Changes evident in ruggers' level of play
Three weeks ago, the Women's Rugby Team did not expect to be preparing for its first playoff match in years. After a disappointing loss to Bates, "something just had to change" said captain Rachel Jones '04. "We tried to focus more on having fun and not just winning."
Immediately the women started playing as a more cohesive team. Coaches Mary Beth and Bob Matthews have observed a new degree of commitment and personal responsibility in their team's performance. Improved decision-making skills by Jones at fly half and Emily Angel '04 at inside center, as well as visible efforts by players to increase their support of each other, have elevated the team to an entirely new level of play. With more backs setting up clean rucks, and forwards like Paige Contreras-Gould '04, Whitney Alexander '04, and Liz Swedock '04 realigning with backs, the Bears have created an unstoppable momentum.
The changes are evident. Two weeks ago, Bowdoin trounced the undefeated Plymouth State by a score of 31-5. Having mentally and physically prepared for the game all week, the Bears stepped onto the field looking like a completely different team from the week before. With lower body positions, much improved fitness, and well-executed plays, Bowdoin dominated possession of the ball for most of the game. Contreras-Gould and Lynette Batt '04 both scored for Bowdoin in the first half, while Plymouth scored once.
By the second half, under Batt's fierce leadership, Angel made two successful tries and Courtney Reilly also scored. Jones completed three of the conversion kicks to bring the Bears up to a score of 31. Despite Plymouth's outstanding record, size, and athleticism, Bowdoin stepped up to the challenge and showed its true potential.
The next weekend the ruggers destroyed the University of Maine, Orono by a score of 37-0. Jocelyn Foulke '05, Angel, Jones, Batt, and Contreras-Gould all made tries in this game, and Jones not only completed many of the conversions but also got a three-point penalty kick for the Bears. She credited the excellent looping and support by all members of the team as the reasons for such a high-scoring game. Certainly by the last match of the season, Bowdoin has come together to be a unified, determined, and tough competitor.
Completing its undefeated season, the B-side squad has scored an incredible 89 points over the last four victories and has also displayed great progress and camaraderie in the past weeks.
With this comeback, Bowdoin has moved into the wildcard position in the NERFU Division II league playoffs. While tied with Bates for league points, its loss to the Mules puts the team lower in the standings. To avoid inter-bracket play, Bowdoin will not play Plymouth State again, but will travel to play the number-one undefeated team Southern Connecticut State University, this Saturday. Bowdoin has faced Southern Connecticut in the 1994 division playoffs, and the coaches of both teams are old friends. The Matthews assure us that this Saturday will be a great game between two extremely disciplined teams.