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Massive Senior Class Extends DSHA Legacy

DSHA rugby

Divine Savior Holy Angels (DSHA) repeated as the Wisconsin Girls Rugby (WGR) 15s champion, but this year’s team and title run were special. For one, there are 20 seniors driving the Milwaukee program, so expect big things to follow in the spring 15s season. Secondly, the Dashers’ JV team also went undefeated this fall and technically qualified for the state final – a first in WGR and DSHA history. [Photos c/o Brian Frain & Annie Weiss]

For those seniors who played all four years at DSHA, their rugby journeys began during the covid fall of 2020. There are seven senior captains this year – four in the forwards and three in the backs.

“I think that each of us bring something different to the team and that’s why we work so well together,” senior flyhalf Evelyn Coffou lauded her fellow captains.

“Meghan Finerty is amazing at making sure everyone stays committed on and off the pitch,” Coffou praised the prop. “She is very dedicated and she strives for the rest of the team to be the same.”

DSHA rugby

Fellow front row Madison Turcinovic holds down that important role of hooker, and Greta Rehmann has the flexibility to be play both second row and flanker. Coffou praised their ability to both lead and teach the rookies the intricacies of the scrum.

“Melanie Sanchez is the one who puts the hammer down when we need her to,” Coffou looked to the No. 8. “She keeps the intensity of practice and games at a high level and it is reflected in her performances during games.”

Sanchez, scrumhalf Meghan Walsh and flyhalf Coffou are the well oiled hinge around which the team swings. They connect the pieces and launch a fast attack.

“Meghan Walsh is a walking example for all of our younger scrumhalves,” Coffou continued. “She goes above and beyond normal scrumhalf jobs and it is visible by the rest of the team. She leads by example, always giving her best, so our other scrumhalves can follow suit.

“Flannery O’Keef has played a few different back positions and understands the field and the game at a high level,” the flyhalf highlighted the inside center and seventh captain. “She is able to connect with those who played her position and lead them to success.”

DSHA has a big senior class but it also has a big overall roster, and as evidenced by Coffou’s descriptions of her fellow captains, development of depth is always front of mind.

DSHA Rugby

“Because we have so many upperclassmen, we were able to welcome and mentor the younger players on a personal level,” Rehmann noted. “All of the upperclassmen are really good about helping and encouraging the underclassmen, especially those that are new to the team. Because of this, I feel like our team has grown really close this year, and this helps us because we work harder for each other.”

With so much experience on the varsity team, there was solid competition for the few vacant positions. Some younger players stepped up their presence and were rewarded with varsity minutes. Turcinovic called out sophomore outside backs Sonia Perkovich, Maria Hilbert and Maddie Savoie, and junior tight-five Kate Ambrose.

“These girls were able to fill in for our seniors who have graduated,” Turcinovic explained. “We know that it could have been easy for them to compare themselves to the seniors that they filled in for, but we reminded them that everyone plays rugby in different ways and to not compare themselves to other players. I loved seeing our team develop throughout the season! It was fun seeing us develop into a well oiled machine!”

DSHA fields full varsity and JV teams, and they compete in separate conferences within WGR. This year, the league dropped from 10 to eight teams capable of playing 15s. That meant four teams in each conference and three league games per team.

“A big challenge was staying focused and motivated, despite having less games,” Finerty considered the impact. “We were able to stay motivated by thinking ahead to spring. In the spring, we have the Midwest and national tournaments and we play our toughest opponents. It’s easier to stay motivated when we consider that slacking off in the fall could risk our national title in the spring.”

DSHA’s two teams won their respective conferences and took the top seeds into the state semifinals. Varsity beat Stevens Point (SPASH) 86-0, and JV beat Catholic Memorial 15-10.



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“JV winning its conference, semifinal and also technically qualifying for the state championship really shows how much they have worked and the effort everyone puts into practice,” O’Keef praised her teammates. “Throughout the season during practice I can tell how bad the JV team really wanted to stick it to every other team out there, especially the seniors for their last fall season. It is such a big accomplishment not only for JV, but the entire program because we technically would have finished first and second in the state championship.”

The WGR league agreement stipulates that DSHA does not play DSHA in the playoffs (for more context, read more). Catholic Memorial advanced to the state championship on Oct. 29, which is actually a full day of games involving the whole field and placing matches. Before the title match evolved under the lights at Didier Field in Saukville, Madison-Muskego beat the Bruisers 38-31 for 7th; Green Bay Banshees finished 5th after beating Hamilton 21-7; and DSHA JV took 3rd with a 19-10 win against Stevens Point.

For the main show, DSHA varsity and Catholic Memorial renewed their long-time, friendly rivalry. The Crusaders won state 15s titles in 2015, 2017 and 2021, and the Dashers were in pursuit of their 19th trophy.

“I think the biggest thing that made this state championship game different is that it was me and 19 other people on the team’s last state championship game,” Walsh reflected. “Having a big senior class is very special and I think me and the other seniors wanted to have a special memory of winning our last state game. Having this in mind helped drive us not only during the championship but all season.”



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DSHA beat Catholic Memorial 38-7 for the championship title, capping an undefeated fall 15s season for both its varsity and JV teams.

“I believe we are a great team and we are very proud of what we were able to do this season, but we know we still have a long way to go, so we are not satisfied,” Sanchez closed on the first half of the rugby year. “Something we are especially proud of as a team was being able to incorporate new skills that no team at DSHA has been able to accomplish.

“For the second half of our season we are looking to, as our coach says, ‘Finish,’” the No. 8 continued. “This means competing at a very high level and being the best version of ourselves individually and as a whole team. We aspire to win the Midwest tournament as well as the national tournament and show everyone that we are the best team in the country.”

WGR teams have options in the spring. They can join the spring 7s circuit and/or pursue 15s into the regional (Midwest) and national (single-school championship) realms. Expect to see the Dashers in the latter route, as the big senior class escort the new and younger classes through an evolving legacy.

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