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The Harvard women’s rugby team (3-1, 1-1 Ivy League) saw its first three games pass with a large amount of charm, outscoring its opponents 131-22 over the course of the opening few weeks of the season.
The fourth game, however, the team did not encounter the same amount of success, falling to fellow Ivy foe Dartmouth (4-1, 3-0) on Saturday in its second straight conference match-up. Despite Harvard having the ability to control the ball for a majority of the game, the Crimson ultimately fell to the Big Green, 22-19, for its first loss of the season.
“Yesterday’s game was a wake up call for us,” junior Maya Learned said. “It was definitely the hardest competition we’ve had the whole season. Some of our players felt pretty down about it but we have to look forward and only improve from here.”
Despite trailing 12-0 in the opening half of play, Harvard was able to mount a comeback that brought the team within five late in the first period following a try and a successful conversion, putting seven point on the board for the visitors.
Early in the second half Dartmouth grew its lead to double digits, pulling ahead 17-7 before the Crimson once again brought the lead within five. The defensive effort from the Big Green was strong, keeping Harvard’s offense at bay and forcing multiple turnovers throughout the course of play.
“Dartmouth has a really strong pressure defense so even when we did have the ball we were under a lot of pressure and getting pushed back but I think our forwards were really strong and our set pieces were really strong and we were able to win the ball back after a lot of turnovers,” senior Claire Collins said. “There was a lot of back and forth on the field and we were able to play where we wanted to play in their attacking end, but their fast defense made it hard for us to execute our game plan.”
Dartmouth’s offense was headed by freshman Isabel Boettcher, who scored three tries in the game.
Late in the second half, the Crimson was able to mount a comeback on the pitch, scoring a try and converting in the 77th minute of play that brought the team within three points of the hosts. The Big Green defense was able to hold strong for the final three minutes of the game, as the score stood at 22-19 in the books.
“I felt like we had a very strong chance of winning, we just didn’t capitalize on tops of the little things in our plays and it cost us but… I think they [Dartmouth] had very different strengths that our team,” Learned said. “They have very different strengths in their backs and we have strengths in our forwards which makes it come out to very different forms of play.”
—Staff writer Ariel Smolik-Valles can be reached at email@example.com.
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