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Dartmouth Opens NIRA Account with Big Win

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Dartmouth Opens NIRA Account with Big Win

Two tries from Lilly Durbin sparked a rolling Big Green. Photo Dartmouth Athletics.

Dartmouth opened up their NIRA season with a comprehensive dismissal of Long Island University, beating the Sharks 92-5 Wednesday at Brophy Field in Hanover, NH.

Dartmouth was faster, more aggressive in defense, and more direct in attack as the Big Green used defensive pressure to force LIU into turnovers and then leveraged their pace, power, and teamwork in the backline to score tries.

With two internationals in the midfield in 2019 Sorensen Award winner Emily Henrich and capped 7s player Lilly Durbin, Dartmouth had attacking options all over the field. But even when they didn't have the ball they caused LIU problems. With the Sharks looking constructed for a grind-'em-down game, they too often found Dartmouth defenders right in their face. Efforts to get around said defenders didn't quite work as LIU attackers were too slow to straighten their line, and as a result were repeatedly slammed to the ground by the Big Green Line.

Quick Start for Big Green

With Long Island's passing also a shade too slow and tentative, they were in trouble from the start. Dartmouth kicked off, surged ahead in defense, turned the ball over, and Sophia Ragg scored within a minute. Moments later a quick tap on a penalty forced LIU to infringe, and the next tap move saw Henrich run onto a flat pass and charge over. Abbey Savin kicked both conversions and in fact was superb in that department all day, nailing 11 out of her 12 attempts.

Henrich got her second after some more pressure from Dartmouth and this time she scored out wide. Savin got her only miss on that one and it was 19-0. A superb break from freshman hooker Asialeata Meni set up Durbin for her first, and then a wayward kick, also forced by defensive aggression, put the ball in freshman wing Sadie Schier's hands and she was gone for 80 meters.

You get the picture. Long Island had its best moments when playing a vertical game, but out wide they had all sorts of trouble. The Sharks came close to scoring late in the first half but were held up in-goal—low body position is a key work-on for LIU—but late in the second half, with a Big Green player in the sin bin, they did barge one over. They worked some tap penalty moves and brought some backs into the pile to get the ball over, with Gina Pollice getting some help from her forwards to get to the line.

Meanwhile, Dartmouth kept up their point-per-minute (or better) pace, seeing multiple players work a move when turnover ball presented itself. Henrich and Durbin created plenty but so did others, and outside back Margot Généreux looked very dangerous in support.

The Upshot

Dartmouth ended up scoring 13 tries from ten different players, with Henrich, Durbin, and Généreux the only players to score more than once.

For Long Island, there were positives as they were able to string several phases together and weren't soft in the tackle by any means. But they needed to be quicker to react to trouble, and more direct in transitioning from sidestep to north-south running. This was LIU's first experience in NIRA's D1. They will learn from this, and have plenty of chances to adjust.

For Dartmouth, despite some penalty trouble in the second half, it was an early sign that this team might be a NIRA championship contender. With Savin's goalkicking (several of her kicks were from tough angles), the explosive backline, and forwards such as captain and loose forward Sophia Haley and a very mobile front row, they tick a lot of boxes.

Dartmouth 92
Tries: Henrich 2, Durbin 2, Généreux 2, Ragg, Schier, Ferridge, Haley, Meni, Oh, Waddell
Convs: Savin 11, Bitter 2
Pens: Savin

Long Island 5
Tries: Dallas