’s easy to get complacent, so that’s what you look for, that heart in a player.”
Even though it’s easy to become comfortable with its success, the team is only looking ahead and working to improve with every game.
“We’re looking forward to our Ivy League Games,” Learned said. “The biggest game of our season will definitely be Dartmouth and so we just build and build to that and Ivy Championships.”
—Contributing writer Leon Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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