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UC Davis Dominates Stanford in Brutal Battle

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UC Davis Dominates Stanford in Brutal Battle

Photo courtesy of UC Davis Women's Rugby

In an unexpected turn of events, the University of California, Davis soundly defeated Stanford University 46-19 this past Saturday.

Stanford, a DI Elite team, used to be a group that moved ball wide quickly to break the gain line and use the advantage to score flashy tries - but that didn't happen this time around.

“We knew they were a strong team that liked to swing the ball wide. We were surprised that Stanford mostly attacked inside,” UCD captain and wing Justine Joya said. “I think we just wanted it more. We knew this was our year, and we brought it to them.”

Stanford found itself with a lot of rookies and many players in new positions. The lack of experience showed. Within the first five minutes of the game, UCD was already claiming its place as fullback Carli Watt scored the first try, which flyhalf Becca Lehman converted. This set the tone for the game.

“They know who they are as an identity to their team,” Stanford Head Coach Josh Sutcliffe said. “We knew this was going to be a tough, physical team, and I think we underperformed.”

UCD lock Roxanne Lembke, lock Becca Graff, and No. 8 Paige Steiding finished the first half with tries as well. Lehman was able to make one more conversion kick before halftime. Stanford scrumhalf Olivia Bernadel-Huey was able to rocket in the first Stanford try of the game and then follow up with a successful conversion kick.

“We knew they would come back with fire, and we needed to be prepared,” Joya said. “It just seemed like it was kick-off, try, kick-off, try.”

The second half started off much like the first, as UCD outside center Erica Hipp scored early. UCD’s focus never wavered as the Aggies continued to hammer in try after try. On defense, the women stopped counter-rucking to conserve energy and focused on spreading the fence instead, which made their defensive game even more dominating.

Shortly after, Steiding completed her hat trick of the day, and Lehman touched one down as well after making one more kick through the uprights.

Stanford wing Esther Melton dotted down, and Bernadel-Huey added seven more points with a try and a conversion.

“We should have played more conservatively. We didn’t take advantage of two-on-one opportunities. We’re going to focus on getting the fundamentals right,” Sutcliffe said. “But, part of the journey is learning how to bounce back from disappointment.”

UCD and Stanford will be battling again on February 20, and Stanford is looking forward to the opportunity for retribution.  

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