April 30th: Amherst v. Williams (W 36-0)
The Amherst women headed to Williamstown early yesterday morning for the final game of the season against archrival Williams College. Amherst has failed to defeat Williams for the past four years, at times tying them or losing by narrow margins. Additionally, the team learned in Friday practice that not only was this the last chance for current seniors to earn a Williams jersey, but also that Steve Kohr, the Amherst women's coach of four years, will be relocating and cannot return next season, making this his final game with the team. Understandably, the Amherst women went into this match with a strong sense of purpose, and a full squad of twenty-five players – not to mention many faithful parents and cheerleaders – turned out ready to play. The weather conditions in Williamstown were good, with a soft pitch and partially sunny skies.
From the opening whistle, Amherst dominated the play. The team quickly put Williams on the defensive on their half of the field, where they would remain for the vast majority of the match. For a short period the Williams defense managed to prevent the Amherst forwards from wrestling their way into the try zone, but not long after the game began full back Kate Scheffey (’11) successfully kicked for points after a penalty call. Williams had little response to Amherst’s constant pressure, and by the end of the first half the Amherst women had racked up three tries. The first of these was scored by flanker Anya Goldberg (’13), who quickly picked the ball and touched it down after a long series of breakdowns by the Amherst forwards had pushed the play all the way to the Williams try line. The second was run in by outside center Melanie Lyles (’11), after a kick by fly-half Clara Rowe (’11) sent the ball far down the field where it bounced erratically, evading the hands of the Williams defense. After a scramble, Lyles emerged with the ball, stiff-arming her way past the Eph’s right wing for a successfully try. Scheffey successfully converted both kicks. Before the half was over, Amherst once again pushed the ball back into the Williams try zone. This time a Williams player was able to put hands on it, but a well-timed tackle knocked the ball to the ground where prop Sasha Margolina (’11) dove on it and brought the score to 22-0.
In the second half, Amherst easily continued its strong performance. The team improved its maul execution from last week and the scrum pack proved more than a match for Williams. Lineout jumper Anna Savage (’12) and hooker Jenney Shamash (’11) made sure that Amherst maintained ball possession on all of the team’s static plays. Amherst’s last two tries were both scored by inside center Elena Villafana (’14). Villafana evaded the Williams defense in a fifteen-meter dash to score the first, and was able to score the second on the very left edge of the pitch after a well-timed pass from left wing Alison Flint (’11). Scheffey converted the kicks on both of these tries, the second of which was the final one of her Amherst rugby career and was made at an extreme angle, mere feet from the pitch's left sideline. The final score at the whistle was 36-0: more points than Williams has scored on Amherst in the last four years of matches.
The Amherst women celebrated jubilantly, receiving a well-earned set of Williams jerseys, and Coach Steve Kohr gave an emotional victory speech. Amherst has enjoyed an excellent spring season, with six wins and three losses. The ACWRFC will be graduating nine senior ruggers, all of whom have given sweat, blood and tremendous heart to the team: Alison Flint, Clara Rowe, Jenney Shamash, Kate Scheffey, Keemi Ereme, Melanie Lyles, Michelle Fernandez, Sasha Margolina and Zandi Ekwa. We congratulate them on a picture-perfect final game, wish them luck in their future endeavors (hopefully many of which will be rugger-related) and look forward to seeing everyone else for another great season of rugby in the fall! For photos and videos of Amherst eph-ing Williams in this rivalry match, check the pictures section in the left-hand sidebar!
Yale Round Robin
This weekend, the Amherst women's rugby team went down to New Haven to play against two forty-minute scrimmages against Yale and MIT. The weather proved challenging for everyone involved, with cold temperatures and constant rain that turned the pitch into mud and standing water. Amherst matched up against MIT first (and, of course, within the first three minutes of the opening whistle everyone was totally covered in mud!) The teams were well-matched, although Amherst had the upper hand and spent a good portion of the game on the offensive. Flyhalf Mia Certo ('13) kicked for points off of a penalty incurred by MIT, putting the only points of the game on the scoreboard for Amherst. MIT was nearly able to score in the last minute of the game, having been awarded a penalty only five meters from the Amherst try zone, but the Amherst defense was able to hold off their opponents until the whistle was blown.
Ten minutes later, Amherst began its game against Yale, a strong DI team. Amherst put in a good effort, but the team was not on the top of its game and became disorganized in the chaotic conditions. Yale dominated the game 24-0, although Amherst put together several strong cycles when able to organize its rucks and forward pods. Amherst enjoyed a thoroughly soggy pizza social - the players, not the pizza - with Yale after the game, and by the end of the day everyone was happy to jump in the cars and crank up the heat.
This week the ACWRF prepares for its final game of the season, a match against perennial rival Williams College. Amherst plans to put in extra practices and bring back several injured players (now rested) for this important match. See you in Williamsburg!
Beast of the East: Day 2
This morning, Amherst played their third game of the Beast of the East Tournament: a match against Holy Cross, whom Amherst had defeated 11-5 only one week prior. Once again, the two teams proved to be very evenly matched. The Amherst squad brought its A-game despite several player injuries and absences. Holy Cross had the edge when it came to ball possession early on, driving hard to make it to the Amherst try zone. Amherst players, however, responded with a sustained and gritty defense. By the end of the first half, both teams were scoreless. About five minutes into the second, fly-half Kate Scheffey ('11) put Amherst on the scoreboard with a kick for three points. Ten, minutes later, however, Holy Cross snuck in a try after the ball, having been held up for several seconds by a jumble of people in the Amherst try zone, was fumbled, giving a nearby Holy Cross player the chance to touch it down. Amherst fought hard to regain their lead; whereas the team spent most of the first half on the defensive, during the second Amherst pushed the play back onto Holy Cross' end of the pitch. Unfortunately, the whistle was blown before Amherst could put any more points on the scoreboard, and Amherst's run at this year's Beast of the East was ended. The team played together superbly, and can now take some well-deserved rest and relaxation. Next weekend, the Amherst women make the trip to play the second-last game of the season at Yale.
Beast of the East: Day 1
Amherst, despite facing miserable weather, schedule delays and a distinct lack of sleep from the drive up the night before, started off the annual Beast of the East spring tournament with two strong victories. In the first game, Amherst faced, and defeated, Plymouth State with a final score of 10-5. The halves moved extremely quickly, being only fifteen minutes long, and flanker Anna Savage (’12) scored a try for Amherst before halftime was called. Fly-half Kate Scheffey (’11) completed the conversion kick. Amherst’s forward pack put together particularly strong scrums throughout the game, winning all of their own scrums and managing to drive forward and steal ball possession during several of Plymouth’s. In the second half, Amherst widened its lead after Scheffey scored the team another three points when Plymouth State incurred a penalty near their own try line. Plymouth State scored their own try off of a long run down the left side of the pitch, but the match ended with Amherst still in control.
In the second game, Amherst comfortably defeated Fordham University 11-0. Amherst dominated, playing almost the entire game on Fordham’s end of the pitch. This match was longer than the previous – twenty-five minute halves. Inside center Elena Villafana (’14) burst through the Fordham defense to run in a try for Amherst in the first half. Fly-half Kate Scheffey twice more successfully kicked for points. The Amherst defense did not allow Fordham to gain any ground. Tomorrow, Amherst will face Holy Cross in an elimination match to decide who will continue.
April 9th: Amherst v. Holy Cross (W 11-5)
This weekend Amherst rugby fans came out to watch the women's squad match up against Holy Cross, the last home game of the season and the last game before next week's Beast of the East Collegiate Rugby Tournament. Holy Cross, a capable team who were Division III champions at Beast of the East in 2009, came out strong and offered a tough challenge for Amherst. The teams went back and forth for more than thirty minutes before Amherst scored its first and only try, touched down by Elena Villafana ('14) after being kicked down the field by fly-half Clara Rowe ('11) and right wing Larissa Davis ('13). The game proved to be intensely physical and gritty, with neither team backing down their intensity as time went on. Amherst's pack improved on its performance last week, winning almost all of its scrums and a couple of Holy Cross'. However, the rucks were a particular source of disorganization for both teams, preventing Amherst from recycling the ball as cleanly as in last week's game against Wellesley. Amherst widened its lead during the second half with a penalty kick by full-back Kate Scheffey ('11), but Holy Cross later responded with a try of its own, made by one of its backs on a wide run down the left-hand side of the field. Holy Cross did not complete the conversion kick, however, and by the end of the game the Amherst women slightly widened their lead with another penalty kick, this time made by full-back Mia Certo ('13). Both teams continued to fight on until the final whistle, after which the Amherst women retired to Souperbowl for some serious icing, re-hydrating and calorie recovery. Amherst will use the upcoming week to rest its players, improve the team's game strategy and finalize the lineup for next week's Beast of the East Tournament in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. For more information about the tournament, visit their website at the following link: http://beastoftheeast.net/boe.
April 2nd: Amherst v. Wellesley (W 43-15)
This Saturday the ACWRFC enjoyed perfect conditions for their home game against Wellesley on Pratt field, with great spring weather in the 50s and slightly soft ground from recent rains. Because Amherst did not have enough players to field a B-side team, prior to the game both sides agreed to allow free subbing in order to accommodate Wellesley's desire to give more of their members a chance to play. Wellesley started the game with an immediate offensive push that came only ten meters from the Amherst try zone, but the women of the Amherst team responded with gritty defense, and a kick from fly-half Clara Rowe ('11) soon cleared the ball well into Wellesley's half of the field. From this point onward, Amherst's strong offense dominated the play. Inside center Elena Villafana ('14) scored the first try of the game off of a pass from Clara Rowe, evading multiple tackles during her fifteen meter run to the Wellesley try zone. Full-back Kate Scheffey ('11) completed the conversion kick. Although Wellesley managed to score a try of their own ten minutes later, by the end of the first half Amherst was ahead 24-5 after additional tries were scored by scrum-half Sally Chung ('12), prop Sasha Margolina ('11) and hooker Jenny Shamash ('11).
Amherst's dominance continued into the second half, with outside center Melanie Lyles ('11) running the ball to score a try and second row Keemi Ereme ('11) breaking through the Wellesley defense after a series of strong cycles put together by the Amherst forwards. New full-back Mia Certo ('13) completed both of these conversion kicks. At this point, Amherst brought in its substitute players, rookies and new scrum-half Alex Wong ('14). Wellesley responded by substituting back in many of it's A-side players, but Amherst was able to hold their own and play a strong game. The team stole the ball during multiple Wellesley lineouts, giving them frequent possession, and flanker Ari Robey-Lawrence ('12) made Amherst's final try by kicking the ball to herself and outracing the Wellesley defense. Amherst gave up two tries by the end of the second half, bringing the score to 43-15, but finished on a strong note on Wellesley's end of the field.
This game constituted a significant improvement over the match against Wellesley in the fall, when Amherst won by only a narrow margin. Next weekend Amherst will play another home game against Holy Cross.
March 26: Amherst v. Vassar (L 44-5)
The ACWRFC kicked off its spring season with an away game at Vassar College. It quickly became apparent that Vassar's main strategy was to get the ball to the outside extremes of the field in order to give their two fastest players, their scrum-half and left wing, the opportunity to make long runs down the pitch. This tactic proved effective: all of Vassar's tries, including the four that Amherst yielded during the first half of the game, were scored by the same two players. Amherst's offense, however, was able to find its footing and put together multiple strong cycles, including a try scored twenty five minutes in by Anna Savage off a pass from Keemi Ereme. Amherst's focus on mauling techniques during the previous week's practice also paid off, as the team was able to drive up the field several times using swift mauls. Despite the score, Amherst was playing well and dominated the end of the second half with a relentless offensive drive and effective rucking. Next Saturday, Amherst will have a chance to build on this weekend's experience during a home game against Wellesley.