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Sweeping toward state

Shauna Farnell

This week the Summit County Girls Rugby Club is perfecting the art of the shutout in anticipation of the state finals Thursday in Highlands Ranch.

The Summit U-19 team played the first two games of the Colorado Cup in Fort Collins Saturday and didn’t allow a single score, not even against its younger team. The first game of the tournament pitted the older Summit team against its younger players, and the U-19s came out on top 72-0. The second game against Highlands Ranch saw Summit hold its ground and the ball for the majority of the game, which ended in a 5-0 Summit win.

“We controlled the game, but it was difficult,” said Summit rugby coach Karl Barth. “(Highlands Ranch) was playing what I would call some highly destructive rugby. There were lots of penalties and complaints. It wasn’t a really dirty game, but they were whiney and there little things … enough to disrupt us.”

Senior Sally Gentling scored the one try for Summit after spinning through a hole and falling into the try zone. In the first game, senior Lisa Wallace scored the first two tries of her rugby career and other points were scored by Gentling, Kate Orlin, Wendy DiMiranda and Lacey LeBaron. Erin Neilsen gets credit as the top scorer, though, with two tries, seven conversions and one penalty kick. Neilsen was standing in for regular kicker Kelly Benedict, who saw her season end early after the senior broke her ankle at practice last week. Barth attributed part of Neilsen’s sudden advancement in kicking skills to special instruction from former Denver Bronco player Bill Van Heusen and former Ohio State University football coach Chris Cotner at practice last week.

Although the team was looking forward to playing friendly rival Littleton in Thursday’s state finals wrap-up, it is still planning on a tough rematch with Highlands Ranch and a competitive matchup with Fort Collins, which took Littleton’s spot to Nationals after beating the Summit rivals 12-5 Saturday.

“Thursday will decide the state bragging rights,” Barth said. “We’ll go to Nationals no matter what. The team’s pretty psyched. They don’t always let on that it means a lot, but a couple of them are still a little nervous for Thursday. Fort Collins has always had a good defense. The 15 (points) they gave us last time were the most they’ve allowed anyone all season. If we can keep giving up nothing, that will be great. They’ve done an excellent job so far. It’s in their hands.”

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at sfarnell@summitdaily.com.


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