While they may not have won it all, the Summit High School girls’ rugby team came back from nationals in Racine, Wisc., with memories that will last them a lifetime.
“We’ll never forget it,” said team captain Katy Peoples. “The experience was more important than the games.”
Summit entered the tournament ranked #5. The girls won one of their three games on the weekend in the eight-team playoff format.
“They were a class act,” said head coach Karl Barth.
After scoring first in their opening round match-up, the girls lost a hard-fought game to Wisconsin native #4 Catholic Memorial, 12-5.
“We weren’t used to an aggressive counter,” said Peoples. It was a higher level of competition that the girls didn’t quite have an answer for in their first game. Some of it may have also been do to rust.
A big disadvantage the squad faced going into the weekend was that it was the only team not to have a spring season. Most of the girls on the team play other sports in the spring and the other teams at nationals were just finishing their spring rugby seasons.
“We realized really quickly we had to bring our heads back together,” said senior Hailey Wyatt.
In their second game, the consolation semi-semi finals, the girls did just that. They rallied to overcome a 12 to nothing deficit and win 15-12 in overtime, against Daneville, from the Bay Area.
“The first half was aweful,” said Peoples.
Junior, Lily Weldon said the team rallied with a “you gotta want it” attitude that brought them together to pull off the come-from-behind win.
“They gave it their all,” said Barth.
Another big challenge for the Lady Tigers was the style of play.
“I learned a different kind of rugby,” said junior Lily Weldon, about the competition.
Used to playing a smaller, faster game, the girls said the competition at nationals was bigger and stronger than the competition they were used to. The teams at nationals played a more bruising, hard-hitting game.
“For a team that was out of season, and not as big, they played incredibly well,” said Barth.
“We adapted,” said Weldon.
In their third game, for fifth place, the competition proved too strong. The girls lost to Sacramento, a combination of clubs from the Sacramento, Calif., area, 32-10.
“The girls were bigger,”said sophomore Morgan Courtney.
“They were huge,” Peoples elaborated. “It was like getting hit by a car.”
But it was that level of competition that the girls were looking for, and they rose to the occasion.
“A huge reason we went to nationals was the challenge,” said Weldon.
“We usually go in knowing we’re going to win,” said Wyatt. Nationals were different.
More than any game result, the girls came back with an experience that was priceless. They said it was an unbelievably memorable bonding experience. And just having the opportunity to compete against the best in the nation was satisfying enough.
“We celebrated even when we lost,” said Weldon.
The girls credited the support they received from the community to make their trip possible. They were also grateful to all the rugby alumni who returned the week before nationals for a scrimmage game.
“It prepared us a lot,” said Weldon.
For Wyatt and the girls, pride in accomplishment was the most important.
“I never felt like I did after this weekend.”
“We’ll never forget it. The experience was more important than the games.”
— Katy Peoples, Summit High School girls’ rugby player