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Kutztown Bolsters Back Attack

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Kutztown Bolsters Back Attack

The Mid-Atlantic Rugby Conference took a bit of a makeover for the upcoming season, but one thing hasn’t changed: Kutztown is the DII women’s college with the target on its back. The Pennsylvania side was pleased to advance to ACRA’s final four year last, but now that the team has diversified its experience and returned some important players, Kutztown is thinking bigger.

“Kutztown gained some valuable experience in last fall’s [ACRA] final four,” Kutztown coach Sean Cobb said. “We learned that to compete at the elite level, we need to be more dynamic. We need to be able to attack opponents all across the field. What we learned last fall with be a guiding principle this fall as Kutztown looks to return to the ACRA Final Four."

Fortunately, KU is returning 21 of the 25 players who competed at ACRA nationals, so those lessons will only have to be taught to a handful of players.

“This year, Kutztown is going to work on expanding our base of attack,” Cobb said. “Due to some injuries to our roster late last year, Kutztown became a forward-dominated team that really only had one base of attack. With hard work put in through the sevens season and some new playmakers in the backline, we are looking forward to expanding the width of our attack. We believe that if our backs can be as dynamic as our forwards are aggressive, we can beat anyone in the nation.”

Key to that backline attack is flyhalf Mary Cate Matta. The field general suffered an ACL injury during the ACRA quarterfinals last year, but she’s spent the previous nine months rehabbing, and her return is crucial. She’ll link up with key returner Sharyn Boedecker at scrumhalf. Senior Tabetha Super will be Kutztown’s main striker. The speedy center has been playing on representative 7s sides, like Atlantis, and featured in the Club 7s National Championship final for Old Blue.

In the forwards, Kutztown is very happy to have both Leala Godinet and Faith Hughes back. They make the scrum a good one, and the pair are devastating with ball in hand. The team will also see the return of Kristin Schmitz, who was Forward of the Year two years ago. She left the university for a two-year stint in AmeriCorps, but now she’s back and ready to play. Kutztown will see its most exciting recruit, Aysia Grondahl, lend more depth in the forwards. The lock is from Doylestown, can play in the centers, and has plenty of 7s experience.

But before Kutztown can think post-season, the team has to get through a new conference. Lafayette College moved to NSCRO, but Millersville, Bloomsburg and Rowan joined. So the conference realigned into two new divisions:

Pennsylvania Division           Tri-State Division

Shippensburg University             Kutztown University

York College                             LaSalle University

Millersville University                  Drexel University

Lock Haven University                St Joseph's University

Bloomsburg University               College of New Jersey

East Stroudsburg University        Rowan University

University of Scranton                University of Delaware

“Overall I think the conference is in a better place than it was a year ago,” Cobb said. “We have added several strong teams this off season. These additions will help make the league season more competitive.”

Cobb expects College of New Jersey to be the program’s toughest competition during the regular season. In post-season, a couple of traditional rivals come to mind.

“Lock Haven and Shippensburg are two very good teams that can beat anyone on any given day,” Cobb said. “We won’t see either of them in the regular season, but I am sure they will both be there come playoff time.”

League begins on Sept. 6 and the conference championship will be Nov. 8. The MARC championship finalists will advance to the ACRA Round of 16.