Summit High School girls rugby sweeps 3 games at Regis Jesuit
Tigers 2nd varsity wins 1 of 3 against Monarch
The Summit High School rugby program returned to action down on the Front Range Saturday, April 10, with the top varsity side winning all three of its games at Regis Jesuit.
In Aurora, the Summit girls defeated the Raiders 34-0, 34-0 and 34-7 in a rollicking showcase of fluid, down-the-line rugby replete with communication between passes. It’s that east-and-west communication on the pitch that Tigers head coach Karl Barth and players said was the primary focus of practice this week after Denver East defeated Summit in the final of three games — Summit won the other two — last Saturday, April 3. Barth said the Tigers were shorthanded on their coaching staff in the lead up and for the East game due to COVID-19 quarantines. That, combined with the weekend being their first games back versus outside competition, resulted in the talented East team exposing some of Summit’s weaknesses.
Barth said the team came into this week with a different mindset to collectively defend and play within roles rather than individual players trying to do too much.
“Last week I thought we had a lot of kids trying to go big and they would shoot out of the line and then the team would be exposed and scrambling,” Barth said. “So this week was much more about how to work together.”
Barth said the Tigers girls are still learning how to play with each other and understand how to set up teammates’ strengths and not put them in positions they aren’t as strong in. Barth was also happy with the team’s ability to create offense off of defensive disruption, springing multiple long scoring runs on the day.
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Barth, senior Brielle Quigley and senior Ellie Francis said Summit’s second win over the Raiders was their best of the day. The Tigers saw speedy junior wing Olyvia Snyder kickstart the scoring in that contest, one where Francis, Bryton Ferrari, Millie Carleton and Rilla Long also scored tries.
In the first win over Regis Jesuit, Quigley scored three tries and was joined by Ferrari, Snyder and Deanna Davidson. Quigley tacked on two more tries in the final game, which saw scoring from Snyder, Long and emerging contributors Regan Jackson and Cristal Gomez.
Barth said it was nice having Snyder’s dynamic attack and defense back on the pitch to help make up for the loss of Mackenna Orr, who was out with a concussion. Barth also credited Jackson and Davidson for stepping in for Orr out on the wing, as Francis and Quigley said the team made a concerted effort to play out wide and use their speed.
Barth and Quigley said much of Saturday’s scoring outburst manifested from thing the team’s focus on offloading the ball and keeping offensive possession alive without slow phases of scrumming and rucking.
“And we started playing like that,” Quigley said. “It didn’t take us one game to get there.”
The Tigers are hoping to play back at Tiger Stadium in Breckenridge for intrasquad games — including a senior night contest — on Wednesday, April 14, but Barth said that may be postponed due to the county’s level orange COVID-19 restrictions. With the county now in level orange, Barth said the team is playing as many games as it can down in the Denver area, including next Saturday’s games versus Regis and Palmer that were originally slated for Summit. The coach said the ability for more parents to attend games out of Summit is a big reason for the scheduling switch.
But outside of everyone wearing masks, Saturday’s action at Regis Jesuit looked and felt like a rugby game from two years ago, with many parents for both teams in the stands and around the track. Quigley said the festive environment, combined with the victories, resulted in a day that was fun for the team after going 18 months since their fall 2019 competition following the postponement of the season from last fall to this spring in response to the virus.
The Tigers’ top varsity side isn’t the only group contending with the state’s best. Summit’s second team, dubbed “Tigers,” played Monarch on Saturday and lost the opener 26-12, won the second game 26-21 and lost the third 17-15. Barth said the strength of the two Summit sides combined with Denver East and Monarch mean it appears there will be four teams contending for the state title by the end of the season. Barth said the second team’s play, led by scorers Isabella Comai and Lily Wiethake, has been impressive despite playing without injured captain Elisabeth Darst.
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