LOUDONVILLE – It is the business end of the season now for the Vassar Women and with 19 of the current squad of 42 having been here before, they all know it’s about hard work and defense. Individual players within units have to perform at a high level and all have to make tackles. Vassar played Marist College earlier this Fall winning 24-7 and in that game the cross-town rivals had shown they were a serious threat for at the half it had been just a one score 7-0 lead. In this, the Tri-State Conference Championship game, it was close early into the second half with Vassar up just 3 points at 17-14. But the Brewers pulled away to take the title as both teams advance to the National playoffs next weekend.
Vassar College 32 v 14 Marist College Women
Tries: Meg Martin (4), Halle Hutchinson (1) & Molly Lynch (1).
Cons: Meg Martin (1).
It was a banner day for Vassar prop forward Meg Martin as she collected 22 points scoring 4 tries and kicking a conversion. She ran with real purpose and worked hard throughout the game. Early on the Vassar scrum shoved back the Marist forwards so it was a tad ironic that the Vassar scrum came under some pressure in the first half as Marist shoved the Vassar 8 back on at least two occasions.
Vassar set out their stall early and punched over the gain line making good yards with their forwards. The backs, with freshman Marie Claire Cicenia pulling the strings at number 10, kept matters simple and did likewise. If it’s good enough for the World Champions South Africa, then it sure as heck is good enough for the Brewers!
Meg Martin scored first for Vassar from close range and she and her fellow forwards had all rumbled well. Next, it was the turn of Halle Hutchinson who added another try. At 12-0 Vassar looked comfortable as Marist attempted to swing the ball wide and get into their game.
Defensively, the Red Foxes knew what to expect and they built their defense, screaming instructions and getting set up quickly but they were starved of possession.The contest began to take shape and after a series of penalties by Vassar it was Marist that applied some territorial pressure which in the end led to a try following a number of messy rucks. Vassar had the blindside covered with 4 defenders but the penultimate attacker of 4 cut inside and was missed twice.
Vassar responded well and eventually after a series of attacks on the right flank the ball was driven forward it was that woman Martin who dived in for the score. At the half it was 17-7.
Vassar range the changes at the half with co-captain Aislinn Vences-Dimas replacing MC Cicenia. The latter had done well making some important tackles. Caroline James went into the center and was now partnered by Emma Manzella who replaced Sophia Blush and Emily Howell went on to the flank. Marist had the best possible start to the second half within minutes of the restart. Vassar was matched up 4 v 4 at a ruck and the ball was moved from 9 to 10 to 12 and the Marist center went right between two would be Vassar tacklers, both of whom made shoulder contact with her! To add insult to injury she then stepped the Vassar fullback and although Emily Howell chased her down the flanker pulled up with an injury to her shoulder and could not make the tackle. It was now a 17-14 game. Howell was replaced by Morgan Hayman and that shunted Charlotte Benoit to the flank as she relinquished the hooker slot.
Vassar restarted and marist found it difficult to get out of their 22 although they did have a couple of line breaks but Vassar scrambled back and regained possession. Vences-Dimas had thrown 3 forward passes but finally put Emma Manzella through a gap and following a couple of phases the ball was swung wide to Molly Lynch and the fullback scampered in to give Vassar some breathing space at 22-14. Marist continued to struggle to get into the Vassar half and with Vassar making yards on carries and starting to dominate the set scrums it was always going to be an uphill battle for the team in red.
Vassar stuck to the game plan and monopolized the ball and it led to two further tries from Martin and at the end it was Vassar winning the war of the whitewash 6 tries to 2.
Special mention is due to Mia Walsh as she was constantly in the thick of all the action and made a slew of tackles. Kayla Vasquez also had a good day in the lineout and but for a couple of dubious decisions when driving mauls collapsed Vassar might have had another two tries.
The Brewers face the University of Vermont in the Round of 32 next Saturday and will no doubt need to be at their best, for the visitors have beaten the U.S. Coast Guard Academy this Fall and probably fancy their chances. A solid week of practice and tons of enthusiasm will go along way to being prepared but the proof of the pudding will be the Brewers willingness to tackle and stop teams from scoring.