Varsity contender Harvard won the Ivy 7s title. /// Photo courtesy Harvard Athletics (Gil Talbot)
Both the ACRA and Varsity 7s championships occur at Army West Point this weekend, bringing 24 colleges from the East Coast (and one Minnesotan side) to New York.
Seven of the eight varsity competitors are DI members of the National Collegiate Women’s Varsity Rugby Association. DI Navy replaces Quinnipiac, which won the first two stops of the varsity 7s circuit before concluding its season. The series included four tournaments and teams accumulated standings points for seeds into the final.
POOL A includes American International College, Norwich, Brown and West Chester. AIC comes in at number one, having advanced to every series final. The Yellow Jackets won the West Chester 7s and Bowdoin 7s, defeating Army for the trophies on both occasions. Last weekend in Brunswick, Maine, freshman Anne-Laurence Harvey broke AIC’s single-season 7s points record (previously held by Jess Davis), topping out at 235 points after scoring nine tries and eight conversions. Also watch for Bulou Mataitoga, who earned two coaches-nominated tournament MVP awards this season.
POOL B includes Harvard, Army, Dartmouth and Navy. Pool leader Harvard diversified its schedule this spring and played some high-level 7s opponents outside of the Northeast.
“I really think this team has tons of potential, and once they get a little experience under their belt and gain more confidence in themselves as rugby players, they’re going to gel and have fun,” Harvard coach Sue Parker prophesied at the beginning of the season. “We’re not measuring success by outcome but quality of play and continuing that going forward. They’re starting to realize their potential and setting goals, like winning, for themselves.”
And that’s exactly what the Crimson did this spring. After hosting two warm-up tournaments, the Crimson gave the Bobcats a run before finishing third at the Quinnipiac 7s; defeated DI Elite Lindenwood before falling 17-5 to Life University in the Atlanta 7s Festival final; and won its first-ever Ivy League 7s Championship last weekend and a berth to the USA Rugby College 7s Championship.
Watch for Anabiet Abasi who “is just made for 7s,” according to Parker. “She is super fast, works really hard and is a great cover tackler. She’s a tough one to contain.”
High School All American Caitlin Weigel has been effective this year, as has Maya Learned, Claire Collins and Haley Langan.
All of the teams have played a lot of 7s this spring and are capable of upsetting the seedings, and the final tournament couldn’t have a more picturesque and professional setting than Anderson Rugby Complex.
The ACRA tournament morphed from a championship into an invitational but features qualifier winners and at-large bids stretching from New Hampshire to Delaware. The most exciting addition is Minnesota’s Winona, which makes its first appearance in an ACRA 7s event. The Black Katts are 14-0 in 7s matches this spring and scored 730 unanswered points. Winona captain and Women’s Junior All American Lanoira Duhart leads the charge, while veterans like Nikki Linberg, Megan Wolff and Lachen Esters have been influential all season.
Winona tops Pool B, while 15s Final Four side Bloomsburg, Tri-State 7s champion Vassar, and Army’s second side lead their respective pools.
Pool A: Bloomsburg, New Hampshire, Albany, Marist
Pool B: Winona, Stony Brook, Kutztown, Rutgers
Pool C: Army, Merrimack, Hofstra, Delaware
Pool D: Vassar, Drexel, Coast Guard, East Stroudsburg
For the full schedule, visit www.acra-rugby.com.