Women’s Rugby Defeats Amherst in Home Opener

By Tom Clayton

The Middlebury College Women’s Rugby Club (MCWRC) shut out visiting Amherst 36-0 on Saturday, Sept. 29. The home match, played on a soggy field under windy skies, was the MCWRC’s first win in three tries this fall.

The side held Amherst scoreless, and improved its record to 1-2.

“Our effectiveness on defense led to many successful counterattacking plays where the organization of the forwards allowed quick and controlled passes out to the backs,” Emily Duh ’14 said.

Duh completed a hat trick with a try in the final seconds of play after captain Jess Berry ’13 intercepted the ball which, in the ensuing confusion, found its way into Duh’s hands. Duh then ran it under the uprights for her third try of the afternoon. Berry converted the kick to cement the score at 36-0.

“Duh’s performance was essential to our win,” said Berry. “Her try in the final seconds of the game demonstrates the intensity the entire team played with throughout all 80 minutes of play, up until the final whistle blew, which is something we’ve strived for all season.”

The potency of the offense was the result of a concerted effort to force the opponent back at heel, and to free runners like Duh on the outside.

“Offensively, we have been working on changing our angles of attack and taking the ball at pace,” said Coach K.O. Onufry.

A shifty runner, the outside center Duh cut through the Amherst pack at will. Her three tries provided MCWRC with 15 points, while six points came off the foot of the scrum half Berry. Inside center Laura Hoffman ’15 broke a series of tackles for her first career try to round out the scoring.

“Our captain led the team in focus and intensity right from the kick-off through to the final whistle,” Onufry said.

MCWRC fell in a season opening scrimmage against St. Michael’s Sept. 15, and then again to Colby, 26-5, in Waterville, Maine on Sept. 22. Despite the loss, the team carried home the momentum from last week’s strong second half against Colby. It was enough to blow away Amherst on home turf.

“In our past two games, we struggled with slow starts, which allowed the opposition to gain large enough leads so that we were left playing catch-up,” said Duh.

After dominating Amherst, MCWRC hopes to secure their position as a force in the NESCAC women’s rugby league in the coming weeks. The women play Tufts this weekend at home, followed by a home match against Bowdoin Oct. 13.

“This win was an important one for us not only in that it was our first of the season,” said Duh, “but also in that each player on the field gave it their all from the get-go.”

The coming matches at home will test  MCWRC against the two strongest teams in the NESCAC.

“We are going to have two tough games at home,” said Berry.

The challenge of the next fortnight also poses a great opportunity for MCWRC, as two victories will lift them over the .500 mark on the season, and  gives them a chance to compete for the conference title. The top four teams in the NESCAC qualify for the postseason.

The MCWRC side have qualified for the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.