The Big Green, coming into their league opener after a pre-season slate which notably lacked defensive practice, had their work cut out for them against an always-aggressive but much-improved Cornell side. Gusty, rainy weather and a very short pitch added to the challenge posted by a determined and organized Cornell defense.
The Big Red kicked off and took advantage of the Dartmouth’s inability to get under high balls in the wind, attacking the loose ball and quickly getting the ball out to wing to put the first points on the board. The conversion was short and wide.
The DWRC shook off the cobwebs, kicking off with the wind at their backs and soon forcing a Cornell turnover at the ruck. Cornell wasn’t about to let the Big Green in without fighting for it, though, forcing the smaller Dartmouth side into several long-lasting, grueling mauls and putting the DWRC on notice that they were going to have to work for their tries. After 8 full minutes of green zone work, rookie center Audrey Perez ’17 finally got a little room and jammed up the center, wriggling out of a few tackles for the Big Green’s first try of the day. Michaela Conway ’15 converted the try despite the strong winds to make it 7-5 Dartmouth.
For the next 10 minutes Dartmouth worked their way up the pitch against the Big Red defensive wall. Cornell’s defensive organization was punctuated with solid tackling, and Dartmouth’s forwards and ball carriers answered with excellent control of their offensive rucks. Emily Reeves ’15, Taylor Hummel ’14, and Yejadai Dunn ’16 ‘s ball awareness were instrumental in retaining possession. All fifteen players touched the ball in multiple aggressive phases and Perez ’17 touched down another diving try. Tatjana Toeldte ’16 successfully converted the try. A few minutes later after winning a defensive ruck, Dunn ’16 scooped up the loose ball and raced up the pitch on a signature blindside break. After a few more phases that contracted the Cornell defense, Perez ’17 ran in to complete a hat trick. A great kick-off recovery by Cornell caught Dartmouth on their heels and the Big Red ran it in on the wing to keep the game interesting, ending the half 19-10 Dartmouth.
With an increasing headwind, Dartmouth kicked off to Cornell to start the second half and regained possession with an aggressive net defense. Cornell’s determined defense once again made it hard for Dartmouth to gain much ground. The Big Green’s recycling and forward-back integration eventually disorganized the Big Red defense enough to send 2nd row Allie “Brouck” Brouckman ’15 out wide off winger Becky Marder ’15 for Dartmouth’s fourth try. With 20 minutes left in the match, the looming storm arrived and Dartmouth contended with pelting rain mixed into the headwind. The end of the match saw the Big Green camping on the Cornell try line but unable to break the defensive wall, despite taking two scrums against the head. Final score was 24-10, a great opening match for both teams and a prelude to good things to come in next weekend’s opening first and second tier matches.
Tries: Audrey Perez ’17 (3), Allison Brouckman ’15 (1)
Conversions: Michaela Conway ’15 (1), Tatjana Toeldte ’16 (1)