GVSU women’s club rugby open season with 32-15 win over Oakland

GVL/Kevin Sielaff

Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff

Natalie Longroy

Grand Valley State club women’s rugby started off the season on a high note in their first game with a 32-15 win against Oakland University Saturday, Sept. 17 at home.

“We did some things really fundamentally well but we also didn’t take advantage of what they gave us,” said head coach Abe Cohen. “We didn’t execute things, we left some points on the field, but we really played well together.”

With this being the first match of rugby for many players, there are bound to be mistakes. But for the rookies on this team, they brought their A-game.

“We did great at not causing penalties, which is huge when we have people playing their first game,” said co-captain Maria Midena. “A lot of the rookies stepped up and put what we do in practice on the field, which is what we need and it was great.”

One key rookie is freshman Alexa Andary. This was her first game in a Laker uniform and she scored her first try.

“I didn’t think I was going to start but as the game went on it was a lot less hectic than I thought it would be,” Andary said. “I was very discouraged because being a full back, everybody’s getting past me so when we had the advantage going I was pumped.”

The team had a good defensive match with overall ball control in the first half. Even without the ball, GVSU pushed Oakland back on defense.

With this being the first game of the season, kinks still need to be worked out.

“We need to get back into the groove of the physicality of the game,” Lizzie Randall said. “Our defensive line needs to be sorted out a little bit, we need to make sure we’re getting wide and not clumping.”

Challenges this team will face this season goes back to the basics.

“This season I think building endurance for the whole game is always a struggle because you have 15 players and limited subs, so being able to play your hardest that full 80 minutes is always probably going to be our biggest challenge,” Midena said.

This team isn’t just a team, but a family.

“Our motto is ‘family up’ and everybody’s just doing it for each other,” Cohen said.

With new players added every year, team dynamics change but the goal is the same: to become a winning team.

“We definitely gel as a team really nicely this year,” Randall said. “We got a lot of new players but we’re already clicking and bonding, which is very important for the sport.”

Besides practice and matches, the team hangs out outside of rugby.

“We hang out every weekend pretty much and that really brings the team together,” Midena said. “We’re all really good friends right now which is awesome.”

With a long season ahead of them, the team only has one opponent in mind.

“Give Davenport a good game,” said co-captain Leah Fast. “But they’re going to be definitely one of the strongest and the better teams that we’re going to play.”

But for Cohen, it’s not just a match.

“Hopefully it will be a war,” he said.

The next home game for the GVSU women’s club rugby team will be Saturday, Oct. 1 against Calvin College.