The Big Green started off the fall season with strong wins against several opponents, but struggled to develop offense against the tough defensive teams in the top tier of the Ivy Rugby Conference.
In the two weeks prior to this critical challenge match with Cornell (winner of the second-tier division) they focused on offensive patterns and re-evaluated set piece play, and proved that they clearly deserved their Top Division spot as they worked their way to a first half 29-0 on a cold but clear day. Dartmouth's offense came roaring alive after a turnover ball led to a 60-meter sprint into the try zone by winger Diana Wise '15 at the 10 minute mark.
Strong vertical attacks by Dartmouth’s pack effectively collapsed Cornell’s defense and resulted in several tries for Dartmouth. Mayowa Willoughby ’14 broke through several defenders on a #8 pickup to bring the DWRC within 15 meters of the try zone. The back line sent the ball out wide for fullback Matt Sturm ’13 to beat the remaining opposition around the outside and race into the try zone for Dartmouth’s second try. Dartmouth’s third try was the result of a recently-installed offensive series off a set scrum center that showcased the kind of team integration the DWRC has been working towards all season. Attacks by both backs and forwards up the right side of the scrum concentrated Cornell’s defense to one side of the field. #10 Karoline Walter ’13 looped in the centers to deliver the ball to Pallavi Kuppa-Apte ’14, who negotiated the remaining defenders to touch down a try. The DWRC continued to attack out wide, which created space for center Sabrina Amaro ’13 to crash through Cornell’s defense with her hard running to touch the ball down between the posts. Dartmouth’s final try was the result of another #8 pickup by the unstoppable Willoughby, who charged all the way to the try zone from the DWRC’s defense 45-meter line.
The second half of the match, however, belonged to Cornell, as they proved why they were the top finishers in the second tier, and why they had lost to first-place Brown in a cross-divisional game by only a try. They began out-rucking Dartmouth and for much of the second half Dartmouth was unable to complete multiple phases of offense. Numerous penalties on the DWRC resulted in Cornell putting two tries on the board early enough in the half to make the game interesting. Dartmouth held on to its lead but did not capitalize on several opportunities in the green zone and had to settle for a scoreless half and lukewarm win against a spirited and aggressive second-half team.
Referee: Chris Davis
Dartmouth Diana Wise ’15, 5-0
Dartmouth conversion Karoline Walter ’13, 7-0
Dartmouth try Matt Sturm ’13, 12-0
Dartmouth try Pallavi Kuppa-Apte ’14, 17-0
Dartmouth try Sabrina Amaro ’13, 22-0
Dartmouth conversion Walter, 24-0
Dartmouth Mayowa Willoughby ’14, 29-0
Half Dartmouth 29 – Cornell 0
Cornell try, score 29-7
Cornell try, score 29-12
Final Dartmouth 29 – Cornell 12
This win makes Dartmouth the fourth seed in the Ivy Conference XV Playoffs. The playoffs are scheduled for March 30th at a location TBD. Dartmouth now has less than a week to prepare for Ivy 7's Champions, which will be held on Saturday, November 10th at Princeton. The winner of the tournament gets an automatic bid to the National 7's Championships, which will be held on November 30-December 1 at Texas A&M.