After dominating West Virginia University 86-0 two weeks ago, the Lady Ram rugby team encountered an insurmountable Virginia team this weekend that ended West Chester’s hopes at this year’s postseason.Head coach Tony DeRemer spent the entire winter preparing the team for this big match against Virginia. Going through statistics and tapes, he figured out what the team had to do to win that game.
“They are very physical and tough, and we need to be ready for that,” DeRemer said. “We are a more technical, finessse team and physicality throws us out of our rhythm.”
DeRemer had the team doing some ‘physicality’ training to get them ready for that game. First up was a preseason warm up against West Virginia, where the Rams showed the fans what they are made of.
Brittany Miller was the Lady Rams’ leading scoring in that match, as she scored three trys.
West Chester broke out to an early lead, as they scored four trys in the game’s first four minutes, quickly jumping out to a 24-0 lead. Megan Lamm converted two of those four trys to earn four points herself. She ended the game with three conversions and six points.
Cheryl Johnson scored two trys in the first half. The speedy Johnson broke loose for over 50 meters on both of her scoring drives.
Near the end of the half, Ali Vandermay, Miller, and Laura Meier scored within an eight minute span of each other to make the score 51-0 going into the half. Later on, Maureen Rae, Meier, and Kate Heaton would also add trys. Getting chance to play varsity, Alex Dicicco notched her first career try in the second half to aid the Golden Rams to a final score of 86-0. Four Lady Ram ruggers scored multiple times in the game.
“I am so proud of the way the team played versus West Virginia,” DeRemer said.
The coach had developed a game plan for how to attack Virginia University, and he made it the team’s goal to practice it against West Virginia. “The team performed the game plan perfectly, and came away with a big win,” he said.
One thing coach DeRemer worried about after the West Virginia game was the team’s confidence level. West Virginia is at a much different level then Virginia is, and he didn’t want the team to be overconfident going into the quarterfinal of the MARFU tournament.
One thing he felt would really help the team was their healthy roster. Last season, the squad was spread thin, as nine starters were missing due to injuries. Most are back and there presence is sensed on the field.
“They also add a sense of comfort and veteran leadership to the lineup that is missing when they are not there,” DeRemer said.
One more big piece of the puzzle was making up for Sasha Stauffer, who left the team after graduating in the fall. Stauffer had big shoes to fill, a captain the past two seasons and one of the team’s all time leaders in scoring.
Coach DeRemer is confident in his choice to fill Sasha’s shoes with Brianne Feinour. “She has done a very good job,” he said. “She has a great vision of the field and she is very confident with the ball.”
Even after all of the work done in the off season, the practice and development of a solid game plan, and the return of health to a group of starters, the Lady Rams still fell short in their bout with Virginia, as they lost by a score of 27-13.
Virginia bounced out to a lead early in the game and never looked back. Two first half trys with one conversion gave UVA 12 points at the break. Megan Lamm converted a penalty kick in the first to make the score 12-3 at the first buzzer.
After two more Virginia scores, it was 22-3. In pure West Chester University fashion, the Golden Rams were in no position to give up, and began to mount a comeback. Brittany Miller and Cheryl Johnson teamed up to score two tries in eight minutes, making the score to 22-13 and bringing West Chester to within nine.
Virginia drove the final nail in the coffin at that point, working one final try across the line and solidifying the 27-13 victory. With the win, Virginia moves on to the MARFU semifinals, and guarantees themselves a spot in the Sweet Sixteen national tournament in April.
For the Golden Rams, it is the first time in the last six years they will not make a trip south for the tournament.
The Lady Rams will finish out the spring campaign with two more games. The first game is at LaSalle the first weekend in April, and the second takes place in Slippery Rock the next week. The team use these games to get some players some more playing experience, and work over the off season to bring next year’s team back to the national tournament.
Ryan Frisco is a third-year student majoring in Communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu.