This past weekend the women’s rugby team established themselves as a dominant club sports presence on campus by winning the Division III Minnesota Rugby Union State Championship. The 12-5 win over the powerhouse team of North Dakota State University capped the team’s undefeated season in style.
The rainy atmosphere at the home fields of the Minnesota Banshees Rugby Club in Eagan, Minnesota set the tone for a tough, dirty game. The game unfolded ferociously, with an abundance of rough forwards play. Carleton’s Christi Conkling ’09 scored the first try of the game towards the end of the first half, which was then converted by Colleen Tjosvold ’11 for seven points. It seemed like NDSU might make a comeback when they scored a try early in the second half, but a second Carleton try by Claire Liepmann ’09 put the game to rest at 12-5.
“It was a rough game…they had a lot of size on us,” observed forwards co-captain Mal Hoffman, ’08. “The forwards had a lot of trouble maintaining possession because they were so big, but we always made the tackles,” she added.
“They were like three times our size,” emphasized backs captain Sam Nakata, ’08. However, the team, led by an excellent running performance from Sarah Ball, was able to use its speed to beat out its opponents, especially on the wings.
This victory was important for the team, which fell from Division 2 to Division 3 at the end of last year. Winning the state championship allows them the opportunity to challenge one of the last place teams in Division 2 in the spring and regain their spot in the league for next season. Currently three teams are tied for last in Division 2, UW-River Falls, Thunder Bay, and St. Benedict, so it remains to be determined which of these the Carleton women will challenge. However, just the opportunity comes as a surprise, as the team had no expectation that they would be playing for the state championship.
“We just got an e-mail that said ‘you’re in the championship; you’ve got the most points,” explained Hoffman. With the team’s twin 97-0 wins over Macalester and St. Olaf, however, this was not entirely unexpected.
“We’re really proud. We’ve gotten far this season,” claimed forwards co-captain Amanda Hess, ’08. “The team is very dedicated to the sport.” This dedication really came into play with Sunday’s performance, in a game that Hess described as “mentally and physically exhausting.” The outlook seems promising for the team’s next home game eighth weekend.
“This is one of the best seasons we’ve ever had,” claims Hoffman. And given the team’s success, there’s little more to be said.