A national championship is often the hardest thing to attain for any team. Back-to-back championships are things that some programs only dream of. A three-peat, though, is nearly inconceivable. That mentality doesn’t apply to the Quinnipiac women’s rugby team.
The team took down Dartmouth College in an exhilarating match by a score of 29-20, winning their third-straight National Intercollegiate Rugby Association Championship. As they have so many times this season, they came back from behind. They also continued a trend: scoring in bunches.
After finding themselves down 15 points, the Bobcats turned to Mikah Maples (Mowequa, Illinois) to bring them up. The sophomore found an opening on the pitch to the left side, bullying her way in to bring the Bobcats within five. On the play, she was assisted by three-time All-American and reigner Ma Sorensen Player of the Year Ilona Maher (Burlington, Vermont).
Maher, as she has all season, put the team on her back. Along with the assist on Maples’ try, Maher tallied two tries and an additional assist, giving her five tries and two assists for the tournament and earning NIRA Championship Most Valuable Player honors. Maher scored the crucial try that gave the Bobcats the 17-15 lead after Margaret Wesolowski (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) nailed the conversion.
With the victory, the team finishes the year with a perfect 8-0 record at home. A home field is something they didn’t have for the entirety of their program before this season.
After Mikah Maples and Ilona Maher did their work in the try zone, Tayler Schussler (Westminster, Maryland) put the final touch on the match with a try of her own.
The cold was bitter, the wind was a factor, and the mud was thick. The team didn’t care, though. Nothing was going to stop them. The determination is what they had.
“Just because you won the first national championship and you won the second one, that means nothing,” senior Flora Poole (Christchurch, New Zealand) said.
That mentality rang true today, as the team knew they had to change things coming out of the half. After falling to Dartmouth earlier in the season, Quinnipiac knew they couldn’t afford to take anything for granted.
They lived, breathed and fought to prove the one phrase that they preached all season; Each game is our biggest game of the year.
Perhaps more importantly, the team’s win marked a significant moment for the trajectory of collegiate women’s rugby.
“Our win is more important for the growth of our sport,” head coach Becky Carlson remarked.
With the incredible feat of the three consecutive championships attained, the program is far from finished. The program’s future is bright, according to both Carlson and fans alike. Maher believes it. too, as she’s leaving behind a program in good hands.