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Following a fourth-place outcome at the Ivy League sevens championship, the Harvard women’s rugby team came into the American Collegiate Rugby Association National Championships looking to finish the season on a high note. The tournament also marked the last competition for eight seniors.
“I’ve never been surrounded by so many inspiring, talented, and truly genuine people,” graduating co-captain Kaleigh Henry said. “I attribute my immensely positive college experience mostly to them [and] my family.”
While the Crimson earned a spot in the final-four playoff, Harvard ended the weekend with a pair of losses to finish fourth.
AIC 20, HARVARD 12
When the Crimson offense started moving in the second half, it moved quickly.
Trailing 20-0, Harvard used scores from seniors Henry and Cheta Emba to shrink the deficit to eight. But the score would hold from there, as the Crimson fell, 20-12.
The Yellow Jackets scored off the opening kickoff and went on to take a 15-0 lead over the Crimson at the half. This lead grew, thanks to a score early in the second half.
“I am extremely proud,” senior Brooke Kantor said. “We played at our highest level. I do know that [a lot of the time], our nerves get the better of us.”
ARMY 19, HARVARD 7
Playing for a second time against Army, the Crimson defense struggled early on, allowing the Black Knights to score on three tries.
Coming into the second half of the semifinal match down 19-0, the Harvard defense brought about a stalemate in scoring, with no team recording a try for the first several minutes.
Then an Emba try broke the equilibrium and reenergized the Crimson side.
“The biggest adjustment was probably our mentality,” said Henry. “We came into the tournament focused and ready to fight. Bringing in that tenacious attitude really helped us compete.”
However, Harvard got no closer, as both defenses held to preserve the 19-7 final.
HARVARD 26, NAVY 5
After scoring in the opening minutes, Harvard faced a second-half rally from Navy, which fired back with a try of its own.
Then Emba got the ball in her hands. Over the rest of the match, the senior tacked on two more scores to help her team to a 26-5 win and a spot in the four-team playoff.
Fighting elimination in its first Sunday matchup, the Crimson had jumped to a 14-0 lead before the half before taking the win.
NORWICH 24, HARVARD 7
Heading into its final match of Saturday against the Cadets, the Crimson looked to earn some redemption by picking up its first victory of the day.
Instead, Norwich’s offense overwhelmed Harvard, creating an early lead and holding it until the final whistle. Thanks to a pair of tries from Sophie Mundell and Victoria Olchowoj, the Cadets took control in the opening minutes.
Meanwhile the Crimson offense never got going and tallied a lone score.
AIC 17, HARVARD 7
When Harvard took the field against AIC to start the second half of Saturday’s matchup, the game belonged to either team, with the score knotted at seven-apiece.
Then the Yellow Jackets began to swarm. In the second period of play, AIC earned the victory, holding the Crimson without a try while notching two of its own to claim a 17-7 win.
The Yellow Jackets opened the first half in an emphatic fashion, converting a full-field break to take a 7-0 lead. But Harvard responded in the final minutes of the half, with Muss sprinting for a late try.
ARMY 24, HARVARD 12
Late in a game of momentum shifts, the contest seemed to have swung back into the Crimson’s control.
After building and losing an early lead, Harvard shot out of intermission with a score to close the gap to 19-12. However, the momentum fell back one more time, as Army ran for a successful try to race to a 24-12 victory.
“I’m incredibly proud of the team,” Henry said. “We made huge strides [this] weekend in terms of our individual and team play.”
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