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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Quinnipiac rugby muddies Sacred Heart’s perfect season 22-17

Peyton McKenzie
Quinnipiac rugby versus Harvard on Saturday, September 2, 2023.

HAMDEN, Conn — Quinnipiac senior fullback Kat Storey’s hard hits symbolized the rugby team’s gritty victory over Sacred Heart on a cloudy Saturday afternoon to improve to .500 on the season 22-17.

The Bobcats relied mostly on defense today, standing tall with their backs to the try zone whenever the Pioneers tried to get anything going. Most possessions ended with a Pioneer losing grip on the muddy ball off a toss or a clean tackle by Quinnipiac.

The match took a little while to open up, with neither team giving an inch early on. That is until Storey ran the first of her two tries for Quinnipiac after eight minutes had passed on the muddy pitch. 

Sacred Heart did not take this lying down, at least at first. The visitors forced a turnover to get the ball in good position, and freshman lock/prop Reece Woods managed to punch it in for the Pioneers to tie the game.

Quinnipiac quickly responded with a try of its own, this time by its own freshman, wing Breauna Wertman, and from then on it became a cycle. Sacred Heart would try something, but the Bobcat defense would stand tall. Then Quinnipiac would drive the field and not be able to reach the try zone. Defense-minded people feasted on the sound of heavy tackles and gritty scrums.

Where the Bobcats beat out the Pioneers was ball control. It was a common sight during the first half to see Sacred Heart try to kick the ball, only to see a Bobcat arrive just in time to block it and kill momentum.

According to head coach Becky Carlson, the plan was about possession.

“Starting from a standpoint of taking care of the ball, we noticed a lot we went into contact, and whether that was because the ball was incredibly muddy or because we weren’t sure-footed out on this terrain today…we definitely have to clean that up,” Carlson said. “It’s about possession.”

Despite a try for Sacred Heart by senior wing Fabiola Millien-Faustin at the death of the first half, that plan “never changed.”

The second half started with more of the same: Blocked kicks by Quinnipiac and slippery balls that Sacred Heart could not handle. The battle for the lead waged for over 10 minutes, but sophomore center/wing Cassidy Dugdale managed to squeeze into the try zone after an earlier attempt.

The match continued to be hard-fought and gritty with nearly every player finishing the game with mud-soaked jerseys.

“This is what rugby’s all about,” Carlson said. “This is where we get to see who’s made of what when you’re in the middle of the field and it feels like you’re running in sync.”

Storey became a heat seeking missile an hour into the contest, landing a big hit that not only gave Quinnipiac the ball, but set up her own try just three minutes later.Carlson emphasized that Storey and the rest of the team didn’t want a repeat of Dartmouth’s dominating win the week prior

“She absolutely turned it around,” Carlson said. “It was a complete 180 from last week’s performance.”

After the Bobcats’ lone conversion by junior utility back Fódhla Ní Bhraonáin, it looked like Quinnipiac took its foot off the gas a bit. Sacred Heart junior fullback Alyssa Cunningham smashed one in for the Pioneers with three minutes to go in the contest, and they kept pushing relentlessly to try and squeak out a win.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Sacred Heart had a chance to hit the try-zone and set up a game-winning conversion, but the Bobcats stood tall, closed the gap, and ended the game and the Pioneers’ undefeated streak.

The win also cemented Quinnipiac’s five-game winning streak against Sacred Heart dating back to 2021. However, this was the first contest where the Bobcats scored less than 30 points against the Pioneers.

Saturday’s match was also only the second time Sacred Heart scored more than 12 points against Quinnipiac, the first being a 48-24 blowout win for the Bobcats.

Quinnipiac looks to keep the momentum going against the Army Black Knights Oct. 13 in West Point, NY. The game is slated to start at 6:30 p.m.


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Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

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