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On a blustery day in Hamden, Conn., gusts of offense from the Quinnipiac women’s rugby team proved decisive, as the Bobcats claimed a trio of rugby sevens matches over Harvard. The event, which honored Austin Hill, a teenager with cystic fibrosis, represented the Crimson’s final chance at fine-tuning before the Ivy League Sevens Championships two weeks from now.
“We’re shaking off the cobwebs,” co-captain Brooke Kantor said. “We’re still trying to learn the game of sevens…[and] work out the kinks in our plan.”
QUINNIPIAC A-SIDE 27, HARVARD A-SIDE 21
The scorecard may have read Harvard versus Quinnipiac, but for the majority of the first game of the day, play reflected a different sort of competition. Call it Cheta Emba versus the world.
In the first half, Emba, a senior for Harvard, put the visitors up 14-9 with a pair of tries and conversions that came within three minutes of each other. Then, with the score close midway through the second period, Emba contributed another score to push the Crimson ahead yet again.
“When she decides the team is going to score a try, she makes it happen,” Kantor said. “She is an extreme competitor…It’s that intensity that makes her so successful on the rugby field and is also something that I hope can be inspiring to other players.”
However, the single-woman effort fell short, as the Bobcats converted two late tries to saddle Emba and company with a 27-21 defeat.
Quinnipiac struck first in both halves. In the first period, a score in the first minute gave the Bobcats a 5-0 advantage; in the second period, the hosts ran the ball back off the opening kickoff to erase a 14-9 halftime deficit.
Yet the score remained close until the final minutes, when Quinnipiac erased a late Harvard lead with two final tries.
“Quinnipiac is a longstanding varsity team,” Harvard coach Sue Parker said. “We showed we could outmatch them for stretches at times.”
QUINNIPIAC A-SIDE 46, HARVARD A-SIDE 5
In the opening minutes of play, the second A-side match of the game seemed destined to be a copy of the first.
Just like in the earlier contest, the Bobcats had built an early advantage—this time 12-0; just like last time, Emba had responded with a score that had sliced into the deficit.
But in this game, Quinnipiac had no appetite for late drama. The Bobcats ran through the second half with five straight tries and earned a 46-5 victory.
Quinnipiac senior Shannon Durkin set the tone at the beginning of the second period by taking the kickoff back 50 yards for a try. Durkin had also scored at the end of the first half to distance the Bobcats from the Crimson.
However impressive this midgame streak appeared, the most impressive Quinnipiac score of the day was likely the first one, when all-American Natalie Kosko shrugged off a pair of tackles and landed a tough stiff arm en route to a 20-yard gallop.
“Quinnipiac’s a great team,” Kantor said. “They played very well.”
QUINNIPIAC B-SIDE 39, HARVARD B-SIDE 0
In the team’s sole event of the afternoon, the Bobcats B-side scored early and often, cruising to a 39-0 victory over Harvard.
On Quinnipiac’s team, freshman Lillian Weldon starred. In the second half, she tallied three consecutive scores to turn the shutout into a blowout. Senior Raechel Stimson also contributed a pair of tries for the Bobcats.
Despite the lopsided score, the match provided the Crimson with an opportunity to familiarize newer players with the sevens rugby format. Even more veteran Harvard players lacked much sevens experience, as the team plays full-sided games in the fall.
Moreover, several first-time players have joined the Crimson team, some as recently as after spring break.
“We have a lot of new players out there,” Kantor said. “Despite what the scoreboard says, their demonstration of what they’ve been able to absorb…bodes really well for our future.”
—Staff writer Sam Danello can be reached at email@example.com.
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