Women’s rugby vies for national title

Bryan Lipiner

If there is one motto that has circulated around the women’s rugby team since its inception, it’s the word “believe.”

It has been etched into the players’ minds and written on their shirts.

In fall 2012, the Bobcats topped Albany in the Tri-State Tournament Championship to complete an undefeated season. In the spring season, Quinnipiac has tallied three victories in as many weeks over Temple, Lee, and Appalachian State.

Although the Bobcats may not draw the biggest crowds, the women’s rugby team has not lost since Nov. 12, 2011. On May 3, Quinnipiac aims to continue its winning ways when it clashes against Winona State in the national semifinal, with a chance to take on the winner of Buffalo vs. Washington State in the championship game on May 4.

Quinnipiac head coach Becky Carlson believes the women’s rugby team was poised to be in such a spot since its first game in 2011.

“One of the questions my colleagues asked in my peer interview in 2010 was where I saw the program in the future,” Carlson said. “I told them I expected to be at least top-five in the nation in just a few seasons and would strive to bring home a national championship.”

In its past three games throughout the spring season and national tournament, Quinnipiac has outscored its opponents 91-10, including a 44-0 shutout over Temple.

“The team’s confidence has continued to remain the same throughout this entire journey,” Carlson said. “Momentum in rugby can change so quickly with all the collective energy out on the field, but our staff has seen it over and over this season where it has taken only one Bobcat in our pack to turn up the intensity.”

Dating back to the fall 2012 campaign, Natalie Kosko has lead the Bobcats with 85 points. Krystin Orrico trails with 80 points, while Nancy Dunn follows with 65. Kosko also leads Quinnipiac in trys with 17.

Across the field, Winona State defeated Indiana (Pa.) on April 12, 32-7. The next day, Winona State routed Denison 54-3 to advance to the national semifinal.

“Our biggest component is written all over our pregame tees: ‘BELIEVE,’” Carlson said. “They have had that word [ingrained] into their culture as a program since day 1. They trust each other and truly enjoy the game.”