A four-hour drive, an unusual lineup, and a weighty size mismatch helped cage the Rats last weekend as they traveled to Burlington, Vermont to take on the “Burly Girls”. The loss marked the first time the fledgling D-II Charles River squad failed to register a “W” during weekend play this season. Their only other loss came in a round-robin tournament with Boston Women’s and Portland.
Charles River brought a feisty game, though, and the Orange and Green stood their ground, despite playing extra time with only two subs against Burlington’s full A and B squads. In spite of rallying efforts, though, Burlington barreled through River, leveraging their size and height advantage in the pack. First-time River flyhalf, Captain Amanda Martin, called the plays for the back line, hooking up with veteran scrumhalf Erin Gillespie, who facilitated the flow. Gillespie was handed a herculean task in digging the ball out of breakdowns, with a tsunami of white jerseys cresting over the diminutive Rats. Whitney McCoy and Captain Jehanne Junguenet led the charge for ball maintenance, tirelessly supporting teammates through breakdowns. Susan Lackey, Jordan Ciciliano and Kara McAuliffe led the tackling effort, fearlessly pulling down Burly Girls with antlike displays of physical prowess. The home team persisted, though, and had gathered several tries by the third of three “periods” played between the teams on the afternoon.
A motley River back line, none of whom played in their usual positions, struggled to find chemistry. Forwards Julie “Traut” Trautwein and Linda Morris filled in for Rats who had fallen victim to injury or scheduling conflicts. The stuttering #s 10 through 15 failed to garner momentum, and the normally prolific Rats struggled to score. Charles River’s lone try on the afternoon came from center-cum-flyhalf Amanda Martin, on a dazzling personal effort. Martin tucked the ball as encroaching Burlington players negated a back line set play. She darted through several Burly Girls, dodging tackles, before breaking free inside the 22-meter line and heading for the try zone. Jordan Ciciliano laced an impressive long-range conversion to cap the score.
With two more injuries striking the already-sparse Rats during the match, energy levels dwindled. The ladies of Charles River found motivation in enthusiasm though, rallying around each other at the end of the marathon match. Charles River captains Amanda Martin and Jehanne Junguenet recognized flanker Susan Lackey and scrumhalf Erin Gillespie as MVPs of the game. Lackey, in her trademark ferocious on-field style, had made several head-turning tackles to pin Burlington. Gillespie, whose yeoman’s work ethic often goes under-recognized, was lauded for her field presence and cerebral play control. Having still wowed the opponents even in a completely unfamiliar position, Amanda Martin was awarded Charles River MVP by Burlington.
Charles River would like to thank Burlington for hosting them in an aggressive match. The Lady Rats will head to Newport, Rhode Island, this weekend, to compete in the annual New England Rugby Football Union tournament. Their first match is scheduled for 4PM on Saturday, and will be followed by a second match on Sunday.