Dominating possession, behind its talented forwards and receiving excellent play from its back line players, Greenwich High School’s girls rugby team left little doubt which direction Tuesday’s game against visiting Southington was heading.
Efficiently working their plays, the Cardinals reached the try zone frequently in the first half and earned a win that qualified them for the state tournament.
Senior forward/captain Ashley Torres-Brown scored four tries, while junior Isabella Gega reached the try zone twice to power Greenwich to a decisive 48-7 victory over Southington at Cardinal Stadium.
The win raised the Cardinals’ record to 3-1 overall and earned them a spot in the championship game of the state tournament, which is scheduled for May 26.
“This was our game to make it to states and our coaches were like, ‘it’s obviously, not all about winning, but if we do our best and we work as a unit, we’ll get there,’ and we used all the tools in our took kit and we made it happen,” said Brown, who will continue her rugby career at Quinnipiac University next season. “I’m most proud of everybody working together, we were all hungry for this win.”
Gega opened the scoring for the Cardinals by making her way into the try zone in the second minute. She then made the conversion kick, giving the home team a 7-0 lead. In the 22nd minute, junior Nathalie Rojas scored a try and Gega again made the kick, putting Greenwich ahead, 14-0.
“It was just a great game,” Gega said. “It was good to see everyone work together and everything come together from practice and putting it on the field.”
Torres-Brown scored another try at the 37:50 mark of the opening half, then added another one in the final minute of the first half, putting the Cards on top, 26-7 at halftime. Southington’s try occurred with five minutes remaining in the first half.
“We were making some trys, scoring some points,” Gega said. “One of them was pretty much the wings were left open and I ran through and scored.”
In the second half, senior Nicole Winn broke loose for a try, extending the Cardinals’ comfortable advantage.
“I’m very proud, we’ve definitely improved from our first game and we’ve incorporated new plays that I haven’t even done in past seasons,” said Winn, one of the Cardinals’ captains. “They have managed it really well.”
Winn has enjoyed her role as one of the team’s leaders and is making the absolute most of her last season on the squad.
“I’ve been playing all four years, so this was my final season and I’ve been looking to get out there enjoy it, lead the team well and show them that rugby is a game of respect with a lot of aggressiveness and that it’s an empowering sport,” she said.
Gega added her second try in the second half for the Cardinals, who will play rival Aspetuck Valley on May 12, then play host to Simsbury on May 21.
“I feel amazing about our season,” junior scrumhalf Greer Levy said. “The girls have worked hard at practice to get things done and we really bring it on the field every single game. I’m most proud of our communication. It was something we worked on in practice and we needed to get better at it from our last games and it made us score a few tries.”
Said Rojas, a three-season member of the team: “They (Southington) are a really strong team, they put a lot of pressure on us. But we had great communication. Through communication, we can score a bunch of tries, so we need to work as a team in order to score and do well in games.”
Indeed, Greenwich is rounding into top form at the right time of the season.
“We have a game on May 12 against Aspetuck and we’re ready for our comeback and then our next game will be against Simsbury and then states – we’re ready for it,” Torres-Brown said.