The women’s rugby team suffered a first round defeat in the USA Rugby Division-II Championship Last weekend at home. The Polar Bears lost 36-21 to the American International College (AIC) Yellow Jackets, and were eliminated from the championships. However, they will still participate in their traditional spring round-robin tournaments with local colleges and universities. 

Despite the unfortunate result, head coach MaryBeth Mathews  said she was pleased with the Polar Bears’ performance throughout the game, as well as the progress they made over in the season. 

“It was a fantastic game and I’m really proud of the team, because when they played to the game plan, they performed brilliantly,” said Mathews. “The women on the field gained a great amount of experience while on tour, and after only two short weeks, put a lot together, worked hard, and played beautifully.”

Captain Kerry Townsend ’13 echoed Mathews’ sentiments about the teams’ play against the Yellow Jackets. 

“They were a tough team, and I think we played to the best of our ability,” said Townsend. 
“The last 10 minutes is when things started to break down—they were able to use our weaknesses against us. Plus, there were some really big girls out there, so it was tough. Even so, I think we played amazingly,” Townsend added. 

While Mathews pointed out some key performers during the game, she also made it clear that in winning and losing, the team as a whole is responsible. 

 “Emily Athanas-Linden [’15] and Emily King [’16] both had very good kicks which put pressure on AIC and allowed our back line—Maura Allen [’14], Kerry Townsend [’13], and Anna Piotti [’16]—to chase down the field and score a number of times,” said Mathews. “We also had a relentless defense from Randi London [’15], and Uche Esonu [’13]. But, having said that, it’s hard to single any one person out. Rugby is such a team sport, and requires that everyone play together and trust each other.” 

Despite Mathews’ reluctance to provide excuses for the defeat, she admitted that some complications—including the absence of players who went abroad for spring semester—may have made a difference in the final score. 

“The way that USA Rugby has formatted the national series is to the detriment of many teams from the Northeast and the Midwest, because our teams in the spring are not the same as our teams in the fall. Making no excuses, the fact is that we were missing several key players from the fall.” said Mathews.

Despite the teams’ short-lived postseason run, Mathews said she was optimistic about being able to use the remainder of the spring season to build her team up for next fall’s season. 

“What this loss does is change our whole outlook, so now our spring season can be developmental: attracting new players, and giving our rookies a lot more playing time,” said Mathews.  

Mathews said the team has a number of goals it is aiming to meet in time for the fall season. 

“Right now we have two goals—we need to prepare for the national championships and get our rookies ready, because they’re our future for the coming seasons.”