Bloomsburg Women’s Rugby Makes MARC History
This past weekend, the Bloomsburg University Women’s Rugby team travelled out to Cumberland Valley High School, in Mechanicsburg, to compete for the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Conference (MARC) championship. This is the second year that Bloomsburg has advanced in an undefeated season to the finals since gaining skillful coach, Kevin Castner. Last year, Bloomsburg came out on top when they defeated rival Kutztown for the first time and after falling second to them the year prior. This year, the Huskies completed a similar 6-0 season, while not giving a single score from opponents until they met the also undefeated MARC team, York College of Pennsylvania. The two teams fought for the top marked seed during the final game of both of their seasons. The Bloomsburg home match consisted of supporting October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month by playing in pink and donating to the Young Survivors Coalition: a non-profit organization that supports young girls affected with breast cancer. York left with the loss on their record, but were the only team in the conference to score on Bloomsburg, yet only a total of 20 points to Bloomsburg’s 77.
The playoffs, held November 5th and 6th, consisted of Bloomsburg playing the second team in the Tri-State MARC conference, St. Joseph’s University. On Saturday, they were shut out 117-0. The team scored 18 overall tries, similar to touchdowns, but are held at five points each with an additional two points for a preceding conversion kick. Bloomsburg’s Selena Fernandez, jumped to score the first try in a matter of minutes after the initial kickoff, a lead they have echoed in the majority of the starting minutes throughout the season. St. Joe’s spent the game in their own try zone as the Huskies outgained them repeatedly. 18 total tries were scored from a wide range of Bloomsburg players, including four by Selena Fernandez, rookie Sarah Van Cise with two of her own, and Atalyia Eisenhauer to cap the score at 117. Jade Hensinger cleaning off the tries with her solid distance kicks. It was a vicious start to the playoffs weekend.
The Huskies then advanced to play well-known Kutztown University in the final game on Sunday at 12 PM. Kutztown, who defeated York the day prior, sought to regain their championship title as Bloomsburg outgained them the previous year, a solid victory for Bloomsburg of 76-8. The match begins with another Bloomsburg advantage as noted Fernandez took the run through into the try for a certain start. The sidelines were booming as both teams poured energy onto the field. The game was rigorous for all 80 minutes. Kutztown would advance so many meters until stopped by a persistent Bloomsburg rugger. The next phase dominated by the Huskies, controlling the ball until a Kutztown turnover. Then, Fernandez with another try! The whole match seemed to play out this way, with strong tackles by each team, including Bloomsburg’s Megan Reilly, who showed hard hits that were mirrored by the wincing of the fans. Reilly pushed her way to the next try, bringing the Huskies to 17 over the scoreless Kutztown, and Hensinger completing the job with another powerful kick. It wasn’t until the second half when Kutztown answered, carrying the match to 17-7, a Bloomsburg lead. With the match time winding down, the intensity was quickly building. Reilly, for number two of the game, rushed past to put another try on the board to bump Bloomsburg up to 22 points. The final minutes of the championship match were spent rigorously holding Kutztown back from the Bloomsburg try. The team fought for those next steps over the try line, but the Huskies lead them to end the game with a final score of 22-7, the second Bloomsburg championship win in a row. Bloomsburg has been crowned the only team in MARC history to be repeated champions back to back.
Our own Bloomsburg women’s team now enters into the national playoffs competing for the top place in DII women’s rugby. The team finished third last fall after spending a weekend down in Greenville, South Carolina at Furman University. After their bye this weekend, the team will head to Kutztown University to play the winner of the Coast Guard and Maine-Orono match. From there, the team will hopefully meet back down in Greenville to express themselves as the number one DII team in the nation!