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Morris Wins NE Invitational

  • 18 Apr 2016
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Morris leading try-scorer Delia Hellander. /// Photo: Diane Gutschmidt Ramage

 

The Northeast Invitational brought together some of the best high school-age teams on the East Coast, and one from Canada, for a weekend of higher-level play. With one exception, each side played two games Saturday and a placing match Sunday. The region’s two most successful teams in recent history – Morris and West End – went undefeated on day one and contested a stellar final, which is now the standard between these friendly rivals.

 

The Ruckettes posted massive wins on Saturday, outscoring Pennsylvania’s Valkyries and Doylestown 141-0. Host Morris played two closer games on day one. Ontario’s Cobourg scored 12 first-half points against the host, which kept it close with a Delia Hellander try, and conversion and penalty kick from Allie Mennella. Morris flanker Jordan Cowan scored two tries in the second stanza and earned Player of the Match honors with her huge defensive effort and tackle work rate. Mennella’s conversion gave Morris a comfortable 22-12 lead as time ticked off, but Cobourg had the final say with a try as time expired, 22-17. The Canadians finished the day with a 60-7 win over the Valkyries.

 

Morris then lined up against North Bay, which had topped Doylestown 40-5, for game two. The New Jersey side’s backs were influential, accounting for four first-half tries through Hellander (2), wing Tyffany Brisbane and inside center Emily McHugh. Eventual Player of the Match Hellander continued to pierce the defense with hard running lines and found the try zone twice more. The Harvard commit finished day one with five tries and led the way in backline defense. Prop Valerie Medina scored as well, and with Mennella’s two conversions, Morris won 39-21.

 

“We took notice of the excellent support lines and offloading of the entire West End team, and the players knew they needed to make positive tackles and get into the passing lanes if they were to avoid the same fate [of West End’s opponents],” Morris coach Tom Feury reported in advance of Sunday’s final. “Morris and West End have played several hotly contested matches over the last three years. Their final match on Sunday took advantage of the longer 30-minute halves and tested all the players’ resilience on the second day of play.”

 

West End took the first lead as all-star Elizabeth Wilson took a penalty from Morris’ 22 meter and sliced through the defense for a converted try. Solid passing through the backs put Mennella in for a score, and the wing added a penalty before the break for the 8-7 lead.

 

West End restored its lead after stealing a Morris scrum and then sending No. 8 Wilson around the blind side. She fended the wing for her second try and 12-8 lead. The host created opportunities as well and used a quick lineout to put Hellander away for the center’s sixth try of the weekend, 13-12 to Morris.

 

Defense marked the final eight minutes of play, and Morris flyhalf Kelsey Joyce was inspirational in her tackles as well as distribution skills throughout the day. Her efforts earned her Player of the Match honors as Morris held onto the one-point win.

 

“I consider the first Northeast Invitational to be a success,” Feury reflected. “We met our objectives of bringing in the best competition we could find, create interesting match-ups and raising the level of play for every team that participated. From my perspective as the coach of Morris, I am even more satisfied.”

 

On Sunday, Play Rugby Academy subbed in for Doylestown and beat Cobourg 39-15. North Bay finished 2-1 after a 38-24 victory over the Valkyries.

 

The tournament has already received interest for next year, as teams like New York state champion Orchard Park indicated that the invitational will become a priority. As the fixture grows in popularity, there’s hope that East Coast teams will be a more regular fixture at the club and single-school national championships.

 

Saturday

West End 73-0 Valkyries 
West End 68-0 Doylestown 
Morris 22-17 Cobourg
Morris 39-21 North Bay 
North Bay 40-5 Doylestown 
Cobourg 60-7 Valkyries

 

Sunday

Play Rugby Academy 39-15 Cobourg
North Bay 38-24 Valkyries
Morris 13-12 West End

 

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