River on the Rise

A rolling stone gathers no moss.  A rolling river, however, can swallow entire banks.  Building on momentum from last week’s emotional win over Hartford, Charles River traveled to Albany to face the Knickerbockers.  In an explosion of offense unprecedented this season, the Lady Rats unleashed seven tries, ringing a resounding win against the home team, 39-7.  River’s back line erupted.  Outside Center Sarah “Bee” Wetherbee scored three tries on the afternoon, Wing Katy Wilks earned two tries, and Alex Schmidt and Geni Beninati each touched down once.  Despite the final score, it wasn’t until a frightening moment banded River together that the Lady Rats rallied to produce the prolific offense.Forwards’ captain Jehanne Junguenet suffered a neck and back injury midway through the first half, which resulted in a long stoppage and required medical assistance.  (Junguenet has since recovered, never having lost her trademark sense of humor for a single second during the incident.)  At the time of the stoppage, Albany had scored the match’s only try and converted the kick after.  Trailing 7-0, River vowed to continue the match in honor of their injured teammate.

Having reined the ball in to the pack for the beginning of the first half, forwards on both sides battled back and forth early.  Props Kate Adams and Whitney McCoy were workhorses for River up front.  The ever-versatile Junguenet tried her hand at second row, alongside regular lock Jess Packard.  Jehanne stepped up in the absence of several players for River, until she was injured.  The equally versatile veteran Linda Morris stepped in to second row in her absence, and River didn’t miss a beat.  Morris, an invaluable contributor to the club, and one who has willingly played multiple positions this season, was awarded the Forwards’ Woman of the Match for the day.  Jen Garner also played very well, hooking the ball advantageously for River before she too displayed her versatility, moving around in the pack as newcomer Megan Tenca relieved her.

Scrumhalf Geni Beninati got the wheels turning for Charles River, before swapping spots with veteran Rat #9 Erin Gillespie at the half.  Gillespie, renowned for her ability to dig a clean ball from traffic, gave the Orange and Green some extra time for configuration and loose play.  River’s first score came on a run up the middle by Sarah “Bee” Wetherbee, with the Rats down 7-0.  Though Charles River narrowly missed the kick, keeping the score at 7-5, the match’s momentum began to shift.

Captain Maegan Hoover dazzled at flyhalf, making crisp passes and running evasively before unfortunately she too was injured in the second half.  Founding Rat Alex Schmidt played a phenomenal game, pinpointing kicks for which Albany had no answer.  One of those kicks resulted in a try for River, when a fortuitous vertical bounce placed the ball into the hands of River’s #13, springing her for a breakaway.  Schmidt would score a try of her own in the second half, advantageously tucking the ball for a run after replacing Hoover at #10.  The versatile veteran also kicked penalties and post-try points, making her instrumental in the victory.  The captains recognized Schmidt’s magnificent performance, bestowing the Backs’ Woman of the Match award on her at the postgame social.

Albany’s flyhalf had motioned to run a few times in the first half, but open-side flanker Susan Lackey shut the door, pulling down the #10 in blue before she could spring loose.  With the increased ball movement in the second half, Wing Katy Wilks shone.  Wilks had countless ferocious runs up the sidelines, two of which resulted in tries.  The veteran #11 so impressed Albany that they named her the Player of the Game for the opposing squad, citing that she had “pretty much destroyed” their back line defense.  The center combo of Jamie Carrillo and Sarah “Bee” Wetherbee crashed with success all match long; the new combination is becoming increasingly dynamic as they adapt to one another’s play.  Speedy back Alicia Scahill impressed both on the wing and then at fullback, when she transitioned there in the second half after several Rat injuries.  Despite the plentiful shuffling throughout the Charles River lineup, the Lady Rats achieved cohesion and displayed resilience during the match.  They took the game handily, defeating the home team 39-7.At the post-game social in downtown Albany, Schmidt, Wilks, and Morris were recognized for their prodigious efforts during the match.

Charles River owes special and gracious thanks to Albany, for hosting them for the game, the social, and for an evening inter-club celebration.  The Rats extend deep gratitude to Knickerbocker Caitlin Casey McGrath, and to her husband Brian, for hosting them at their home.  River would also like to thank the fans that traveled to support them during the game.

The Lady Rats will be back in action tomorrow in a cross-city rivalry with Boston Women’s Rugby.  Kickoff is scheduled for 11AM at Moakley Park in South Boston.