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Momentum Shifts in Dartmouth vs Army See Big Green Go 3-0 in NIRA

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Momentum Shifts in Dartmouth vs Army See Big Green Go 3-0 in NIRA

Army found success taking the forwards up the middle. Photo West Point Athletics.

Dartmouth moved to 3-0 in the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association DI with a 34-28 defeat of Army at West Point on Sunday.

The dynamic backline pairing of Lilly Durbin and Emily Henrich continued their scoring form with each bagging a pair. These two have been lining up at center, but in this game Durbin played fullback and was very effective in handling the Army kicking game and, of course, getting on the scoresheet herself cutting around the outside for one and blazing up the middle for another.

"In the words of one of our captains Emily [Henrich], the first half of today's game was electric," Dartmouth Head Coach Katie Dowty told Charlotte Brackett. "That's some of the best rugby we've ever played."

Dartmouth led 19-0 at halftime after two tries from Durbin and one from Kristin Bitter, with Abbey Savin converting one of Durbin's and Bitter's effort. Bitter's try was actually quite brilliant, the flyhalf now playing inside center saw the pass floating far in front of her. Instead of reach for the ball she sped up and took an outside line that allowed her to catch the ball at full pace; she then put in a nice sidestep and was over.

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In the second half, they built on that lead. From the kickoff Dartmouth received and consolidated before Henrich broke through for a 30-meter run into the Army half. After that, the Dartmouth team went to work through ten phases, each one productive, before a gap opened up on the right and Savin drew the inside tackler and fed lock Nicole Ihensekhien who galloped through the gap. Through that whole sequence Savin and Henrich were very active moving the ball to various runners.

Then Dartmouth for a penalty which led to them kicking for the corner and taking the lineout. Ihensekhien almost scored again right then, but instead the ball was spun quickly to midfield where Henrich took a bouncing ball, evaded three tacklers, and bowled over a fourth to score. That made it 29-0.

But Army roared back, as you knew they would. They used their forwards to greater offensive effect and quick, short offloads pierced the Dartmouth defense. After a couple of penalties in the Dartmouth 22, Army tapped and sent it wide to Rebecca Syrup. She was over and Codi Butt converted. Army almost scored after another forward surge when, unexpectedly, lock Naomi Colin put in a chip kick to chase toward the tryline. It almost worked. But right after that Army got a scrum and No. 8 Julia Riekena picked up and charged over. Butt again converted to make it 29-14. Moments later, Army took advantage of a Dartmouth fumble, and the work up the middle looked to have paid off with space out wide. Center Charisma Henry now had a little room to run, and then the ball was spun back to the lft side where Colin, again showing the heart of a back, executed a nice flat pass to wing Sydney Schaaf for the try. With Butt's conversion suddenly it was 29-21 and Dartmouth was the team under pressure.

But momentum is a fickle thing and can be turned. Henrich did that. She made a tackle at midfield and then was over the ball to force a penalty. Dartmouth tapped quickly and were in the Army 22, where Henrich was everywhere, making passes, clearing out in rucks, and, when there was a gap in the line, racing around to receive a pass, beat two defenders, and score. That was a huge try as it gave Dartmouth more of a cushion, and the momentum.

Army once again stormed back and had Dartmouth pinned in their own end. That defensive pressure forced a turnover and Army came achingly close to the line on several occasions. Riekena was almost over in the corner but a pile of Big Green pushed her out. But Army had the penalty advantage and the No. 8 tapped and just went herself. Butt was good with the kick, but time was up. Army had shown plenty of heart, but they would end up ruing those first ten minutes.

For Dartmouth, their forwards put in a ton of work and Henrich was again a force. For Army, their second row pairing of Colin and Kaylee Cargile was immense, and scrumhalf Emma Gamboa put in a lot of work and was dynamic.

Now Army vs Harvard on October 30 looms very large.

Dartmouth 34
Tries: Durbin 2, Henrich 2, Bitter, Ihensekhien 
Convs: Savin 2

Army 28
Tries: Riekena 2, Syrup, Schaaf
Convs: Butt 4

Latest NIRA DI Standings:

Darmouth 3 0 0 176 43 133 3 0 15
Harvard 2 0 0 162 10 152 2 0 10
Brown 1 0 1 65 22 43 1 0 7
Quinnipiac 1 1 0 58 74 -16 1 0 5
Army 0 1 1 57 53 4 1 1 4
Sacred Heart 0 2 0 27 94 -67 1 0 1
Mount St. Mary's 0 1 0 5 53 -48 0 0 0
Long Island 0 2 0 10 201 -191 0 0 0