Rugby completes comeback win

FRESHMAN FORWARD REBECCA NGUYEN ATTEMPTS to push past the Hamilton defense in the October 4 game. RPI won the game 27-24.

The RPI women’s rugby team was victorious in their first home match of the season Saturday, October 4, beating Hamilton College 27-24 in a fast-paced, exciting game.

Hamilton came out strong, scoring the first try, which was successfully converted, giving them a 7-0 lead. RPI quickly answered with their own try, as junior center Sarah Bogdan ran over the line to bring the score to 7-5. Hamilton then scored three unanswered tries, widening their lead to 24-5 to end the first half.

In the second half, RPI improved, driving the play deep into Hamilton territory. As the Engineers inched closer to their line, the defense began getting desperate, which culminated in a Hamilton player dangerously high tackling freshman wing Jackie Walton. This led to a yellow card for the player, which limited Hamilton to 14 players for 10 minutes.

RPI quickly took advantage of this, with junior lock Isabel Johnson scoring her first try less than a minute after the card was issued. The conversion was successfully kicked by Walton. Junior Tierney Morton went over the line mere minutes later, which brought the overall score to 17-24, with Hamilton still in the lead. As the time left on the yellow card dwindled, Isabel Johnson got RPI’s third try in 10 minutes, narrowing Hamilton’s lead to two points.

Hamilton returned to full strength, but the damage had been done. The momentum was firmly on the side of the Engineers, and they continued to push deep into Hamilton territory. What few line breaks Hamilton had were shut down by freshman fullback Grace Rabinowitz, who has quickly established herself as a standout player on the team.

With less than a minute left, RPI was awarded a penalty close to the Hamilton line. Captain Morton took it quickly, only to be held up in the try zone by the Hamilton defense. A scrum was awarded to RPI five meters out. Although RPI won the scrum, Hamilton turned the ball over. Fortunately, they quickly knocked it on and another five meter scrum was awarded for what would be the last play of the game.

The powerful RPI forwards not only won possession of the ball, but began driving the Hamilton scrum back. 8-man Morton trapped the ball under her foot, keeping it within the scrum as RPI steadily advanced. The moment she crossed the line, she dropped down on the ball, scoring her second try of the game and clinching an RPI win.

After the game, Coach Andy McDonnell said, “I have to say that I am very impressed with the tenacity of our team. Even when we were down 24-5, there was never any [thought of] giving up.” This victory gives the RPI women an extremely good chance of qualifying for the American Collegiate Rugby Association national playoffs, but they still have to win their last three games in order to be guaranteed a spot. The last home game of the season will be this Thursday, October 9 at 7 pm. Come out to Anderson Field and support the team!