Young Summit High School girl’s rugby team wins over Chaparral in season opener
Special to the Daily
One would think that after seven straight state titles, a top-five national ranking and almost two years since their last loss, complacency might be an issue for the girl’s Summit High School Tigers rugby team. However, with a 66-12 season opening win over Chaparral on Friday night, complacency proved to be the last of their worries.
“It was so exhilarating to be out there,” exclaimed freshman Heidi Anderson.
The season opener was the first ever varsity game for her, and she made it a memorable one, scoring her first try (football equivalent of a touchdown) late in the first half, with a successful conversion after.
In many ways, her performance was a symbolic theme of the night.
The 2015 Summit rugby girls are a young bunch, having lost 16 seniors from last season. As dominant as the team has been in the past, big shoes need to be filled, and players will have to grow up quick for another title in 2015.
The Tigers wasted no time starting the rebuild, taking their first lead less than two minutes in. Knee-deep in a ruck (moving scrum), senior and captain Becca Rosko managed to squirm out and run half the distance of the field for the try and conversion after. Less than ten minutes later, senior and captain Meg Rose added a try of her own, which was then followed by a Natalie Gray score — her third of the game — that pushed the lead to 45-0 entering halftime.
“It was good to get the rust off and get some of these younger players experience,” explained Gray, a junior and 2014 All-American. “We have a lot of things to work on, though.”
At first glance, it may seem odd that she was not content with Friday’s match; however, much more lies behind a game than just the final tally. About halfway through the second half, with mostly underclassmen in the game, wheels started to fall off the Summit train.
“They kind of started to overpower us there,” explained a wide-eyed Rose. “We need to work on getting low.”
While Summit focuses more on spacing and speed with their game-style, the Chaparal 15s (rugby term referring to 15 players on the field) prefer a more direct, run-em’-over type approach. Often, Chaparral players would bull right into Summit players, instead of trying to maneuver around them. The technique proved somewhat effective, as Chaparral was disadvantaged athletically and talent-wise but had Summit’s number when it came to size. Additionally, combatting this kind of play can be a difficult mental task for a young team, seeing players four years their elder, running straight at them.
“Yeah, I was glad I didn’t have to tackle any of them,” said Anderson, the lock (offensive forward), with a laugh.
“They definitely stepped up and took it to us,” said junior Jess Kamins.
Chaparral used their aggression to score 12 unanswered points off two tries in about two minutes while dominating possession for another ten. These 12 points hold significance because it’s more than half the total points scored on Summit all last season. This stat may just be a showing of incredible past dominance, but it is also proof that this year’s Summit 15s have a ways to go if wanting to return to their past glory. Luckily, despite their youth, they still have a few experienced veterans, like Gray, to show them the way.
“This year, I’m really going to focus on my team … helping to build some of these players up,” she explained.
“It was a good game as far as figuring out where were at,” explained a smiling head coach Karl Barth. “We definitely need to be more physical … but Natalie’s going to help these guys get better. She worked her butt off this summer. She played with an All-American all-start team throughout the country, which just does loads for confidence.”
With talented vets manning the ship and a young but enthusiastic crew beside them, Friday’s game proved the Summit Tigers won’t be letting their foot off the gas just yet. Although far-from perfect, game one was an important building block and an impressive step forward for many young players in their first varsity game. Expect flaws to be corrected quickly and those 12 points to be just a blip on the radar, as long as the Summit Rugby bunch have anything to say about it.
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