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Rugby Routs Cornell, 91-0

By Ariel Smolik-Valles, Crimson Staff Writer

Since its only loss of the season on Oct. 1, the Harvard women’s rugby team (5-1, 3-1 Ivy League) has scored 149 points. As a comparison, its opponents in those same two games have mustered up five points against the Crimson defense.

This weekend, Harvard’s unlucky opponent was Cornell (3-1, 2-1), as the Crimson went on to defeat the Big Red 91-0 in Cambridge this Saturday afternoon.

Harvard came out rolling on all cylinders as sophomore Genevieve Quirion scored the team’s first try of the match. From that point on, the Crimson never looked back, as the score piled up to 53-0 by the end of the first half.

“It’s really important for our team mentality and the way we want to play [to score first],” freshman Emily Prentice said. “We want to come out on our front foot and play aggressively and it’s a good way to set the tone on the way the rest of the game is going to go and it’s proved itself on Saturday that we were successful in our games.”

Prentice led Harvard with four tries on the game, recording a natural hat trick with three straight in the first half. She also contributed multiple assists in the tries of a few other teammates throughout the game.

The freshmen class had a strong showing in the contest, as first year Delia Hellander put it multiple tries of her own, setting a career-high of three scores. Sophomore Caitlin Weigel had a day of her own, as she scored for the sixth consecutive game. As the Crimson continued to add to its lead, its offense was able to expand, opening up the opportunity for different players to see the pitch and a greater variety of players to be run.

“We were able to get a lot of our newer girls onto the pitch and people were playing in different positions that they haven’t played in years in some cases,” Weigel said. “Scoring helps us try new things, which can only be beneficial in the long run.”

When all was said and done, eight different Harvard players contributed to the scoring effort including freshman Dominique Cantave, sophomore Rahcel Harkvay, junior Taci Periera, and senior Claire Collins.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Crimson was able to record its second shut out of the season, with the first coming on Sept. 17th against the University of New England. With Harvard’s defense holding its opponents to an average of 7.7 points per game, both sides of the ball have contributed to the team’s dominance among Ivy League play.

“Shutting out teams is a huge testament to the work we’ve put in on the defensive side,” Weigel said. “Defense is so hard, you’re constantly running and constantly talking and being able to post a shut out is a testament to how hard we’ve been working.”

Saturday’s win closed out the regular season for the Crimson, concluding the best fall the program has ever seen. Harvard now stands at the second tier in Ivy League standings, second only to undefeated Dartmouth. And with the playoffs looming in two weeks, the Crimson is hoping to avenge its lone loss in the postseason.

“After the Dartmouth game we really knew we could play better and our potential was so much higher and being able to take that mentality back to practice and see our hard work pay off these past two games has been really rewarding,” Prentice said. “[Going into the postseason] we want to build on top of our momentum and solidify the structure we’ve been playing in. We’re going to have a big defensive emphasis and play off of the team’s we’re playing and using our strength on offense to be able to capitalize on that.”

—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at ariel.smolik-valles@thecrimson.com.

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