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Davenport Young & Driven

  • 13 Nov 2018

Photos: Bobby Gable

Davenport University holds the USA Rugby DI College Fall Championship title and has spent the fall readying a young, lean roster for another post-season run. Captains Olivia Ortiz and Lexy King – two of four upperclassmen on the roster – have been charged with the team’s direction and appreciate the process the squad’s endured thus far.

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“We have had to do a lot of teaching, especially in the beginning of the season, but have shown a tremendous amount of growth,” King pointed to a large freshman class and first-years.

Captain Olivia Ortiz / Photo: Bobby Gable

“The sophomores have stepped up both in play and teaching, specifically Mariah Pruitt, Lily O’Connor, Bethany Gable, and Megan Bird,” the captain added. “Their leadership has helped to mold the new players and build their confidence.”

That guidance has seen freshmen like Paige Grossi, Lilly Hartbarger, Cole Schield and transfer Ashley Willsea make an immediate impact on the pitch. A diverse schedule began with more manageable opponents, which afforded some give for the newer players and a budding team chemistry, and culminated with some of the toughest teams in the country.

Sophomore Megan Bird / Photo: Bobby Gable

“This season we decided to play a few higher-level teams such as Lindenwood and Penn State. This forced us to play at a higher level ourselves, and despite the losses, we grew as a team,” King explained. “We have had to learn from our mistakes in the games, forcing us to adapt and overcome the challenges we faced. Holding our own against Penn and Lindenwood proved to ourselves that we are capable of more than we thought was possible with such low numbers and new players.”

In October, Davenport dropped a 43-32 contest to Penn State and a 25-14 match to Lindenwood. The DI fall quarterfinals are next, and Davenport will travel to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to face Northeastern University. The Maddogs earned their spot in the Fall Round of 8 after beating Navy 29-0 on Saturday (read more). The Nov. 17 victor will play the winner of UConn vs. Michigan State on Sunday.

Lexy King / Photo: Bobby Gable

For Division I, this upcoming weekend is the only one with back-to-back games, and depth is always crucial on day two. That will be Davenport’s biggest challenge, but it’s one with which the Michigan school is familiar.

“This team is very excited for this upcoming post-season,” King concluded. “We have maintained our intensity in our practices despite going two weeks without a game. We really want to prove to everyone that even with our young team we can defend the fall championship and defeat whoever opposes us.”


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