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Morris Repeats as NJ 7s Champ

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Morris Repeats as NJ 7s Champ

Morris beats New York teams for title. (Photo: Diane Gutschmidt Ramage)

Although New York and New Jersey award separate 15 titles in the spring, the ranks thin in the fall as other sports contend for athletes’ attention. That said, four sides from New York (three from Play Rugby and New York) and two from New Jersey (Morris and Monmouth) united for the second-ever Rugby NJ fall 7s series. After four lead-up tournaments, four teams qualified for the championship last weekend. By day's end, only Play Rugby and Morris remained undefeated, and the latter pulled off a 17-12 victory to repeat as champion.

New York took an early lead against Morris in the teams’ opener, but then two tries from Delia Hellander and a Jordan Cowan conversion afforded a 12-5 victory. Both players had missed the entire regular season due to injuries and healed just in time for the championship.

The northern New Jersey side then faced Play Rugby’s second team and ran away with a 29-0 victory. Alba Corney, whose confidence now matches her speed, led with two tries, while Cowan sisters Jordan and Tammy, and Carola Pellegrino also scored. Allie Mennella tacked on two conversions.

 

On the other side of the bracket, Play Rugby found its offensive rhythm early, and after defeating its second side, eliminated New York with a 63-5 victory. The two undefeated teams squared up in the final.

“They knew they were going to have to play a perfect defensive game to give themselves a chance for the win,” Morris assistant coach Tom Feury reported. “After giving up an immediate try off the kickoff, their defensive line stiffened and they continued to make hard tackles and force bad passes. When they were able to gain possession, they moved the ball wide and this strategy enabled some line-breaks.”

The hard-hitting Emily McHugh made a big difference on defense and also managed to break the line with ball in hand. Hellander found linebreak success as well and capitalized with a try. Mennella added the extras for Morris’ first appearance on the scoreboard. Before the half, Jordan Cowan took a quick-tap penalty across the line to score, and then Play Rugby responded with a second-half try to tie it up 12-all.

As the clock wore down, Hellander pierced the defensive line again, and this time connected with Brianna Whitfield for the try. Morris took a 17-12 lead into the final two minutes of play, and sent the subsequent kickoff deep into Play Rugby’s end. The defense layered on the pressure, until a knock-on during injury time ended the game. The victory marked Morris’ second-straight fall 7s title.

Morris Championship Team
Katrina Abedini
Gianna Caulfield
Alba Corney
Jordan Cowan
Tammy Cowan
Delia Hellander
Kelsey Joyce
Emily McHugh
Allie Mennella
Carola Pellegrino
Alie Ramage
Kelsey Svaasand
Brianna Whitfield

Kevin Corley – Head coach
Gene Caulfield – Assistant coach
Tom Feury - Assistant coach