GRR on X  GRR on Facebook GRR in Instagram GRR Vimeo Library GRR on YouTube RuggaMatrix America Podcasts Support GRR on Patreon

Quinnipiac Leads Bounceback Time in NIRA

irish rugby tours

Quinnipiac Leads Bounceback Time in NIRA

Gracie Cartwright finds some space. Photo Rob Rasmussen.

This was a weekend of fairly lopsided results in NIRA, but it was also a bit of a bounceback for some.

Bobcats Show Claws

After a big loss to Harvard in their opening weekend and a frustrating cancelation last week, the Bobcats defeated Navy in very impressive fashion 46-3. Kelsey Thomas scored two tries for Quinnipiac, Fódhla Ní Bhraonáin scored 16 points with the boot, while flanker Riva Van Der Valk scored a try and helped lead a really strong defensive effort.

"We made some drastic positional adjustments from last year which, as expected, caused a few aches early on against Harvard but we are grateful with each game to show off the progress of the transition," said Quinnipiac Head Coach Rebecca Carlson. "We will have to go through those aches if we want to be around in postseason. The group we have now is not content with being middle of the pack and are anxious to prove it."

Carlson has been looking long-term, and while that might be long-term within the context of this season it's also longer term than that. Quinnipiac Rugby has a big freshman class, the largest they have ever had. While focused on this season, the plan is to be strong every year.

Right now it's about handling what the opposition gives you and that means paying attention and thinking quickly.

"We need to continue to see more of our game plan executed when under pressure," said Carlson. "We are really front-loading our work on reconnaissance on our opponents and understanding that while our game plan can focus on how they execute their style, we must be disciplined in our own game plan regardless of who’s on the other side of the pitch."

So far Van Der Valk has been very strong at flanker. She is on track to obliterate Quinnipiac's career tackle record and she's only a junior. Right now she has 153 tackles to her name, and the record is 216. At her current rate she could eclipse the record by the end of this season, and recently just jumped from 9th all time to 5th, bypassing former players Maggie Myles (now the Head Coach at Mount St. Mary's), Tayler Schussler, Eagle 7s star Ilona Maher, Raechel Stimson, and Mason Johnson.

Anna Van Dyk is a senior lock who is playing superbly in open play but really causes opponents problems in the lineout. Ní Bhraonáin, a sophomore, is excellent with her goalkicking but that's not all, as she has good field vision, sets up her teammates well, and works hard on defense.

All of this was on display against a Navy team that has a lot to recommend it. Navy, just starting out in the NCAA world, will be improving every year, and we've seen so far this season in NIRA that the drive to improve is pretty strong throughout the league.

Elsewhere in NIRA

Sacred Heart is now 3-0 after slamming Mount St. Mary's 55-5. Reese Torticill continued her try-scoring streak with two, while Caitlyn Caldon added two of her own, while twin freshman recruits Olivia and Reece Woods both scored their first tries for the Pioneers. Alyssa Cunningham kicked well and was strong overall. After wins over Army, Brown, and the Mount, Sacred Heart has Quinnipiac, Navy, and LIU on the schedule. They are nicely-placed for a playoff spot, but there are some tough opponents waiting for them there.

Like ... Harvard, which defeated Queens 67-7 to also move to 3-0. Cameron Fields and Tiahna Padilla scored two tries each and Chloe Headland scored a try and converted five. Give up turnovers to Harvard at your peril.

Army finally got a number in the win column with a 39-5 victory over Long Island and they produced a nicely-balanced attack.

In DII AIC and Davenport both won convincingly. In DIII, UNE won comfortably over Norwich and, in a non-conference game outside of NIRA (NIRA teams are allowed a limited number of those fixtures), Bowdoin beat Northeastern with a nicely balanced attack.