Princeton University captured the 2015 Ivy Rugby Conference Women’s Seven-a-Side Championship over Brown University, 22-15, in a wide-open display of offense at Rickerson Field on the West Windsor Campus on Saturday.
Featuring 5 freshmen, and just one senior, the Tigers jumped out to a hard-earned 22-0 lead by the midway point of the second half before Brown’s offense finally caught fire with some explosive plays shortly before the final whistle.
Last weekend, the Princeton Women’s team qualified as one of the 16 teams which will complete for the USA Rugby Collegiate National Sevens Championship, to be held over Memorial Day weekend on the campus of the University of Denver in Colorado. With its Ivy League Championship, the team showed that outcome was no fluke, as it marched toward the final game with a pool play win against Brown and Cornell, and a dominant win over Harvard in the semi-finals. Dartmouth’s women secured 3rd place, with its consolation win against Harvard. Yale and Cornell also vied for the title. (Parenthetically, Brown, Dartmouth and Harvard are each varsity sports funded by their universities, while Princeton is a student-run and organized sports club, largely funded by an alumni endowment fund.)
Tigers get it done
For the final, Princeton’s Head Coach Chris Ryan and internationally known 7s guru Emil Signes devised a precise strategy to stifle Brown’s potent offense until it was too late to make the difference and the team executed that strategy to perfection. Princeton’s Freshman Jessica Lu, who came to New Jersey from Shanghai, was named as Player of the Tournament by the impartial referees.
Princeton’s Captain, and only senior, Cat Lambert, said, “This was my proudest moment with Princeton Rugby. Having finished in fourth place out of the Ivy teams in the 15s tournament last fall, we proved to everyone and to ourselves how hard we worked since then to come out and beat (twice) the reigning Ivy champs. The championship game against Brown was a true test of heart, especially since we had already beaten them, narrowly, in pool play, and Brown was the team coming into the final with a chip on its shoulder. We were able to play to our strengths, stealing most of their scrums, running great lines of support, and executing our penalty plays.”
Thoughts on the Game: Emil Signes Saturday
April 18 was one of those rare beautiful days: warm enough to be in short-sleeves but not too hot to play at 100%: pleasant for players and spectators alike.
At the end of pool play there were 4 teams left to play in the championship round: Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Princeton. The first three are varsity programs, with Dartmouth just beginning its implementation this year. The other Ivies, including Princeton, have yet to make the move to varsity.
The two semifinals were won by Princeton and Brown in surprisingly convincing manner over Harvard and Dartmouth. Princeton freshman Jessica Lu scored a hat trick and her replacement Vera Lummis, another freshman, scored the 4th.
In the 20-minute final, Princeton jumped out to a 22-0 lead with 2 tries each by Lu and sophomore Jochebed Muflam, and it looked to be over with 5 minutes to go. But Brown rushed back with 3 consecutive tries and had there been an 11-minute half instead of 10, who knows what would have happened. This article was originally published on Ivy Rugby. For more photos of the event, click here.