Summit girls rugby surfs ‘eye of the hurricane’ en route to Summit 7s championship
FRISCO — Head coach Karl Barth said the Summit High School Tigers girls rugby program often talks about a concept called the “eye of the hurricane.” The idea is that the Tigers play in a high-speed fashion that creates a devastating pace for their opponents.
“But we are settled right inside of that, just being real calm,” Barth said. “And I thought they did a real good job of that.”
Barth was alluding to the triumph of the Tigers top rugby sevens team Saturday at the annual Summit 7s rugby tournament. At Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge, Summit marched its way through pool play before knocking off elite rival United Girls Rugby Club of Utah.
Summit defeated United in a nightcap at Tiger Stadium that Barth described as “electric” with the two sides battling it out until the final whistle.
The championship match began with a try and conversion for a 7-0 lead after United used its physicality to barrel in for a score in the early going. The Tigers responded when speedy junior Kily Hess broke free for a long run. The drive was eventually capped by a score by Tigers senior PK Vincze, but a failed conversion attempt by senior leader Nicole Kimball left the Tigers down, 7-5.
After back-and-forth action to begin the second half, Kimball responded, making a break on the outside to put United on its heels. When United’s sweeper decided to crash out on Kimball, the senior passed the ball back inside to Hess, who jetted under the post for another score and the eventual final winning margin of 12-7, following a successful Kimball conversion.
Reflecting on the victory Tuesday morning, Barth said he was elated at the rugby IQ and the tenacity the Tigers exuded throughout the day Saturday, particularly during that nerve-wracking nightcap. He pointed at first-year, top-team players Brielle Quigley and Bryton Ferrari, a pair of speedy players at scrumhalf and flyhalf, who exuded focus and confidence as lynchpins of the Tigers attack.
“They are not that big, but they bring ferocity to the game,” Barth said. “They come in there and think they are the biggest kid in there and they are going to knock everyone out, even if it doesn’t always work.”
In that spirit and style, Summit’s top sevens side responded at the outset of Saturday’s action after Fort Collins scored in the first game’s opening moments. Barth said the team played well after that wake-up call, countering right away with a long run to tie the contest, which eventually ended with Summit on top, 38-5.
As the day played out, the Tigers also had what Barth said might have been their most impressive result of the day: a shutout of eventual third-place finisher Wasatch High School from Utah, 33-0. Also en route to the final, Summit defeated Monarch, which they took on in last fall’s Colorado state championship. Barth said the team rose to the challenge of Monarch’s physicality, controlling the feel of the game, ultimately winning 26-7 to book that date in the final with the tournament’s only other undefeated side, United.
Against United, the Tigers stuck with a veteran group of players led by three vital, experienced seniors in Kimball, Vincze and Natalie Anderson.
“The intensity was just amazing,” Barth said. “It’s one of those where you think, ‘fresh legs would be good,’ but you don’t really want to tinker. And it’s tough to go into that game with just how ferocious it was and the pace it was being played at. The pace was just unbelievable. And the girls were holding their own. Their fitness was good, so we kind of just left it alone, decided to ride it out. And it worked out.”
The Tigers play next on Saturday at the Terror 7s tournament at Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs with action slated to run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Summit will return for its homecoming game versus Glenwood Springs at 6 p.m. Oct. 8.
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