The Wooster women’s rugby team, like the rest of the world, has had to overcome its share of adversity over the past year-and-a-half. Co-President Claira Schiffrik ’23 noted that “the pandemic left us with only 10 players and no coach in May of this year.” However, the Scots showed off their resilience, having a last-second, game-winning try on Saturday, Sept. 18 in their home opener to capture a win over Denison University by a score of 45-40.
Despite the heat on Saturday, John Papp Stadium was filled with many members of the Wooster community who were eager to watch the rugby match. “I’m really thankful that students want to come out to our games and look forward to them, even though most aren’t familiar with rugby. It just goes to show how great our campus community is,” said Sammie Burke ’23.
The Scots rewarded their fans early in the game by pushing Denison backward, and eventually breaking through the left side of Denison’s defense to make the first try of the game. Unfortunately, the team also suffered a loss early in the physical game, when Etta DeMartino ’22 broke her finger in the scuffle. As the game wore on, it was clear that the two teams were evenly matched, as they traded scores throughout the first half. Tied 12-12, Sarah Snider ’23 had a long scamper for a try that gave Wooster a 19-12 lead. The Scots followed this up with a score on a terrific backward pass to take a two-score lead. Unfortunately for Wooster, Denison did not give up, scoring to cut the lead to 24-19 at halftime.
Wooster once again stretched the lead to two scores with Emma Van Amburgh ’24 scoring the first try of the second half. Just when it felt like the Scots were going to pull away and keep building on the 31-19 lead, Denison stole back the momentum with two quick tries. In about a minute, Wooster went from leading 31-19 to trailing 33-31. “Denison got ahead of us because we got too comfortable in our lead and let ourselves lean into our exhaustion,” said Schiffrik on the sudden turn of the game in favor of Denison. Fortunately, according to Burke, “we have such a great leader in our coach [Stephanie Snoeberger]. During our quick water break after the tries, she was just preaching to us to stay focused and that we need to just play our game.” Using the inspiration from their coach, each other, the crowd, and the competition, the Scots bounced back in a big way.
Following the Denison score, Wooster scored a try of its own to retake the lead at 38-33. Nevertheless, Denison continued to carve up the Scots for another quick score and kick to take a late 40-38 lead. When all seemed lost for the Scots, Schiffrik said, “we knew it was time to turn it back on. We pumped each other up with the support of the crowd and threw everything we had into our last play.” All the effort was worth it, as, with no time left on the clock, Paige Williams ’22 broke free and scored the game-winning try to give Wooster the 43-40 lead, with Schiffrik tacking on a made kick to finalize Wooster’s 45-40 victory.
After all the challenges that have marked Wooster women’s rugby, the team was thrilled with the game and their performance. “We have an amazing group of women ready for the upcoming season, and our last game showed all the talent and persistence instilled in each of us,” said Co-President Holly McAnlis ’22.
The team will go on the road on Saturday, Sept. 25 to face Kenyon College. The next home game for the Scots will be on Saturday, Nov. 6, come check it out!