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Women’s Rugby: Season ends with championship loss

Matt DeFranks | Monday, May 2, 2011

Maybe the glass slipper does not fit.

In its inaugural season as a club sport, Notre Dame fell short of a title, losing to Radcliffe 22-10 in the championship game Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, Penn.

“We had an amazing season,” sophomore Veronica Ryan said. “This being our first season, most of the girls hadn’t touched a rugby ball. It’s amazing that we could perform at such a high level.”

In the loss, sophomore Ashley Okonta and senior Kayla Bishop scored tries for the Irish.

“They were just a more experienced team and had been competing at that level for a while,” Ryan said. “We gave it our all, we played a great game, but we’re still really inexperienced.”

Radcliffe entered the game 8-1, including a 32-14 win in the semifinals over overall No. 1 seed Western Washington. In the national tournament, Radcliffe knocked out the Midwest No. 1 seed Wisconsin-La Crosse, the Northeast No. 1 seed Norwich and the Pacific No. 1 seed Western Washington.

Radcliffe’s defense was impressive as well, yielding an average of just seven points per game since the beginning of the tournament. Notre Dame’s defense in its semifinals win was just as stellar, allowing a mere 10 points to Stonehill in a 22-10 triumph.

“We played really good defense,” Ryan said. “We weren’t allowing them to come through the middle.”

Okonta scored three times in the win, while senior Kathleen Stanley chipped in a try of her own.

“I think we have a very good chance of doing this again, maybe even farther,” Ryan said. “We just need to start strong in the fall.”

Notre Dame finishes its first spring season 6-2, including a 112-0 win over Ball State earlier this year. The Irish collected three wins in the national tournament, defeating perennial powers Shippensburg and Stonehill in the process.

The Irish will return for their second season in the fall of 2011 as the program looks to secure its first championship.