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No. 1 Harvard Women’s Rugby Remains Undefeated Through Historic Play from London and Co.

Harvard women's rugby tussles with the Brown in its 48-14 Ivy-opener win over the Bears on Saturday, Sept. 30. The Crimson will next face Princeton on Oct. 14 in New Jersey.
Harvard women's rugby tussles with the Brown in its 48-14 Ivy-opener win over the Bears on Saturday, Sept. 30. The Crimson will next face Princeton on Oct. 14 in New Jersey. By Cory K. Gorczycki
By Nate M. Bolan, Contributing Writer

On the back of an outstanding second-half shutout that saw Harvard women’s rugby (5-0, 1-0 Ivy League) score seven unanswered tries against Brown (2-2, 0-1) in a 48-14 victory, Harvard is now undefeated in NCAA play for the first time since 2021. This win gives the Crimson a seven-game winning streak in 15s, the style of play done in the fall season. Additionally, Harvard now holds a score differential of 280–38 through just five games.

The first half grew the match closer down the stretch. Yet, three tries from sophomore wing and flank Lennox London and another 13 points scored off four conversions and a try from sophomore fullback and scrumhalf Skylar Jordan put the Crimson in the lead.

In the span of just minutes, beginning with 28:51 left on the clock, London scored her first try before sophomore center and fullback Tiahna Padilla found fellow sophomore outside back Cameron Fields for five. A converted kick put Harvard ahead 29-7.

London later intercepted a Brown pass on a drive that looked to yield points, rushing down the sideline. Another conversion from Jordan furthered the lead, making it a 43-7 game.

In its first game on home turf against American International College (0-1, now 2-1 on the season), Harvard posted a 65-0 shutout that saw 12 different players score points. “[It] felt really good, especially as a home opener,” London said. “[I]t was just fun to showcase what [the team has] been trying to implement with our freshmen.”

“Our main goal for the season and our main mantra is just building every game. Each weekend playing better than before,” London continued. “I thought that playing AIC was a great build-off of [how] we played Quinnipiac University the week before.”

Since its earlier matchup against Quinnipiac (0-1, now 2-2 on the season) in Hamden, Conn., offensive and defensive production have improved after Harvard’s 55-14 victory. Quinnipiac’s 14 points were scored in the final ten minutes of regulation —a defensive meltdown that the AIC matchup remedied. Within the first five minutes of that game, London and Padilla both scored tries. After a conversion, the score grew to 12-0 in the first ten minutes.

First-year fly half and center Maya Hilger helped carry the team to the finish line, putting up her first two tries of the season late in the second half, with earlier contributions from senior back row Charlotte Gilmour and center and flyhalf PK Vincze, who started out the second half scoring.

Following the AIC game, Harvard now firmly holds the all-time 15s series, with two wins in three matchups.

Despite the historic season, the team still wants to control the play. “We are our own opponents if we can get out of our headspace and play our game," London said.

London, who, after Harvard’s most recent win against Brown, now has back-to-back hat tricks and is tied for tries scored this season, alongside Fields.

For London, part of keeping a clear head while playing means not making scoring an individual or team goal. She thinks it should come naturally. “If I just do my job correctly, all the girls who do the work in the middle [do their job correctly], and then I am just there to kind of put it down at the end — I see [the scoring] more as their work.”

Continuing to play at such a high level means playing each game one at a time. But that is easier said than done, London explains, especially off the field. In identifying what keys to moving forward throughout the season are, she remarked, “Right now, with midterms coming around, it is taking care of ourselves just mentally and physically, so we are still ready to go by the time November hits.”

Having an undefeated record has made staying fresh and prepared all the more easy.

“I feel that each week we’ve had very specific things we want to implement into the next game, and we’ve done that, so it is cool to see that because at certain levels you can say you want to do stuff in a game, but when the time comes around you never do,” London added.

With sights set on postseason play, the ability to drastically shift what has not been working and incorporate newer players into schemes, regardless of the opponent, will prove helpful in combating the struggles London identified. These shifts can also help the team with different game situations they will face as pressure on both sides of the ball ramps up.

Harvard will next face off against No. 11 Princeton on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 12:00 p.m. EST in Princeton, N.J., at West Windsor Rugby Field. Princeton, who most recently played AIC, will need to make a turnaround in scrambling back from a 46-14 loss, which saw a single try and conversion scored for Princeton in each half. Harvard, in coming off a bye week, must find ways to keep up the energy they have had all season and maintain the dominance that built them their undefeated record.

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