No surprises here: Army and Brown played in the Northeast Women's DI College Championship. The two teams have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, but this weekend proved that the teams are still works in progress.
Army has had the edge, however slim, over Brown the last couple of years, and today was more of the same. The cadets won 28-19, posting a 21-0 lead in the first half. But yesterday's game against Cornell, in which USMA won 27-10, drew some concern from coach Will Riddle, who said that the team was going to need to play a lot better if it were beat Brown today.
"Against Cornell, our tackling technique wasn't there and our decision-making in the backline needed work," Riddle explained. Team captain Sylvia Thomas corralled the team after the Cornell match, made sure their heads were screwed on straight, and got everyone in line to step up today against Brown, which had shut out Dartmouth 55-0 in yesterday's semifinal.
"I was very happy with today's game," Riddle said. "We played some of our better rugby, and our forwards had one of their best performances."
The forwards had their work cut out for them against a very powerful Brown pack, which resulted in less than ideal scrums for Army. In the loose, however, the Amry forwards set a good attacking platform for its dangerous backs, producing a couple of turnovers that allowed two Jess Sexauer tries and another from Annie Lee, who also handled the conversions.
The match was played on a significantly sloped field from try zone to try zone, an advantage that Army enjoyed in the first half, and then Brown used in the second. Brown outscored Army 19-7 in the second 40 minutes.
"We saw a more disciplined Brown today, while we had a higher penalty count," Riddle said. "Their forwards dominate and their backs can handle themselves. The flyhalf has a great foot and kept our back three working."
Lee added another try, converted by Ashley Miller, in the second half to make Brown's comeback fall just short.
The season is all but over for the teams as winter break approaches, except for those nine cadets traveling to California with the NRU U19s. It's been a tough weekend and a long season, but the teams were rewarded with advantageous nationals seeds.
Also heading to nationals is Dartmouth, which takes the third seed after a 17-15 win over Cornell.
"It was a dog fight," Dartmouth coach Deb Archambault said. "Both teams were holding nothing back and really wanted that third seed to Nationals."
Cornell went up 10-0 on a converted try and penalty before Dartmouth no. 8 Virginia Roach dotted down for the team's lone try of the half, 10-5 into the break. Cornell answered straightaway with another five-pointer before giving up two Dartmouth tries to inside center Meg Thorn and captain Kristen Liu, the second of which occurred with four minutes remaining. With the score tied at 15 all, flyhalf Valerie Hanson drop-kicked the winning conversion.
"Dartmouth has spent much of this season with several starters hurt or sick for each of their matches," Archambault said, "and even this weekend, with most of our players back, they were not up to full fitness levels because of their injuries. We're looking forward to working hard this winter and to becoming the team we have the potential to become this spring."