Summit Rugby continues dominance, rolls over Palmer
Special to the Daily
Many sports fans may associate autumn with football, but the Summit girl’s rugby team has made a strong case that they are the most exciting local sports act around.
Fresh off blowout wins in their first two games, the Tigers continued dominance on Saturday, with a 49-0 rout over the Palmer Bears.
Summit (3-0) dominated possession early on, as Palmer was barely able to move the ball into Tiger territory. A little over a minute in, Summit struck first, when 2014 all-state player Meg Rose broke away from a scrum and ran over half the field for the first try. Rose, second on the team in scoring, has notched 35 points off seven tries. Just two minutes later, she would score again, which was followed by a short try from sophomore Brigid Corson — her first of the year.
After her score, the Bears appeared to wake up, putting down a surprising defensive clamp that held the Tigers scoreless for over nine minutes.
“They definitely stepped up a little bit … they gave us a tough run,” said 2014 All-American junior captain Natalie Gray.
However, with 12:15 remaining, any semblance of competitiveness quickly evaporated when she sparked a 21-0 run to finish the half. The speedy New Zealand native deftly maneuvered and accelerated past two Palmer defenders with ease, earning her whopping seventh try of the season. Then, with 8:00 remaining in the first half, Sydney Kerstiens added more insurance with her first career try.
“Pretty amazing, oh my god; so happy,” a beaming Kerstiens explained.
The freshman had never played rugby before this season.
Summit continued rolling after halftime, and, with the score 49-0 early in the second half, the game was called, and the Tigers had their third win of the season.
This blowout may have seemed like an offensive onslaught, but what really turned the tide for the Tigers was stingy defense. After giving up more than half the total points allowed in the 2014 campaign in their first game, the Summit “D” stepped up their pressure, forcing a shutout in the past two matches.
On Saturday, Palmer rarely touched the ball, and, even when they did, it wasn’t for long, as the athletically superior Tigers surrounded and hammered the Bears at almost every opportunity. One of the biggest defensive hits came from sophomore Cassidy Bargell, who hammered a Bear player into the ground with a resounding thud, leaving many in the stands gasping with glee.
“I think this week we actually really focused on our defense and just the communication on defense — that’s really huge,” explained Rose on the team’s improvement.
Summit will now have a week off before heading on the road to take on Fountain Ft. Carson next Saturday. Although to the casual observer it may seem that the Summit girls are ruling the rugby field with an iron fist, their coach Karl Barth is still not content.
“I think we are still finding our identity. We are varying our pattern in attack really well, and it is sophisticated and challenging for any team,” he explained. “But our defense is still a work in progress, and they are in the process of understanding their roles and the transition from player to key piece.”
Whether the Summit rugby girls are lacking identity or he is just a tireless perfectionist could be debated endlessly. One thing that is certain, however, is that that identity will develop eventually with only three games down and an undeniable bond already visible among players.
“Between my freshman year and this year, we definitely play differently; like a different style. But the character of the team I would say is generally the same (compared to previous years),” said Gray with a small smile. “We tend to keep a family aspect to our team that we all love.”
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