Women’s rugby looks for championship in second year

Gene Demaio

The Quinnipiac women’s rugby team has been dominant all season. In just the second year of the program, it’s outscored its opponents by 474 points, including a 130-0 win over Hofstra en route to a trip to the Tri-State Tournament Championship game on Sunday against Albany at Vassar College.

“Once the season started rolling, we realized that this was a real possibility, but we knew that we would have to keep our heads, not get ahead of ourselves and take each game one a time and not look too far ahead,” senior captain Colleen Doherty said. “Now that it is here, it is a phenomenal experience and we can’t wait to be apart of it and make history.”

Over the course of this spectacular season, no team has played the Bobcats closer than Albany. In the last game of the regular season, the Bobcats battled to a 27-10 win in Albany, which was the fewest points the Bobcats have been held to all season and the only time the opposing team finished within 20 points.

“Albany is a tough team competitively, both offensively and defensively, and won’t be taken lightly,” Doherty said. “We plan to go into this game like all the rest with a tough week of practice with conditioning and constantly working on the little things that make us better.”

With the way Albany played the Bobcats, it is only fitting that it receives a second chance to end the Bobcats’ perfect season.

Like Doherty said, to remain unbeaten, they will need to be well conditioned. Prior to their game against Marist, the Bobcats were out of action for two weeks; their game against Rutgers was canceled thanks to Hurricane Sandy. In the second half against Marist, the Bobcats showed some signs of rust, scoring only five points in the half compared to 25 in the first.

“We had to maintain our fitness,” head coach Becky Carlson said after the game. “This is a game where if you are not in the absolute top shape, it’s miserable. And you could see a little bit of that in the second half.” Coach Carlson will do everything to ensure her team is in excellent shape to avoid slowing down against Albany like it did against Marist.

The key focus for the Bobcats is going to be defense. Although the offense has been overshadowed, the Bobcats’ defense has been stifling. Albany is just one of three teams to score a try against Quinnipiac, with the other six games resulting in shutouts for the Bobcats. The team will look to tighten up its defense to make sure the Great Danes do not build upon their minor success.

On offense, Natalie Kosko will be instrumental. Kosko has had a phenomenal freshman season, scoring eight trys over the last three games, including two against Albany. Over those three games, she has accounted for almost 50 percent of her team’s offense. Kosko will need to continue her impressive season against Albany for the Bobcats to win.

Finding scoring outside of Kosko will be another factor to pay attention to. All of Quinnipiac’s biggest wins have been complete team efforts. The Bobcats will need to continue to play the same way if they wish to be crowned champions.

“I think both teams will come in with a lot of energy for the game but I believe our heart and belief to win will bring us home that championship,” Doherty said.