Summit rugby endures injuries to finish runner-up at Pink 7s tournament in Utah
BRECKENRIDGE — After a couple of weeks of high-focus, high-quality practice in the wake of its first in-state loss in 12 years, the Summit High School varsity girls rugby team ground out a runner-up finish at Saturday’s Pink 7s tournament in Salt Lake City.
With the elite tournament condensed to one day, the Tigers played five games on a long Saturday. To begin pool play’s three-game slate, Summit matched up with another wide-open, speed-based team in Brighton High School of Cottonwood Heights, Utah. Summit secured a 33-7 win.
“During those two weeks, we worked a lot on, ‘Let’s find different ways to score,’” Summit senior PK Vincze said. “So we worked a ton in practice scoring through the middle, and we were able to do that against Brighton.”
Beginning with the Brighton game, Summit senior Logan Simson said the team also executed its defensive launching well. In rugby, defensive launching involves a high-pressure strategy of forming a wall up in the opposing offensive’s face. That paid off in the second game, a 31-0 win over the East High School Rugby Club of Salt Lake City, a bigger, more physical team built in the style of many Utah sides.
“Especially with the girls being so big, to be able to set things up wide and play kind of our offensive game, we had to be up in their faces to get that momentum and score,” Simson said.
Summit then moved onto the final game of pool play, a pivotal contest against the program many regard as the second-best team in Utah, Majestics of Highland, Utah. A massive, physical team, Summit made enough plays to pull out a 28-10 win, one that swung on an exciting interception by Olyvia Snyder that the sophomore wing returned for a crucial score.
Snyder was lost for the tournament shortly thereafter on another clutch offensive play. On the play, the sophomore pitched the ball inside on a play exemplary of the work the Tigers have been putting in of recent, each player on the pitch touching the ball on the play. Without Snyder, the Tigers lost their leading scorer to that point in the tournament, joining previously injured junior Lily Hess and Kaitlynn Wertz on the bench.
Summit was also playing the banged-up junior Brielle Quigley sparingly, as their depth at wing was super thin. Head coach Karl Barth credited Bryton Ferrari for her ability to move to wing and play well.
Sept. 7: First at Summit 7’s, Tiger Stadium
Sept. 14: First at Terror 7’s, Colorado Springs
Sept. 21: First at Valkyrie 7’s, Glenwood Springs
Sept. 25: Win at Glenwood Springs Sept. 28: Second at Lumberjackie 7’s
Oct. 8: Win vs. Glenwood Springs (Homecoming), Summit High School
Oct. 11-12: Second at Pink 7’s, Regional Athletic Complex, Salt Lake City
Oct. 19: First at Falcon Bluffs
Oct. 26: Colorado State 7’s Tournament, Boulder High School, 9 a.m. start
Nov. 2: Glendale 15’s, Glendale, TBD
Nov. 9: Palmer 15’s, Palmer, TBD
Nov. 16: Glendale 15’s, Glendale, TBD
With the injuries, Bryton played a lot at wing. Jenna Sheldon, a sophomore, and McKenna Orr also saw a leap in playing time and providing stout defense. Then there was senior leader Nicole Kimball, who played all but eight minutes on the field over a long, tough Saturday.
Summit then defeated Wasatch High School 17-10 in the semifinal to advance to play United on its home pitch in the final. Summit burst out to an early lead over Wasatch, continuing to execute the expanded line-out and scrum plays and strategies Barth drafted in recent weeks. But the length of a five-game day besieged by injuries began to wear on the Tigers.
After holding on against Wasatch, United defeated Summit 19-0 in a championship game that felt closer than the score line indicated. The Tigers fell behind early after United capitalized on a couple of missed tackles, as the premier Utah side played with four more senior starters than when Summit defeated them at the Summit 7s at the beginning of the year. Though Summit clamped down defensively for the majority of the game, they couldn’t muster any scores with their lack of depth and weathered legs.
“They came out fired up,” Barth said. “And that’s their backyard, and they were playing probably as good as I’ve seen them play. It was impressive, the whole package.”
Pivoting attention back to Colorado play, the Tigers will travel to the Falcon Bluffs tournament Saturday in Littleton before the state championship tournament in Boulder on Oct. 27.
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