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Public Affairs : Women's Rugby beats Navy

Women's Rugby beats Navy, faces Norwich in 
ACRA Division I loss

Staff Reports
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Dec. 11, 2013) — The West Point Women’s Rugby team began their weekend at the inaugural American Collegiate Rugby Association championship Dec. 7 in Auburndale, Fla., by defeating the midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy, 56-12.

Although the score indicates a one-sided game, it was not an easy win. Navy never let down, giving everything they had until the last minute had passed, but the well-balanced West Point team was able to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses and tipped the scale in their favor. The fluid mechanics of the Army team coupled with the primal desire to “Beat Navy” ensured the midshipmen’s defeat.

Class of 2015 Cadet Kate Roose ignited Army with a try from 30 meters out after the cadets spent nearly all of the first 15 minutes of the match inside Navy’s 22. Navy had no answer for Roose, who followed her first try with four more to demonstrate her explosive speed and agile footwork. Setting up the back line for the tries was an impenetrable pack led by Class of 2014 Cadet Liz Olcese and Class of 2015 Cadets Betsy McCracken and Mel Thom. The trio’s aggression and hard hits led to clean balls for Class of 2014 Cadet Clare Moser, scrum half and team captain, who fired the ball wide allowing the speed of the backs to dominate. Class of 2016 Cadet Kaeleigh Warfield caused Navy a lot of trouble with powerful runs off the back of the scrums which resulted in long drives over the gain line.

Army was happy to welcome Class of 2015 Cadet Bella Bermudez back to the field after an injury during the Sweet 16 competition. Also taking the field were first year rookies, Class of 2015 Cadet Lyndi Barrett and Class of 2017 Cadet Jessica Soto, who played with the tenacity most often found in veteran athletes. Soto’s fearless advances took Navy by surprise—the impact of her hits is probably still being felt today.

Aside from Roose’s five tries, Army’s unstoppable center, Class of 2015 Cadet Allison Wilson, contributed two tries. Class of 2014 Cadet April Emerson, flyhalf, also brought in two tries. Class of 2016 Cadet Mariah Caid-loos used her footwork to find holes in the Navy defense to record a try of her own. McCracken connected on three conversions rounding out the scoring in the win.

The Women’s Army Rugby team took on a familiar foe in the American Collegiate Rugby Association championship game against Norwich. The cadets knew they were in for a battle after suffering a 48-12 defeat to them earlier in the season. The majority of the game was spent in Norwich’s end but their defense was relentless and provided few opportunities for Army to score.

Army saw an opening as Class of 2014 Cadet Shantel Crichlow, senior wing, tore past Norwich’s 22 and was brought down on the 5. Following a quick ball from Moser, Emerson found a hole and dove for the try line securing the first points for Army. 

Army All Tournament Team
Betsy McCracken – prop
Melissa Thom – lock
April Emerson – flyhalf
Kate Roose – wing
DI Sportsmanship Awards
Navy: Karissa Kleinschmidt – flanker
Northern Iowa: Meghan Flanigan – inside center
Army: Andrea Bagley – flanker
Norwich: Shanoui Gunn – flanker  
The West Point Women's Rugby team defeated the U.S. Naval Academy before battling the cadets from Norwich University at the inaugural American Collegiate Rugby Association championship in Auburndale, Fla. 

Soto once again landed stellar hits on Norwich’s line and Army was quick to respond to the fast ball with powerful tackles. Class of 2015 Cadet Ella Mason and Class of 2016 Cadet Carissa Pekny were pivotal in the stoppages refusing to let Norwich move past them. Pekny demonstrated her well-roundedness as she exploded through Norwich’s line on multiple occasions, often dragging several Norwich players along behind her.

Army was once again able to find the try line early in the second half. After a long range kick from McCracken, Army set up a lineout inside Norwich’s 22. The ball moved quickly and found Crichlow on the outside for a dive across the line and an Army try. McCracken followed with an easy conversion.

Every yard was earned and every hit was felt. Class of 2017 Cadets Kirsten “KiKi” Redmon and Ari Efaw provided fresh legs in the second half and Redmon set Norwich girls flying as she catapulted off the scrums on defense. Efaw provided a much need spark for West Point as she completed a long-range kick for points bringing Army within two points of Norwich, 17-15.

Army was never able to overcome that deficit, losing 32-15, but the spirit of the team was not brought down. They fought an 80-minute battle unlike any they had this season, but emerged a seasoned team despite obstacles and injuries along the way.

When standout Thom went down early in the first half, Class of 2016 Cadet Allie McDonald stepped up, playing with an inextinguishable fire. Shortly after, Caid-loos, who consistently stood out with phenomenal performances throughout the season, went down with a broken collarbone. Her sister Marissa took the field in her place and didn’t skip a beat. Class of 2016 Cadet Chioma Odocha joined the game late replacing Crichlow and played beyond her experience, stopping Norwich from a try while defending three opponents on her own.

The American Collegiate Rugby Association named all-tournament teams, sportsmanship awards and MVPs for the DI and DII championships. For Army, all-tournament honors went to Emerson, Thom, McCracken and Roose, who lead all scorers in the tournament with five trys. Class of 2014 Cadet Andrea Bagley earned a Division I Sportsmanship Award.

Another recap is available on at's-college/10088-error-ridden-acra-final-goes-to-norwich.html.