There is only one word to accurately describe Vassar’s women’s rugby team: relentless. They have gone 8-1 this season after winning the Tri-State Championship last weekend. But the Brewers didn’t just beaten other teams – they have crushed them, ahead of their opponents 457-67 this season. The massive tally includes regular season wins over Albany University (68-0), RPI (58-15), Fairfield University (39-14), Marist College (62-0) and Stony Brook University (28-0 by forfeit). Their only loss came against Bowdoin in a narrow 17-26 loss.
Vassar’s women’s rugby team continued to dominate the Tri-State Conference tournament, winning the quarter-finals against Rutgers 63-5 and the semi-finals against RPI 47-0, thanks to particularly strong performances from their seniors. . Last Saturday they won the title with a 75-7 victory over Fairfield in the final. Vassar notched a school record of seven tries (one try is when a player touches the ball on the ground on or behind the goal line) from Emily Howell ’22, two each from Kira Nolan ’22 and Julia Busby ’22 and one each from Lauren Thompson ’23 and Halle Hutchinson ’22. Additionally, Nolan had five drawbacks (one drawback, or conversion, is when the player tries to kick the ball through the uprights to score more points after a try).
Being tri-state champions is no small feat, but the Brewers aren’t quite done. “We are really excited, but we also know that there is still a lot of work to be done! Exclaimed Hannah Thompson ’23. “We want to celebrate our victories and taking the time to recognize what we did well is important. Having said that, the national championships have always been the goal, so staying focused is integral to our success in future games. Marie Claire Cicenia ’23 expressed a similar sentiment, stating: “Win [the Tri-State tournament] is the norm now, nationals are the goal.
When asked how the team felt after the win and before the national championships, Busby replied: “Confident and proud to show real form and promise as a team, [but] we will work on our physicality [including] aggressive tackles and rucks are a priority. Hannah nodded, saying, “We continue to work on areas of our game that still need improvement. We know the games will only get more difficult from here on out, so we are trying to increase our intensity in training and look at recordings from previous games to see what we could do better.
But Hannah and Busby both recognized that to be successful, it takes more than going all-in on practice. “We are all without a doubt a bit dejected like we are after any rugby match, so we take the time to recuperate and make sure our bodies are ready for the rest of the tournament,” revealed Hannah. Busby added that the team’s supportive environment has been key to their success. “We celebrate each other and our improvements as a team! We believe in encouragement and urgency. We want to show that we can do it because we believe in each other, ”she exclaimed.
After a difficult year and a half for everyone, the Brewers are grateful for the opportunity to compete for the national title. “Honestly, it’s so amazing to be able to play rugby again! It was really encouraging to see so many people participating in the game, and we appreciate all the support from the Vassar community! Thompson said.
The Brewers will then advance to the quarterfinals of the American Collegiate Rugby Association tournament at 9 a.m. on November 20 at Vassar Farm.
The strong season for the Vassar field hockey team got even stronger last weekend when they won the Liberty League championship. The Brewers are 13-6 this season, but despite their high winning streak, they have been even better than their record showed. Each of their six losses has been by a single point, including three that were doubled in overtime.
The Brewers started the Liberty League tournament strong with a 4-0 loss to St. Lawrence University in the semifinals to set up a showdown with Ithaca College in the final. In the regular season, Ithaca beat Vassar 1-0, but the Brewers had the final say with a thrilling 1-0 overtime victory to claim the Liberty League championship. Everything was defensive during the first four quarters, neither team gave up despite a few good shots on goal. During extra time, Hailey Brigger ’24 slipped the ball into the lower left corner of the goal to win the game.
When asked what she thought of winning the Liberty League title, Carina D’souza ’22 said: “It’s an indescribable feeling. I’m really lucky to have won my first year, but this year has felt so different. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs as a team, but knowing we were able to weather tough losses and beat the number one seed was a special feeling that I will cherish forever. Kate Neikirk ’24 agreed, explaining: “It’s really exciting, especially since we are such a young team! Our upper class students knew what it took to get there and what it felt like right now, so being able to experience the trip together was so much fun. Neikirk and D’souza also highlighted how gratifying it is to see their hard work pay off. “There were some aspects of our game that we struggled with throughout the season, and they didn’t really click until our first game of the playoffs. Giving so much time and seeing it finally bear fruit has been so rewarding, ”admitted D’souza. Likewise, Neikirk revealed that “It took a lot of really hard work and we had a few bumps in the road but we really got together and fixed all the little things which were the best part of it all!”
With the victory of the conference tournament, Vassar received an automatic bid for the NCAA Division III National Tournament. They will host Endicott College at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10. As the national tournament approaches, the Brewers plan to stick with what got them there. “We don’t change too much, we mostly stick to what we know and our basics. They took us here and we all trust each other so much, so we know we’ve got what it takes! Neikirk declared. D’souza agreed, saying: “We know what got us here so we stuck to our game plan. We’re trying to define the details that can make the difference between winning and losing right now. But most of all, we focus on having fun and hard work, because any game could be our last.
Additional reporting by Jackie Molloy.