The ladies hope for a final four bid came crashing down Friday afternoon in the first round of the USA National Women’s Rugby tournament in New Mexico, but were able to see the positive side of it, how far they had come this season, their multiple accomplishments, and the special bond that they all share with each other.Their first match against Brown University took place Friday afternoon at 4:30. West Chester seemed like they were ready for the final four right away, as Megan Godfrey struck first, only three and a half minutes into the game, to give the Rams an early lead. That was the highest point for the girls though, as the Brown Bears came back with 43 unanswered points, leading to an eventual 50-12 victory. A big loss came when Senior captain Michelle Kirk injured her ankle and was unable to finish the game, limping around on crutches. Injuries have plagued West Chester throughout the entire season.
With their chances at a final four finish gone, the girls held their heads up high, as they took on UCLA in the consolations Saturday afternoon. Not only did this game determine the girls final placement in the tournament, but whether or not the MARFU semifinalists earn a seed in next years tournament, which is how West Chester has earned their bid the past three seasons.
Things didn’t look good for the girls early on in Saturday’s match-up with UCLA, as they went into the half down 17-0.
“We may have been down 17-0 going into the half, but our game is 80 minutes,” sophomore Drew Groswith said of the slow start.
“It was a slow start.but once we got going there was no stopping us,” freshman Laura Meier said.
And that is just the mentality that the team had, as they came back to tie it at 17 by the end of the first half.
“The feeling when we scored the try to tie them was indescribable,” freshman Maddie Kriebel said. “To know that we came back from zero to tie and were going to win was unbelievable!”
This try sent the game into a 20 minute overtime, where West Chester kept the momentum going, scoring 22 more points to make the final score 39-17.
“We were a little off in the first half,” sophomore Ali Vandermay who scored a try in the game against Brown. “But we got ourselves together and played our game and really showed UCLA what we’re capable of.”
“It was unbelievable to see our team go from 0 to 39 points,” sophomore Mary Bocchino said.
“We played with a lot of heart and really showed our true colors making the comeback that we did in the game,” freshman Ali Dowdy said.
Not only did the win give West Chester a shot at the Sweet Sixteen tournament next season, but it showed the team how well they work together and how close they have grown over the past season.
“We worked so hard this season to get to this point and I am incredibly proud of the heart that we played with this weekend,” Erin Furlong said. “I wouldn’t ask to play with any other girls.”
“I couldn’t have wished for a better team or a greater season as a rookie,” Laura Meier said.
The season has definitely been a memorable one for West Chester. They will not know their final standings in the tournament until all of the games are finished at the end of the weekend. Even though they did not make the final four, the girls are not discouraged; their heads are held high, and they are proud of this season’s accomplishments.
“I’ve never been more proud to say ‘I play rugby for West Chester.'” Megan Lamm said.
Next weekend will be the end of the season, as the girls take on Army Saturday afternoon. This will be the final collegiate game for this year’s talented group of seniors.
Ryan Frisco is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at RF648257@wcupa.edu.