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Quinnipiac, Army, Sacred Hart Open NIRA Season With Victories

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Quinnipiac, Army, Sacred Hart Open NIRA Season With Victories

Quinnipiac won big over Brown. Photo Quinnipiac Athletics.

Sacred Heart welcomed Princeton into the NCAA rugby sorority with an emphatic 53-21 defeat of the Tigers.

Alyssa Cunningham logged 19 points on seven conversions and a try, while Fabiola Millien-Faustin touched down twice in a solid team effort for Sacred Heart. Millien-Faustin's first try took less than three minutes to score and the Pioneers led 31-0 at halftime.

It was a bit of a learning experience for Princeton. The first few tries were especially frustrating, with one being a penalty kick to touch that rolled into in-goal, where no Tiger pounced on it, and the third being a fairly innocuous run up the middle that was just not covered well. Princeton adjust as time went on, though.

"Our first varsity match was a climb to the finish," said Princeton Head Coach Josie Ziluca. "We had to work out some nerves in the beginning of the first half, but by the time the second half was rolling our Tigers were engaging in stride together. Our goal was to stay connected and have our functionality tested. Erica De San Jorge, Priya Naphade, and Amelia Clarke scored Princeton's tries, with Alayshja Bable converting all three. 

Sacred Heart's forwards put Princeton under a ton of pressure throughout.

Army cast aside  a very physical Mount St. Mary's, scoring in the second minute through a penalty try. But MSM came right back to take a 7-5 after eight minutes. That would be the Mount's high-water mark. Scrumhalf Gwynn Campos sold an outrageous dummy and scored to put the Black Knights in the lead again. Then Emma Richards-Smith set up Sydney Schaff, who scored on a cutback, and Julia Riekena intercepted a Mountaineers pass to go in untouched from 18 meters out. Schaff converted one and Alissa Eisenhart converted two more for a 26-7 halftime lead for West Point.

Cecilia Ollis scored on her college debut to get the second half going, and then Sophia Linder set up Codi Butt nicely to make it (with Eisenhart's conversions) 40-7.

Firstie captain Kaylee Cargile, Mckhaye O'Boyle, and Butt all went over to cap it off.

And Quinnipiac put everyone on notice with a 47-14 defeat of Brown in the opening weekend. The bobcats ran out to a 32-0 lead after 50 minutes before Brown was able to claw back a little closer.

But tries from Grace Dagenais, Abbey Terpstra, and Addison Walker set the tone as Quinnipiac led 15-0 after 14 minutes. Brown settled down a shade after that to hold the Bobcats scoreless for about 20 minutes. But as halftime loomed Anna Van Dyk and Alexis Haskins scored to make it 25-0. No conversions, but still a commanding lead.

Hannah Pfersch built on that score in the second half, with a try converted by Fódhla Ní Bhroanáin slotting the extras. Noelle Lewis ran in off a scrum to get one back for Brown and make the score 32-7. Then Morgan Cunningham turned the ball over and galloped 80 meters before offloading to Nikki Lynch for Brown's second try—both were converted by freshman and recent Illinois Tornadoes all-star Julia Murray.

But Quinnipiac put the game to bed late with a try from Haley Crow and two from freshman Cassidy Dugdale (San Diego Mustangs). 

Those results put Army and Quinnipiac squarely atop NIRA's DI. But there's plenty of rugby to be played, with Dartmouth and Harvard among the teams still to take the field.