CSU Women's Rugby had the most successful season thus far in its history.
In the fall, CSU only lost its first game against rival University of Colorado. After the loss, the Rams bounced back and showed their dominance in West, beating New Mexico 34-5, Air Force 34-10, and University of Wyoming 27-0. They successfully held their first Alumni game, which is a tradition they want to continue for years to come. The last game of the season was a second match up against University of Colorado, but this time CSU was better prepared. They came together and pushed to gain an advantage by scoring early, and kept their composure throughout. They showed their immense progress and beat the Buffs 33-19, with tries from scrumhalf Jozy Gessner (2), 8-man Wendy Sherman, lock Leah Darr, and wing Liz Dinkel, and four conversions made by flyhalf Laura Whitney. "CSU came out from the opening kick-off and wanted the game more," Colorado coach Jim Stebbins said. "CSU was the better team today, by far this is the best team I have seen in ERRFU this year."
Going into the spring season, the Rams seemed to be at a disadvantage player-wise, but their losses didn't stop the team from succeeding. The team was without their starting locks from the fall, Kira Marshall moved and Leah Darr was out due to an achilles injury. It didn't help that the first weekend back flyhalf Laura Whitney fractured her collarbone and separated her shoulder at a select side camp and captain/8-man Wendy Sherman broke two ribs in a game against University of Northern Colorado, which the team won 55-0. The following weekend the team traveled to University of New Mexico and had a great team win, defeating the Lobos 20-17, with tries from Jozy Gessner, Liz Dinkel, and Lauren Presley. With injuries still holding the team back and scrumhalf Jozy Gessner at a U-20 national team camp, CSU Women's Rugby lost to Air Force 10-5. This loss was tough, but put things in perspective for the team and forced them to focus on the mental aspect of the game.
Next, CSU Women's Rugby went to Norman, Oklahoma, to compete in the West Rugby Union regionals tournament, which determined the teams who got to continue onto the national tournament. They went in as the second ERRFU seed and the third seed overall behind Texas A&M and University of Colorado with University of New Mexico as the fourth overall seed. The Rams faced familiar rival University of Colorado first, who showed up to play. The teams battled for eighty minutes, but the Buffs offense wasn't good enough to get through the mighty CSU defense, who stopped multiple try-scoring opportunities. The final score was 12-10. The next day, the Rams faced University of New Mexico, who beat Texas A&M the day before. Although CSU dominated the game, the score was low, with a lone try from freshman wing Audrey Adgate. The win against UNM made CSU Women's Rugby the West D1 champion, which is a huge feat considering this is only their third year competing as a D1 squad.
After winning regionals, the team buckled down at practice and kept the goal of nationals in mind. They played friendlies against Colorado College, Wyoming, and Air Force, which all resulted in shut-outs. These games really allowed the team to work together and perfect the continuity needed to compete with teams at a higher level.
For the first time, the team traveled to the national tournament in Blaine, Minnesota. They were one of sixteen teams nationwide to make it to this level. The team went in as the West Rugby Union champion, with runner-up New Mexico as the second.
In the first round, CSU Women's Rugby faced a hard, physical Navy team. The team was a battle, and to begin it was anyone's game. Navy was first to score, but flyhalf Laura Whitney made two penalties and scrumhalf Jozy Gessner scored a try to make the score after the first half 24-11. In the second half, Navy came out even stronger. The only score in the second half from CSU was an awesome kick and chase from prop Devyn Lane that resulted in a try. The team made a lot of penalties that ended up costing them multiple tries, and the Midshipmen were able to come out on top with the 41-18 win.
The next day, CSU Women's Rugby played in the consolation round against UCLA in less than favorable weather conditions. The game wasn't pretty, but the Rams were victorious. In the first half, CSU scored first, but couldn't hold onto the lead as the Bruins tied it up at 5-5 going into halftime. The second half was dominated by CSU, but it wasn't until a few minutes into injury time that they put more points onto the board. Lock Lindsy Ciepiela got a breakway and ran through their defense for a try, which was successfully converted by prop Devyn Lane. The final score was 12-5. The win in this game was crucial because next year West's seeding will be higher and therefore play lower seeded teams.
Overall, it was a great season of hard work and determination. Thanks for the support and we'll catch you next fall!