Watch: Tigers girls rugby doesn’t relent a point in 3-game homecoming shutout sweep
Summit defeats Denver East in final home games of the season
A week after the Summit High School Green varsity girls rugby team implemented a blitz defense for the first time, the Tigers on Wednesday didn’t relent a single point with the defensive strategy.
The strategy led to three victories in three sevens games for the Tigers against Denver East on a homecoming night that also served as the team’s final home games of the season. Tigers head coach Karl Barth said the wins — by scores of 31-0, 26-0 and 34-0 — were precisely what the program wanted to see.
“Our biggest thing is throwing goose eggs up there,” the coach said. “That’s the thing. No matter what, we can play for that. And that’s a group effort.”
Summit’s second varsity side, Gold, defeated Regis Jesuit 22-5 and 19-12 before dropping the final game 17-10.
Behind the Tigers Green team’s blitzing defense was junior Paola Arredondo at sweeper. After missing last spring season due to an injury, Arredondo is quickly blossoming into a dominant offensive and defensive presence for Summit.
On the occasions Denver East’s players busted through Summit’s blitz defense, Arredondo — much like a free safety in football — took the perfect angle and pace to quickly and powerfully bring the Denver East ball carrier to the ground. Barth said Arredondo has missed only one tackle in the Tigers’ 10 undefeated games through the young season. On Wednesday, not only was Arredondo a lockdown defensive anchor, she was also the team’s leading scorer with her elite acceleration with the ball in her hands.
“You figure she had a year away from the game with the wrist injury from basketball last year, and for some people, that’s a setback,” Barth said. “But for her, she’s come back with a fire in her belly. It’s been unbelievable the work she’s put in. And it’s showing up on the field. She’s leading us in scoring and in defense. She’s really aggressive.”
LIVE: Summit High girls rugby hosts Denver East for homecoming. Join sports editor Antonio Olivero for the live broadcast…Posted by Summit Daily News on Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Arredondo is just one of several special personnel pieces for the Tigers that have gelled superbly in the early season. Barth said the functional, plug-and-play depth has allowed the program’s top side to be able to play with different strategies and be able to maintain an elite standard no matter who is out on the field.
Senior Milly Carleton, who is a mainstay at prop for the Tigers, said it’s amazing how she can open up holes and win possession for so many of her teammates. Carleton said Arredondo is at a “next level” with her defensive performance and communication. And then there’s Tigers junior Joselin Roque, who plays next to Carleton. It’s Roque’s ability to pass the ball quick, as well as manipulate defenses with her footwork and ball fakes, that sprung so many Summit scores Wednesday.
“She has lots of speed, but she can also run through a team because she has the power to get a quick pop and go right in,” Carleton said about Roque. “Our dynamic is great, and she can read the field well.”
LIVE: Summit High girls rugby hosts Denver East for homecoming Join sports editor Antonio Olivero for the live broadcast of the second game of the tripleheader, Tigers up 1-0…Posted by Summit Daily News on Wednesday, September 22, 2021
After Wednesday’s three victories, Roque said she thinks Summit’s whole is greater than all of its individual parts — even if all of those singular players are special in their own right. She said she’s taken pride this season in being able to read the footwork and angles of defenders and taking advantage of whatever openings or space they provide.
“If they go this way, I go the other way,” Roque said.
Despite all of the points Summit scored Wednesday, Carleton said the team’s top moment of the day might have come when it kept Denver East from reaching the try line for a score. With Denver East just feet away from the try line, Summit made tackle after tackle and attacked East well enough to force it back and ultimately turn the ball over.
LIVE: Summit High girls rugby hosts Denver East for homecoming Join sports editor Antonio Olivero for the live broadcast of the third game of the tripleheader, Tigers up 2-0…Posted by Summit Daily News on Wednesday, September 22, 2021
“We just fired and fired, and we got the ball through a ruck,” Carleton said. It was the teamwork and communication of firing and tackling by every girl that was really great.”
Summit’s big senior-night at home Wednesday was in front of a third-straight bleacher-packed crowd at Tiger Stadium. Carleton said the support as Summit goes for its 14th-straight state title is a completely different experience than when it won its 13th-straight almost entirely away from home last spring.
“It’s so nice,” she said. “I feel like last year we had nothing; we literally had nothing. It’s so fun to have a student section be rowdy. I feel like our class is so spirited this year because we had nothing last year. It’s so fun to have that support, and I honestly feel it makes us better and more hyped and excited to play here.”
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