Once again Dartmouth had home field advantage on a beautiful fall day for this weekend’s final Tier I Ivy Rugby Conference match up against Brown. Once again all eyes were riveted on Brophy Field as both teams provided thrilling entertainment for this weekend’s large homecoming crowd with inspirational runs, driving tackles, and ferocious team defense. And, most notably, once again the Big Green women held out for the win to remain undefeated and on top when the final whistle blew, with another very narrow point spread against a very talented opponent.
It looked like Brown might be in for a repeat of their surprising 57-6 defeat at the hands of Harvard in the previous weekend’s action, as the Big Green recovered possession at the kick off and scored in the second minute of the match. Speedster fullback Diana Wise ’15 got into the action early with a cross-field run at the 22 meter line, turning the corner on Brown’s opposite wing and cruising into the try zone. Tatjana Toeldte ‘16’s conversion attempt from out wide fell just short of the posts, leaving the score at 5-0.
Brown came to play, though, and answered with very aggressive team defense, pinning Dartmouth on the wrong side of the fifty for the next 15 minutes and creating turnover opportunities. The Bear’s forays into the DWRC’s “red zone” resulted in an unsuccessful penalty kick, and the Big Green was able to get back into the Brown end with the help of several Bear penalties. Dartmouth got on the board again at the 20 minute mark when centers Audrey Perez ’17 and Kiki Morgan ’14 had their first of many encounters, with Perez tackling Morgan and recovering possession, setting up #10 Charlotte Knott ’15 to distribute to winger Kerry Anne Conlin ’16 jetting up the open outside channel and finishing 10 meters from the left post. Michaela Conway ‘15’s conversion was no good, and the score was 10-0.
The Bear’s first try came not long after the kick off, when quick-footed hooker Lucy Fernandez ’14 took the first of several Dartmouth scrums against the head at the Dartmouth 22, and #13 Kiki Morgan got her first opportunity to show the crowd what an All-American women’s rugby player looks like as she slipped into fifth gear after receiving a miss pass and ran through the Dartmouth defense for a try under the posts. Fernandez converted the try for a score of 10-7.
Brown continued to struggle with penalties, and Dartmouth continued to work their offensive patterns, which highlighted some great vertical breaks by prop Yejade Dunn ’16, Perez, and flanker Pallavi Kuppa-Apte ’14, until Wise turned it on at the 40, evaded several Brown defenders, and landed her second try of the day under the posts. Toeldte nailed this one, upping the score to 17-7.
The Big Green controlled possession off the kick off, but turned over the ball just past the 50, and a quick pass to Morgan sent her into overdrive as she streaked past the scrambling Dartmouth defense and crossed the try line alone. Fernandez converted, leaving the score at 17-14.
Brown saw their only lead of the match not long before the first half ended, as aggressive Brown defense at a Dartmouth line out resulted in #8 Jess Sawadogo kicking the ball ahead, where Morgan once again was in the right place at the right time after futile attempts by Dartmouth defenders to recover the loose ball. She scooped it up ran the 10 meters in open space into the try zone for a hat trick. Fernandez’s kick was no good, but the try put Brown on top 17-19.
Minutes before the half, a huge tackle-breaking run by Perez put Dartmouth within a meter of the try line. A quick blindside pass from the ensuing ruck to Kerry Anne Conlin ‘16 gave Dartmouth another easy try. The conversion from the corner was short and wide. The half ended with Dartmouth up 22-19.
In the first few minutes of the second half, Dartmouth Captain Kuppa-Apte ‘14 spearheaded a 25 meter vertical attack to free the Big Green from danger after multiple turnovers by both teams. Great ball awareness and offensive support by Taylor Hummel ‘14 kept possession for Dartmouth on multiple occasions. About 15 minutes into the half, another impressive vertical run by Yejadai Dunn ‘16 to the right drew in many Brown defenders. Perez received the ball out left, dummied a pass and gave her opposite number, Morgan, some of her own medicine as she accelerated by her for a try. The conversion put Dartmouth ahead 29-19. A few minutes later, a Brown penalty kick was no good, but Brown recovered the 22 meter drop out, and several vertical attacks by Brown’s pack allowed them to get close enough to muscle in for a try, touched down by prop Jaqueline Rice. The conversion was successful, putting them within 3 points of the DWRC. With time running out, the DWRC fought to stay in possession and away from their defensive red zone. The final encounter between Perez and was a big tackle on Morgan as she sought open field for Brown’s last attempt to win the match, and subsequent turnover to give the Big Green much-needed control. The homecoming crowd’s subsequent jubilant eruption fired up the home team, and, with the clock winding down, Dartmouth’s pressure defense held and Brown’s handling errors kept them pinned to their try line. Final score 29-26. The DWRC remains undefeated in the top spot in the Ivy League. Brown’s fate in the seeding of the Conference Championship, and whether they will have to play in a challenge match with Tier II’s top team Cornell, lies in next weekend’s Princeton-Harvard match result.
Tries: Diana Wise '15 (2), Kerry Anne Conlin '16 (2) , Audrey Perez '17 (1)
Conversions: Tatjana Toeldte (2)