The women’s rugby team beat Tufts 44-0 to win the New England Small College Rugby Conference Championship last Saturday, improving its record to 8-0.

Saturday’s game was the seventh shutout game of the season for Bowdoin. Coach MaryBeth Mathews attributed the team’s success to a good start to the season and continuing improvement. 

“From day one, [the girls] arrived on campus in late August fit and ready to go, be good teammates, set goals and play good rugby,” Mathews said. “Our goal has always been to get incrementally better. They build on their basic skills. They build on their understanding and knowledge of the game. They build on playing together as a team.”

In the first three minutes of the game, Samantha Hoegle ’17 ran into the corner for a try. Randi London ’15 made the lead 10-0 after touching the ball down to the in-goal area. 

Paige Pfannenstiel ’17 had two tries in the first half and Hoegle added another. London made the conversion to give the Polar Bears a 27-0 halftime lead. 

Pfannenstiel, Charlotte Kleiman ’15 and Vianney Gomezgil Yaspik ’18 each had a try in the second half. London converted after Kleiman’s try. 

Bowdoin focused mostly on keeping possession throughout the match while still maintaining a fast pace.

“Definitely with the conditions being pretty rainy, we played a little more tightly and made sure we got more control over the ball rather than going for the really long pass,” Pfannenstiel said. “Our game is playing really quickly, getting the ball out quickly and running fast, and I think we executed that really well.”

The Polar Bears beat Tufts earlier this season 54-0, but Mathews expected this matchup to be tougher. 

“Tufts has a new coach this fall, so we knew they would be better at the end of the season,” Mathews said. “Tufts has a large roster. They have good depth, and they’re smart kids—just like ours. We prepared mentally and physically for that.”

With the championship win, the Polar Bears advanced to the American Collegiate Rugby Association’s Fall 15s National Championship Tournament. 

They will play Colorado College in the Round of 32 at home on Sunday. 

Last year the team also qualified for nationals but lost in its quarterfinal matchup against Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.

“We’ve never had a Round of 32 opponent come from outside of New England, so we’ll have to try and do our homework,” said Mathews. 

“With rugby basically being a club sport, there’s not going to be video analysis for us to learn much about them.” 

Despite these challenges, the team is ready to take on Colorado.

“Basically we will prepare the way we’d prepare for any team. It doesn’t matter who your opponent is. We have to be able to execute our game plan, whether it’s the attack portion or the defense portion,” said Mathews.

Both Mathews and Pfannenstiel believe that the team still has work to do before this Sunday’s game. 

“Throughout the season, we’ve been getting a lot of fouls called on us,” Pfannenstiel said. “We really need to work on settling down in the moment. Every penalty slows down our game.”