The last time the KU women’s rugby team stepped on the pitch was Nov. 17 in a championship loss to the Lock Haven club, 8-7. After a long awaited return, the Golden Bears won six straight games and the entire Frostbite Tournament this past weekend. In four of the six games, KU shutout the opposing teams.
“We were eager to play together,” junior Sharyn Beodeker said. ”Especially when we win.”
KU traveled to Lancaster, Pa this past weekend for the Frostbite Tournament to start their Spring 2013 season. Other teams in the competition were the University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware. The tournament was pool play, so every team played each other at least one time. On Saturday, games were half the length of a normal 40-minute game as they were on Sunday.
On Saturday, KU had four games scheduled. The Golden Bears shutout Clarion, Indiana and the University of Delaware. Penn was the only team to score on KU all day Saturday and would be the only team to score on them all weekend. At the end of Saturday’s play, KU had outscored opponents 66-5.
Sunday started the true full-length competitions. Teams were paired up on the second day with teams that competed at their caliber. The University of Indiana was KU’s first game, and they won a one sided competition 18-0. This was also the fourth shutout of the weekend.
The biggest test KU faced all weekend was their second meeting with the University of Pennsylvania. After the first half, the Golden Bears were trailing for the first time the entire tournament. Penn scored two trys and completed one two point conversion to lead after the half 12-5.
“They had big pack players,” said Beodeker. “And they were hammering into us. We were arm tackling too much and it led to sloppy play.”
To get back in the game, KU needed to start clearing out the ruck and regain possession quicker after being tackled. After a few halftime adjustments, KU did just that. They virtually owned the ruck in the second, which led to many more opportunities to score.
In the second half, the Golden Bears scored 17 points and did not allow a single point. Scoring trys in the game for KU were senior Maggie Horvath, sophomore Maria Schweizerhof and freshmen Amber DeFabio. Freshman Mary Cate Matta kicked in two conversions for four points and even had a penalty for three points. KU won the game 22-12. Horvath was awarded Woman of the Match.
Other notable athletes for KU were junior Jessica Tolton and sophomore Tabetha Super. Tolton played excellent, though she did not score every game. Her aggresive play offensively led to a lot of meters gained on the field. Along with her defensive play, she was awarded Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Super was a huge help this weekend too. Her play as the fullback was exquisite, considering she often plays the wing. Super recorded several crucial tackles stopping multiple trys along the way. As a fullback, her position is similar to a safety, as she is the last defense before the tryline. Being as four teams did not score, she played her role to the fullest.
Senior pack captain Ashley Kellar had this to say after the tournament: “It was difficult to defeat four separate opponents, because each team has a different style of play. We as a team needed to adjust to each style and figure out how to win. The games we played were also a lot shorter than we were used to. So we needed to attack offensively, which is something we’ve struggled with as a team. I attribute our winning to our overall feeling as a team that we were disappointed with the end of last season. Losing the championship game left a lot of unfinished business. I think, as a team, we were hoping to prove we could be successful and winning this tournament was exactly what we needed.”
KU’s next opponent is East Stroudsburg University at home March 2. Their last meeting was close and KU squeaked out with a win in the last two minutes 15-14.
“I know that they’re an aggressive team,” Beodeker said. “It’s gonna be a close game. We just need to keep the momentum from last weekend.”
By Frank Lippincott