Summit girls rugby contends with nation’s best at Little Rock tournament
Tigers finish season with thrilling overtime win against Iowa all-stars
The Summit High School varsity girls rugby team concluded the season with an instant-classic win over an all-star team from Iowa at the Falcon 7s Tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas, this past weekend.
The Tigers were one of two high school teams to compete in the elite-level, high school age division at the tournament at the American Rugby Pro Training Center. Playing four games Saturday, June 26, and two games Sunday, June 27, in hot, humid conditions, the Tigers went 3-3 against exclusively club teams.
The weekend concluded Sunday when Tigers rising junior Lily Wiethake corralled a loose ball near the try line to score the game-winning try in overtime against the Iowa Hawkettes — the second win over Iowa in back-to-back days — for a 26-21 sudden-death victory.
“We played great defense and drove them back, and they finally turned the ball over,” Tigers head coach Karl Barth said. “Then Lily — who set up both of our first two tries — she fed Olyvia Snyder, and they knew where it was going. The girl just barely got Olyvia before the line, and it popped up to Lily, and she scored.”
The score was the exclamation point on the weekend for Wiethake. It also was the final play in an epic ending to the final game of the careers of seven Tigers seniors.
“Looking back, we’re a smallish high school, single-school team, and we stood toe to toe with some pretty renowned programs,” Barth said. “Iowa is a team that hasn’t lost a whole lot. They weren’t too happy losing to us — especially when we weren’t another all-star team. We got really pushed and beat up a lot, but all in all, we thought it was a fabulous experience.
“It was exactly what we were kind of hoping for, I guess — one last hurrah with this squad, get tested and figure out what you are made of.”
The season-ending victory over the Hawkettes took everything the Tigers had after Iowa was energized for the game when Summit defeated Iowa, 15-7, the day before. The Tigers did so Saturday on the strength of rising senior Jenna Sheldon stepping up in place of injured graduated senior Deanna Davidson, who was lost for the weekend with an ankle injury. Barth said Summit graduated senior Ellie Francis also helped the team to the win over Iowa on Saturday with her defensive play.
In the rematch Sunday, each team scored to exchange the lead. Barth said the rising senior Snyder’s defense on the wing kept Summit in the game before Summit tied it on the final play of regulation. Summit graduated senior Rilla Long barreled over the try line, similar to a goal-line-type situation in football, after Tigers senior graduate Bryton Ferrari called on Long to make the play. Ferrari converted the point-after kick to send the game to overtime.
Summit’s other win on the weekend was a 40-0 triumph Saturday against the USA South All-Stars. The Tigers’ losses began with a weekend-opening 24-17 affair versus the home team, American Pro Rugby Training Center, which featured some of the best high school age players from across the country. Summit mounted a comeback to pull within 19-17 before a gamble on the final kickoff of the game led to an opponent try.
Summit lost to Rhino Academy from southern California on Saturday in a similar fashion. The Tigers pulled within 20-15 late and opted not to take the point-after kick with the hopes of having enough time to make a play on the ensuing kickoff. The referee blew the whistle before Summit could kick away.
The Tigers then lost in their Sunday opener 12-7 to the South Panther Rugby Academy Elite team.
Barth said the team’s MVP for the weekend was graduated senior Brielle Quigley, who scored four tries and played more minutes in the weekend marathon of games than any other Tiger. Barth said Snyder’s defense was crucial to helping the Tigers score tries, while Ferrari’s kicking and leadership was integral.
Barth sad the team dubbed the three girls who were called up from the Tigers’ gold second side — Wiethake, Joselin Roque and Isabella Comai — the “Golden Girls” and said the newcomers played well in the step up to the elite level.
Other Tigers graduates to join the team for one final weekend included Maleena Mero and Lily Hess, who returned to the team after missing all of the spring state championship season with an injury.
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