CHARLESTON, Ill. – West Chester completed a dramatic come-from-behind victory to capture the first NCAA Women’s Rugby contest between two varsity programs, 20-19, and Lakeshore Field Saturday afternoon.
In its season opener on this historic occasion, West Chester fell behind early by a 12-0 score. However, a spirited effort allowed the Golden Rams to climb back into fray at 19-12 with three minutes to play in the second half, putting the visitors in position to steal the first NCAA contest in the sport’s history.
Eastern Illinois (2-1) dropped its first tilt of the 2007 campaign as a result of the loss.
“We dominated in almost every facet of the game,” West Chester head coach Tony DeRemer said. “We won almost every scrum and every lineout. (Eastern Illinois) was very fast, and that was how they scored their points.”
Golden Rams’ All-American Katy Black registered two trys, which pulled West Chester to within striking distance, 12-10. Whitney Hartshorne’s try with 19 minutes, 30 seconds remaining in the second half propelled the visitors into the lead for the first time at 15-12.
That is when Panthers’ leading scorer Samantha Manto recorded a try, and Victoria Rosales’ converted the point after to put Eastern Illinois back on top at 19-15.
West Chester’s Sasha Stauffer capped the see-saw second half battle with a try with just under five minutes remaining to put the Golden Rams in front for good, 20-19.
The Golden Rams had driven down the field, but stalled deep in Eastern Illinois’ end. The Panthers, who had experienced little success in scrums all day, shot the ball out of the back end of the ensuing get-together. However, the ball scooted over EIU’s try line, and Stauffer leaped on the loose ball for the score.
The hosts threatened in the game’s waning moments. However, West Chester’s defense held, and the Golden Rams preserved the win with a crucial stop near the end.
“Today was everything you could have asked for in terms of promoting our sport,” DeRemer said. “It was an exciting game that went back-and-forth. I think the people and the media there were treated to a really exciting match.”
Via EIU …
Golden Rams Defeat Panthers in 20-19 Thriller
Historic first-ever contest between two NCAA programs
CHARLESTON, Ill. — Sasha Sauffer’s five-point try with 4:27 left in the game propelled West Chester (Penn.) to a 20-19 victory over Eastern Illinois, in the historic first-ever NCAA women’s rugby contest. The large crowd of 1,237 at EIU’s Lakeside Field witnessed an intense, hard-fought contest between two equally talented squads
EIU’s Molly Clutter scored two tries in the first half as EIU took a 12-5 halftime lead, following a try by WCU’s Katy Black. After halftime, West Chester scored two consecutive five pointers off Black and Whitney Hartshorne to take a 15-12 lead.
That’s when EIU’s Samantha Manto scampered for a dramatic try to take a 19-15, following the two point conversion from Victoria Rosales. However, the Golden Rams (1-0) kept the pressure on and was able to take the lead as Sauffer jumped on the ball for the score following a scrum near the goal line.
“This was a great win… either team could have won,” said West Chester head coach Tony DeRemer. “Thankfully we were able to keep the ball away from EIU by taking advantage of scrum possessions. We kept the ball, which helped us win. We knew that EIU was a well coached squad and had incredible speed, so we made some adjustments to counter that speed with our tight defense and ball possession.”
Unofficially, WCU won 16 scrums to EIU’s six. The Panthers (2-1) had an advantage in tackles with 97 total compared to 35 for the Golden Rams, unofficially. Line-out possessions won were tied 13 apiece, once again, unofficially.
“What a great way to start NCAA play,” said EIU head coach Frank Graziano. “Both teams played their guts out today, either team could have won, unfortunately we came out on the short end. We were ungunned and we were unable to take advantage of our speed game. Our forwards did an amazing job all afternoon. I’m so proud of this squads determination and grit… I could not have asked for anything more than what our team displayed out on that field today.”
Coach Graziano also ruminated on the importance of the game as compared to the final score. “This was a great game, you could see the difference of talent as compared to club rugby. The score is secondary as compared to getting this game on the record books. Obviously it’s a much more interesting contest as compared to a 73-0 score, and today was a perfect example of how exciting this sport can be. I’m hopefully other teams around the nation take note and join up at this level.”
The Panthers will take a few days off before preparing for their next context on Friday when they travel to Indiana.
And a great photo of the first scrum between the two teams …
First Photo: Via West Chester’s Recap, Senior Flyhalf Whitney Hartshorne.
Second Photo: Via EIU’s recap, first scrumdown between EIU and West Chester in first NCAA women’s rugby match.