Members of the Summit girls rugby team adapt to new teams at largest tournament in North America
The Summit girls rugby team is used to playing as a complete unit. This was evident when the team won its 14th straight state title last fall and placed second at the 22nd annual High School Girls Rugby National Tournament back in May.
However, this past weekend in Salt Lake City, members of the Summit girls rugby team were faced with a different kind of challenge. From Friday, July 22, to Saturday, July 23, 16 players from the Summit girls rugby team competed in the North American Invitational 7’s rugby tournament — the largest youth rugby tournament in North America that included 160 teams playing across eight divisions.
With only seven players allowed on the field at each time, commonly called 7’s in the rugby world, the team was forced to separate and play on different teams. The 16 Summit Tigers at the tournament went on to join six different teams in three different divisions.
Leading the way was Paola Arredondo’s team, The Rugby Advantage. Arredondo played in the girls U18 division and helped Rugby Advantage to advance all the way to the U18 elite cup playoffs after going 3-0 in pool play.
It was in the elite cup playoffs where Arredondo got the opportunity to face off against a few familiar faces. In the semifinal round, Rugby Advantage faced Atlantis Rugby U18, which featured Summit’s Joselin Roque and Ashley Misch.
The two teams battled in the semifinal match, but Arredondo and Rugby Advantage could not be stopped. Arredondo’s team beat Atlantis Rugby by a score of 15-5 in an effort that helped them advance to the championship match.
Arredondo found more success in the championship match. She helped her team beat the Utah Cannibals, 21-17, to secure the U18 elite cup playoffs.
Atlantis Rugby played in the third-place match and routed Badger Rugby Academy, 36-5.
“Playing down in the tournament was a big opportunity,” incoming junior Misch said. “It opened a lot of doorways. A lot of coaches got to see you play, and you got to meet new people. A whole new world of rugby opened up.”
Playing against one another provided a unique experience for members of the Summit girls rugby team.
“It was so cool seeing my teammates play against us with their teams,” incoming senior Citlali Licea said. “It proved to me how amazing these girls are because we were all put into a situation that we had to learn how to adapt to our new team, and they did it beautifully.”
Also playing in the girls U18 division was Kenzie Riccardi, who played for the Rhinos Rugby Academy. Her team placed third overall in the U18 cup playoffs after going 3-0 in pool play for an overall record of 5-1.
Licea, Linda Chivara, Nataly Alderete and Brooke Kasprzyk all joined Rugby Colorado Academy and played hard in the highly contested U18 division but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, going 0-3 in pool play.
“It was a very hot weekend, and a lot of the players were battling against keeping up our energy for the games,” Licea said. “Other than that, it was a pretty good weekend. We didn’t win any games unfortunately, but I think we all had something to take away from the games.”
For Licea specifically, she feels like she learned how to communicate with new people and how to adapt to a brand new team.
The rest of the Tigers played in the younger U16 and U14 divisions. The Atlantis Rugby U16 team was made up of five Tigers, including Viola Koning, Rose Rode, Luci Brady, Lucia Hoffman and Delilah Staberg.
The U16 Atlantis Rugby team played extremely well with one another, going 3-0 in pool play and 5-1 overall. The team’s one loss of the weekend was in the semifinal round, when the team lost a close game to the Sac Pal Amazons. Atlantis Rugby lost, 14-10, to Sac Pal but bounced back in the third-place match to beat Rhinos Rugby Academy, 15-5.
Teagan Barth, Rowan Connelly and Sierra Reil made up part of the Atlantis Rugby U14 girls team. The team went 2-1 in pool play and 3-3 overall to round out the performances for the Summit girls rugby team.
The tournament in Utah provided a competitive atmosphere and also prepared the girls for the upcoming fall rugby season.
“It gave me motivation to start working even harder,” Licea said. “It made me more excited to play to be honest. We go to a tournament called Peak 7’s every year, and we play some of the same teams that we played in this tournament. I am excited to play those teams with my own teammates.”
With the final off-season tournament now in the rearview mirror, the Summit girls rugby team will shift its focus to securing a 15th straight state title — and the team could not be more ready.
“I am super excited,” Licea said. “I have been playing since my freshman year, so the girls around me are the ones I learned to play with. I am really excited to face those challenges head on and win another state title to keep the record going.”
The Summit girls rugby team will begin its fall season on Aug. 9 with the first day off practice. The team will then have a Green vs. White scrimmage on Sept. 1 before hosting its first home games at the Summit 7’s Tournament on Sept. 17.
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