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Carmel Wins Indiana Girls 7s in Thriller

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Carmel Wins Indiana Girls 7s in Thriller

Carmel in stripes against the Carroll Chargers in the Rugby Indiana final. Alex Goff photo.

Carmel HS won the Rugby Indiana Girls Fall 7s Sunday, capping off a successful season for the state with some dramatic and exciting games at the Moose Rugby Grounds in Eklhart, Ind.

The Girls bracket included seven teams separated into a pool of three and another pool of four. Early on it became clear that Carmel and Carroll Chargers would be the top two. These two were also the only two programs to bring in 2nd teams, which played in their own series.

Carmel won their pool games 40-12 and 55-5. The Chargers won their games 37-0, 32-0, and 39-0. That set up the final which was a thriller. Carmel, led by Chloe de Leon on the outside and some impressive playmaking and defense from Lauren Reddington, Lisa Venckus, and Celia Watson ran out to a lead and looked like they might have it in control.

But Carroll didn't back down and calmly broke through for two crucial tries. Natalie Hirsch was instrumental in bringing her side back, and Gabby Woenker just wouldn't be brought down. Woenker was everywhere for Carroll and ended up tournament MVP.

With time winding down and the game on a knife edge, Carmel was down 22-19 when de Leon broke around the outside for one more try. The conversion hit the post, but Carmel had their lead at 24-22. The thing is, most of the players didn't know the score. When the referee finally blew the whistle to end it, neither team knew who had won. Once Carmel learned the truth, the celebrations began.

"This group of girls we've had this year is so much more of a community than we've had in the past," said Watson. "Like, this summer we've just been hanging out; we watched the Olympics together and I think part of the bond that comes with stuff off the field is what makes us work together on the field." 

That bond had to led to more numbers and a strong program overall.

And as the final came up de Leon said the team's energy level needed to be up, and she led the way with some key late breaks. 

"There's no relaxing in the middle of this 14 minutes," added Venckus. "This is the last 14 minutes of rugby we get this season."

Girls Championship Scores:

North Central 34-0 Penn HS
Carmel 55-5 Penn HS
Carmel 40-12 North Central

Carroll Chargers 37-0 Westfield
Mudsock 15-20 Fort Wayne
Carroll Chargers 32-0 Fort Wayne
Mudsock 15-24 Westfield
Carroll Chargers 39-0 Mudsock
Fort Wayne 5-34 Westfield

5th-6th Game: Fort Wayne 25-15 Penn HS
3rd-4th Game: Westfield 22-21 North Central
Final: Carmel 24-22 Carroll Chargers