By MICKEY BARNES
Not only can the University of Mary Washington women’s rugby team feel confident about their undefeated season, but after this weekend’s playoff wins, they can celebrate their earned spot at Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Nationals in the spring.
This weekend, UMW hosted and competed in the Capital Woman’s Collegiate Rugby Conference Division two Tournament against American University, the College of William & Mary and Salisbury University.
On Saturday, UMW faced American to determine which team would advance to battle the winner of the William & Mary and Salisbury game on Sunday.
Going into the game, UMW was first place in the CAC South conference, while American was second place in the North conference. This is the first year UMW hosted the Capital Athletic Conference playoffs.
Before the game, sophomore Micaela Butler expressed that she was “feeling great” about the season resting on the outcome of their bout against AU.
UMW began with the ball after American’s kickoff. The game became intense quickly when an AU player was injured after hits by the UMW players.
Moments later, the first points were scored by senior Lara Hampson. She broke away for a long run, leaving the opponents in the dust as she sprinted untouched three-quarters of the field, ending in the tri-zone.
UMW continued their success with junior Elyssa McClain’s consecutive crushing hits on the opponent. Soon after, McClain found the tri-zone to extend UMW’s lead to 12-0.
The UMW ladies continued to control the game for the remainder of the first half. Well executed lateraling and tackling helped UMW find the tri-zone two more times in the second half, which they entered with a lead of 24-0.
American proved strong early in the second half, finding themselves only one yard from the tri-zone, but UMW’s strong defense stopped multiple attempts of retaliation by American.
After a few quick stuffs of American’s push for the tri-zone, Hampson once again broke away for her third long score of the game. The score by Hampson gave UMW a comfortable 31-0 lead after the successful conversion kick.
The speedy McClain found the tri-zone once again, extending UMW’s lead to 36-0.
As time wound down, it was clear American could not pick up enough points to create a comeback. UMW sophomore Maddy Ernesto joined in on the scoring for UMW as she gave the home team a lead of 41.
A shutout was becoming a reality until AU put up their first points of the game on a tri, placing the score at 41-5.
Ernesto would go on to score her second and final tri of the game, putting the lead and final score at 46-5.
After the game, head coach Kris Kabza, a 1988 alum of UMW, said he was “feeling great after the nerves set aside,” when speaking of the blowout.
UMW took this momentum into the championship match up against Salisbury the following day, where they won their first Capital Woman’s Collegiate Rugby Conference D2 championship with a score of 24-17.
Kabza described the game as a little “too exciting,” but he said it certainly ended the way they had wanted.
Even after such a significant margin of victory, Kabza praised the number of people in attendance.
“I was pleased when I turned around at kickoff to see a number of people in the stands, and it was great to see so many students here,” said Kabza.