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Women’s rugby opens season with win against Frostburg State

September 15, 2023

Courtesy of Brian Beard
FROSTBEATEN: Rebecca Vakarau ’25 fends off a tackle. The women’s rugby team garnered a 55–5 win against Frostburg State last Saturday and will return to the pitch this Sunday in a home game against Northeastern.

Women’s rugby kicked off its season with a dominating 55–5 win against Frostburg State University (0–0–1) last Saturday. Despite the successful outcome, the Polar Bears were initially uncertain about their chances against Frostburg, who had just formed their Division II women’s rugby team this year.

“We had no information on [Frostburg]. We didn’t know how much experience they had,” Lulu Linkas ’26 said. “[But] we knew they were a Division II program … and most of their team was recruited.”

The momentum of the match was in favor of Bowdoin within the first three minutes. A series of skillful passes moved the ball towards the sidelines for Linkas to run past Frostburg’s defense for a try. This was followed by a conversion from Lauryn Eisenhart ’24, making the scoreline 7–0.

“It was a team try. I simply received the final pass and ran it up to the try line,” Linkas said.

Assistant Coach James Read emphasized the skillful cooperation displayed by the team as a reason for their sweeping success against Frostburg.

“[Our offense] was able to move the ball wide really effectively into open spaces which allows the quick players one-on-one opportunities against their defenders,” Read said.

The Polar Bears continued to drive their early momentum into a first half scoreline of 33–0. Near the end of the first half, a brief thunderstorm delayed the game for over half an hour. However, the Polar Bears were largely unaffected, conceding only a single try from Frostburg without conversion points throughout the second half while scoring an additional 22 points.

“Although we were in the lead, it was also a vulnerable moment because [our opponents] are going to come back out and really want a comeback,” Linkas said. “We just had a long break and lost all the adrenaline that was in our system. So being able to come back out and play at the same intensity that we were playing … was really impactful.”

The team’s cohesion and skill are a testament to the burgeoning success of this year’s new Head Coach Laura Miller, in addition to the team’s legacy of three consecutive championship victories.

“The team has a phenomenal baseline skillset,” Miller said. “[The game against Frostburg] was a testament to how much work has gone into the program before I got here.”

Nevertheless, the women’s rugby team strives to further develop their technique, with this year’s coaching staff raising the standards.

“This team has earned the opportunity to really get into the [advanced] details of the game that you don’t always get at the college level,” Miller said. “I’m hoping to display some fun skills we don’t normally see in [Division III rugby].”

Examples of advanced improvements range from players’ versatility to pivot between all roles to small technical adjustments of players’ positioning after being tackled.

While developing these skills, the rugby team retains a strong focus on integrating their first-year recruits and walk-ons through a peer-coaching system.

“We have really engaged players who care so much about the team culture and want it to be successful,” Miller said. “I trust them to put their best foot forward to be a good advocate and a positive coach [for new players].”

After a successful first game, the team is not just looking to win a fourth championship but also to improve Division III rugby.

“Obviously, we have a target on our backs and this championship record,” Linkas said. “But, as a team, we’re trying to set a new Division III standard for women’s rugby. We want to play good rugby and have the standard of play continually increase.”

This Sunday, the Polar Bears will play at home against Northeastern University (0–0–0).


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