Summit rugby scores 46 in tune-up |

Summit rugby scores 46 in tune-up

summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado

FARMER’S KORNER ” With only a handful of days left before his team leaves for the rugby national championships in Pittsburgh, Summit High head coach Karl Barth was a little concerned heading into Saturday’s tune-up match with a Colorado all-star team.

Although, it didn’t have much to do with his team’s play.

“If we don’t play, we’re not really ready. And if we do play, then we risk injury,” Barth said of scheduling the match so close to nationals. “That’s my worry right there.”

Well, the SHS coach could rest easy after the Tigers scored 46 points in an eight-point win and came away relatively unscathed at Tiger Field.

“Some of the stuff we wanted to work on, we sorted out ” like our patterns and things,” Barth said. “So that was good. It was a good day.”

Seniors Lauren Danielsen and Jozy Gessner combined for 26 points on five tries and three conversions, while sophomore Alex Cooper chipped in two scores.

“I think we’re playing really strong,” Gessner said of her team. “We definitely have some things to work on, but now we know what to do. We’re ready, we’re ready for nationals.”

The Tigers started the game on their heels, and their opponent ” a mix-and-match group of high school all stars and college players ” took an early 7-0 lead.

Summit answered with three straight tries. Danielsen had two sandwiched around a 40-yard run by Gessner, and the Tigers were up 19-7 with less than 10 minutes remaining in the opening half.

“We had a slow start, but we definitely picked it up,” Danielsen said.

The visitors answered, though, scoring back-to-back tries in the last five minutes to tie the score.

Danielsen then scored her third try of the half as time expired, and the Tigers had a 24-19 lead at the break.

Summit controlled the play for much of the second half, with Gessner adding another try and Cooper crossing the endline for two of her own.

It all added up to a barn-burning 46-38 win.

“A few of those tries were really just individual efforts with Jozy taking advantage of things,” Barth said, noting that Gessner, named the state’s most valuable player in the fall season, was playing a new position for the entire match.

Barth was very pleased with the play of Holly Atkinson and Stephany McDowell.

“Holly and Steph were up against some very physical girls, and they did great out there,” the coach said. “They’ve been very physical and aggressive all spring.”

Summit now looks ahead to a stern test in Pittsburgh on May 16. The Tigers’ first opponent will be Divine Savior from Milwaukee, which happens to be the No. 1 team in the country.

“We have the world’s worst draw,” Barth said with a laugh. “They haven’t lost in six years. Then we’d have a tough road from there.”

Barth does have full confidence that his team can pull off the upset.

“Our advantage is that they’re probably not looking forward to playing us, either,” he said. ” … We are definitely up against it. We’re going to go in with a positive attitude, but also utilize the underdog thing a little bit, because we can do it.”

Gessner likes the way her team is playing before heading east, and thinks they have what they need.

“I think the biggest thing is that we are playing with heart now,” she said. “As long as we keep our hearts in it, we’ll do fine.”

Summit leaves for the East Coast on Thursday. The Tigers play two games Saturday and, if they make the title game, will play Sunday.

Barth, who coached Summit to national titles in 1998 and 1999, said that there’s no way to really tell how his team might fair against the country’s best until it begins play. Although, he does like the Tigers’ chances.

“We could play our best game and win, or we could play our best game and not win,” he said. “All we can do is play the best we can and see what happens.”

Bryce Evans can be reached at (970) 668-4634 or at

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