Summit girls rugby tops elite Utah side to win home 7s tournament
Summit ruggers to host match versus Monarch on Friday at Tiger Stadium
More than a dozen years into the Summit High School girls rugby state championship dynasty, the Tigers on Saturday, Sept. 11, exhibited another example of “next player up” en route to yet another tournament victory.
Summit sophomore Larissa Mero was the latest Tiger tasked with stepping up to the moment at Summit’s home Summit 7s tournament at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge. When Tigers senior leader Jenna Sheldon went down with an injury in the second of four victories on the day, a 28-0 triumph over Monarch, Summit was all of a sudden very thin at the important prop position. Enter Larissa Mero, the younger sister of Central Washington freshman Maleena Mero, a departed Tiger who helped lead Summit to a 13th-consecutive state championship last spring.
On Saturday, after the Tigers defeated Monarch, and after Summit won a hard-fought semifinal 33-10 over Denver East, it was Larissa Mero who scored the first try of the game in the tournament final versus the vaunted United Girls Rugby Club of Utah — a side that’s annually regarded as one of the best teams in the nation.
“The final, it definitely had nice intensity, like always,” Tigers girls rugby head coach Karl Barth said. “Everyone did a good job, but Larissa was forced into stepping up, and she stepped up huge.”
After Larissa Mero’s opening score of the title game, Tigers junior sweeper Paola Arredondo put the exclamation point on a standout debut affair at the pivotal sweeper position. Heading into the season, there was a question mark about how well Arredondo would step into the void left by departed sweeper and leader Brielle Quigley. But Arredondo rose to the occasion throughout Summit’s four convincing victories on Saturday to answer any question of if she can play at an elite, state championship level.
“Liv and Paola were just like live wires,” Barth said. “… Even when we did make our mistakes, (Paola) cleaned it up. And then, in attack, they were both really exciting.”
The “Liv” Barth referred to was Tigers senior star Olyvia Snyder. Snyder was a dominant force down the wing for Summit on Saturday. Snyder scored try after try, including a score in the win over United that helped to put the game out of reach.
On the play, Tigers senior leader Milly Carleton showcased her improved, dynamic playing style attacking the United defense. Carleton offloaded possession to Viola Koning, who passed to junior Joselin Roque who found Snyder down the wing for the nail-in-the-coffin score.
“I had a clear shot at the wing, and the sweeper was coming in hot, so I was trying to cut off the angle on the sideline,” Snyder said, “but I was able to step inside her and make it to the goal posts.”
Snyder said the Tigers’ main point of emphasis on the day was to maintain consistent communication out on the pitch. The communication leads to ideal support from one teammate to the next as the Tigers attacked holes in the opponent’s defense to create one scoring opportunity after another down the wing. Snyder said she was proud of how Summit did well Saturday despite the fact quite a few players of different ages hadn’t played with each other before.
The Tigers also benefited from an exceptional effort from senior Isabella Comai. Barth said Comai battled a sickness all week that kept her out of practice. After Comai tested negative day after day for COVID-19, she suited up for Summit on Saturday and showed out in big spots.
“She was like, ‘I’ll go as long as I can,'” Barth said. “She had a great day.”
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