Polar Bear 7s: You Win Some, You Lose Some (2-2)

What do the US Army, some polar bears, and sea gulls have in common? They all faced off against the panthers this weekend at Bowdoin College’s “Polar Bear Sevens” tournament in Brunswick, Maine. Middlebury celebrated Earth Day in style, led by flower child/ coach extraordinaire KO Onufry, who asked the ladies to summon the power of Mother Earth for this occasion.

Due to a miscommunication, the panthers had not one, but two horses in the race, as they discovered upon their arrival that both an A side and a B side had been entered into pool play. With a traveling side of 13 players, this prospect yielded only a few soft screams from panicking players and coaches alike. With the great and generous help of a few BU players, though, Midd was able to rearrange their roster and field two highly successful sides.

Midd B started things off for the panthers with a match against Endicott B. Tries from Emma Nelson ’20 (converted) and Calla Rosenfeld ’19 kept the Gulls on their toes, but in the end it was a 12-31 loss.

Roughly five seconds later, Midd A took the pitch to face off against the University of New England, whom they beat handily with a 39-0 win.

It was Midd B’s turn again right after, this time against Bowdoin B. Though the panthers were able to give them a run for their money, Midd fell short, ceding five tries to the polar bears.

In the last game of Middlebury’s morning quadruple-header (or a 4×4, as west-coasters Franny Suarez and Ariana Hernandez would call it), the A side had their toughest matchup of the day against Norwich A. The panthers took it right to them, though they were unable to make it into their end zone. After a valiant fight, the panthers walked off with their heads held high.

The Magnificent Seven: Middlebury’s A-Side pulled off some truly spectacular victories this weekend

After lunch/nap break, Midd A was reenergized ahead of their most long-awaited match of the day against Bowdoin A. Bowdoin was clearly expecting an easy win, because after Ellen Colton ’19’s try in the first 10 seconds of play, they sent in an entire new front row and switched several of their backs, using all five substitutions. If polar bears had long tails, they would have been between their legs for the remaining 13 minutes and 50 seconds, because Middlebury never lost their lead thanks to some really spectacular running, drives, and, of course, the resulting tries. In an upset victory, the Panthers would win it 26-20.

With the A-side cheering from the sidelines, Midd B took on their final opponents of the day, Norwich B. Both sides fought hard, but Midd was unable to secure the W.

Not expecting to earn second place in their pool, the Panthers now faced off against their closest opponents of the day: West Point. The Panthers were unsure of where to go at first because the Army was nowhere to be seen, but once they took off their camo they were easily spotted by the Panthers, whose sharp eyesight is, according to most of the internet sites I consulted for this research, “excellent.”

Unsure of what a victory over the US Army Cadets would mean (would we conquer the military? Seize control of the government? Get the nuclear codes?), the panthers were ready for a fight. Despite the cheers of “WAR” from the West Point sidelines, Midd kept their eyes on the prize, scoring tries in both halves. In the end, the military industrial complex maintained its firm grip on American life, securing a 17-26 victory over the Panthers, which was probably for the best considering our very limited understanding of governmental procedure.

Scoreboard results aside, it truly was a great day for rugby! The panthers learned a lot from watching and playing, all ahead of the ACRA tournament next weekend in Kutztown, Pennsylvania! See below for full results:

The Middlebury Panthers braved the rain and the mud for a great weekend of rugby.

Middlebury A

v. UNE: 39-0 W

v. Norwich A: 0-41 L

v. Bowdoin A: 26-20 W

v. Army B: 17-26 L

Final: 2-2 for the day

Middlebury B

v. Endicott B: 12-31 L

v. Bowdoin B: 0-25 L

v. Norwich B: 12-36 L

Final: 0-3 for the day

Purple Valley 7’s Tournament: First Place Champs!

The Middlebury Panthers were very excited to return to Williams in the spring, this time for their season-opening sevens tournament! It was a beautiful day for rugby, with temps in the mid-60s, but the wind sent drop-kicks flying in all directions, much to the chagrin of our all-star kickers, Franny “HUMBLE.” Suarez ’17 and Ellen “I don’t need a break” Colton ’19.

Eager to prove their mettle, the Panthers took to the field in their first match against Springfield College, which was expected to be the toughest of the day. Tries from Middlebury in the first few minutes cemented their lead early on, though, and they were able to defeat them despite some great breakaway tries from Springfield, for a final score of 20-10.

Following a short break between our first and second matches, the Panthers soaked up some sun after a long Vermont winter, resulting in some truly terrific sunburns (see photo below).

They hit hard again for their double header in the afternoon, this time against Connecticut College for their second win of the day (32-0), and Williams for their third (29-5). Players were rotated through, and new combinations kept the Camels and the Ephs on their toes.

The Panthers secured their tournament victory with a decisive win over Wellesley College (46-0). A B-Side game against a combination of Williams and Conn players provided a great opportunity for some younger players to take initiative on the pitch, and three new players played in their first-ever rugby game!

A huge thank-you goes out to the Williams College Rugby Club for hosting and to all the teams for a beautiful day of rugby! Thanks also to our loyal fans, canine and human, who traveled to watch us play! This weekend was a huge start for our season as we continue to prepare for the ACRA-qualifying tournament at Bowdoin College next weekend!

Middlebury @ Williams: 96-5, W

 

It was a beautiful day for rugby this Saturday as we headed south down route 7 for our season opener. The panthers were eager to get playing, especially those seniors returning from abroad. Because of numbers, both teams agreed to play 10’s instead of the usual 15’s, with four 15-minute quarters. This gave both teams some much needed respite throughout the game.

 

The panthers came out strong, with scrum half Ellen “MY COW” Colton ’19 scoring within the first few minutes. The panthers would go on to score four more times in the first quarter, with a spectacular first try ever for Jess “Showtunes” Garner ’19.5. Special shoutout to Brenda “Bridget” Li ’17, who held the backs down at fullback/wing, and also scored during the first quarter.

 

Under the fearless leadership of coach KO Onufry, the panthers shook it up for the second quarter and tried some new positions. This allowed us to get more creative with our plays, most notably a switch between Melanie “Jane” Pascual ’19 and Hannah “It’s Just Blood” Phelps ’18 that resulted in a beautiful try from Phelps. A try from Williams during the second quarter left the score 41-5 at halftime.

 

For the second half of the game, the panthers focused on working cohesively, with members of the forwards and backs moving together. Tries were scored, blood was shed. The panthers moved well as a unit and were very successful in their lineouts.

 

Huge shout out to Calla “But I’m a Flanker?” Rosenfeld ’19 who played her first game for Middlebury in the back line and to all the players who tried new positions! High scorers were Ellen Colton ’19 (29 pts) and Heather Tourgee ‘17 (20pts). We hope to see all of our amazing fans next weekend (October 1) at home against Colby at 11am.

 

First Quarter:

Ellen Colton ‘19 (5)

Jessica Garner ’19.5 (5) (Colton-2)

Heather Tourgee ’17 (5)

Brenda Li ’17 (5) (Colton-2)

Melanie Jane Pascual ’19 (5)

 

Second Quarter:

Jess Masinter ’19 (5) (Phelps-2)

Williams (5)

Heather Tourgee (5)

 

 

Third Quarter:

Heather Tourgee (5)

Ellen Colton (5)

Brenda Li (5) (Colton-2)

Jess Masinter (5) (Colton-2)

Hannah Phelps (5) (Colton-2)

 

Fourth Quarter:

Heather Tourgee (5)

Audrey Pan ’19 (5) (Colton-2)

Ellen Colton (5)

Julia Struzyna ‘19.5 (5) (Colton -2)

Midd Vs. St Mikes #Victory

It was a great day for rugby and an even greater day for turf burn as we geared up against St. Mikes on the men’s football field. Though KO was of course in Georgia for some incredible Eagles/rugby/amazingKO event, we were well equipped with Sargent Sarsh and Katie Linder (who’s essentially KO’s age anyways). St. Mikes scored first, but just like Brittany Spear’s career, we came back hard and our very own Kate Monroe scored us a beautiful try. After coming in low and hitting hard, Heather Tourgee aka Big Heat aka Emily-Scarratt-in-the-making, scored another try.

The game continued on. Thing got tense. People lost their cleats. And most stressful of all– Jess’s nose wouldn’t stop bleeding all over our beautiful new white jerseys. Then, out of nowhere, like the first person in line at breakfast-for-dinner in Ross, Ellen Colton broke away, and scored her very first, but definitely not her last, try! But then, St. Mikes fired back, and much like one of Heather’s male suitors, embarrassingly scored twice. That brought the scored up to 15:15 and things were tense. You could practically see the vein bursting out of Brenda Li’s temple due to adrenaline and anticipation. But then, Jess Masinter, took off and scored just in time to win us the game!

But hey hey hey — the game didn’t stop there. B-side commenced with many a new player and some oldies-but-goodies. Must like many of the marriages that happen in Las Vegas, there was a certain confused but committed feel to the game. Hannah Phelps, living up to the athletic expectations of her last name, scored a fantastic try! With a fabulously talented scrum-half in the mix, and of course the determination, hard work, and resilience of the team, we played a great game!

Season Opener: Prom Dress Rugby

Final Score, 50-20, loss

This past weekend MCWRC headed up to Burlington to play UVM. Since they couldn’t get access to any outside field space, we were slated to play on turf inside at the Edge sporting facility in Williston, VT. This ended up being a fortunate turn of events since it snowed that Saturday. We knew going in that the game against D-1 UVM would be tough, but everyone donned their outrageous prom dresses and geared up for the challenge. Since the field was quite small, we decided that there would be no kicking except to kick-off, there would be 3 20-minute periods, and that we’d play 14s (no fullbacks). After some laughter and a quick warm up the teams set up with Middlebury kicking off to UVM. The game began fast-paced and tough as UVM quickly broke through our defenses and scored a try. The first minutes of play were exhausting and UVM’s forwards lived up to their reputation as they ran “power” after power off of the rucks.

The first period was challenging, and we struggled to maintain possession and keep control on such a small field, but captain Katie Linder ’15 scored Middlebury’s first try of the game. Play calmed down slightly in the second period as Middlebury began to hit its stride. After a few line-up adjustments and some water we hit the field again with an eye on rucking and setting pillars/posts. This time both Linder and Sylvia Lynch ’18 scored tries. As we started to figure out their forwards’ strategy, our backs gained more space for longer runs and deeper passes (despite the small field). The third period felt more settled, and we changed around positions again. At this point in the game, many players were in positions they’d rarely, if ever, practiced. Everyone met the challenge with a spirit of flexibility, determination, and fun. In the final period Kristin Richards ’17 scored her first ever try. Shout-out to Hannah Phelps ’18 and Kate Monroe ‘18.5 on their first game with MCWRC! Even though we lost it was a tough but great game to open our season, and I’m looking forward to our next games and tournaments.

 

Final Score (Loss): UVM 50-Middlebury 20

First Period
Katie Linder-5

Second Period
Katie Linder-5
Sylvia Lynch-5

Third Period
Kristin Richards-5

Courageous Against Colby

Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for rugby—this year we sacrificed our Halloween. But somehow the game made up for it. We arrived at Bowdoin to play Colby (in this case not a trick, just confusing). We put on our costumes, all dressing as rugby players and encountered the most frighteningly talented witch of all: Jade! But we played scarily well that day. Miss Jen Wenzler playing scrum half for the first time, was eerily good at the position. Our back line was well coordinated and clever, like a good couples costume. Lissa scored a try, kicking butt and then kicking us a few more points. At the end of the game, the score was like any store-bought costume: uncomfortably close. But with two more tries executed by Franny and Skravitz and the hard work from our team, we won 17-10, marking the end of our season. This victory was sweeter than any halloween candy we could’ve possibly gotten.

Marshes at Midd: The Battle of Bowdoin

The day of the game against Bowdin felt similar to gearing up for battle—the terrain dangerous, the spectators nervous, and the stakes high. The cold frost that came down from the north with Bowdoin’s team had turned our field into a swamp of quicksand, and we had to play on for our families, for glory, and Franklin’s grandmother. MCWRC pulled through and fought fiercely and inspirationally for the entire eighty minutes. Despite the end score at 60-0, we played the game like the score was 0-0, giving our all. We even played a fierce B-side game, showing our bravery and persistence. Though many walked away with battle wounds, our pride remained in tact. Until next time, Bowdoin.

Muddy MCWRC at Midd

When people think of women’s rugby, they often joke that our girls “play for the other team,” but Saturday that is exactly what we did.  Amherst arrived on the pitch with only seven players, so we graciously loaned them some of our bravest souls. We played tens (like MCWRC is composed of), and really brought our game, and their game, to us/them. Stevie “Hit Me” Durocher, naturally called for a maul and we scored off of it. Ella scored her first ever try!  And Katherine played her first ever rugby game in an Amherst jersey. Though it was pouring rain and the mud was all over us like the boys at Atwater,we won the game 58-10. With alumni back for homecoming, our game really hit home—literally when Franny tackled Tina. We would like to thank our alumnae for restraining themselves from going out there on the pitch with us, and instead cheering us on! MCWRC is MCWRC whether you’re in a purple jersey, a blue jersey, or a koala shirt (shout out to Mini)!

Magnificent at Midd

It was a tense day when we entered the field against UMO. It was a day that would decide whether we went to playoffs and we were about to risk anything—Franny put on the American Flag headband with extra precision. When we walked on that field we came out ready to play, bringing it to them. UMO’s faces matched the color of their jerseys when the saw us: pale white from fear. We hit hard, we hit fast, and we were a hit!– our many fans going wild on the side lines (shout out to Maggie). Big Heat scored twice, unleashing her inner spirit animal: a 5’11 and 1/4 British Center. Laura had an amazing run with a grubber kick which, like any guys she’s tried to get rid of, bounced right back into her arms. Miss Hoffman (as her elementary school kids call her) also scored two conversion kicks. Katy Svec broke UMO’s hearts and through their defense scoring against all odds, and Tina will be shooting the boot this Saturday after her first try of the season. To add insult to injury (considering their two injured UMO players), Stevie, Sarah Sicular, and Lissa all scored trys. We ended 39-7—MCWRC’s playing this weekend was, put simply, magnificent.