Greenwich High

Greenwich High girls rugby team captures state championship with a 21-19 victory over Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club

Photo by Antonio Monteiro: Greenwich High School’s girls rugby team and coaches gather with the championship trophy after defeating Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club in the title game of the Connecticut State Tournament held at Ridgefield High School on May, 26, 2022, in Ridgefield. The Cardinals posted a 21-19 come-from-behind win.

Article provided by Antonio Monteiro

After losing its two regular season games against Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club, the third time was, indeed, the charm for Greenwich High School’s girls rugby team.

A late second-half try from Ashley Torres-Brown, coupled by a conversion kick from Isabella Gega propelled Greenwich past Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club, 21-19, in the championship game of the Girls Connecticut State Rugby Tournament held at Ridgefield High School on Thursday night.

“We went into the state final knowing we had to play at our best and leave it all out there to win,” Greenwich coach Erin Martschenko said. “I could tell during warm-ups everyone was ready to do just that. Led by our captains, Nicole Winn and Ashley Brown-Torres, everyone played fearlessly and it paid off.”

Photo by Antonio Monteiro: Greenwich senior rugby captains Nicole Winn (No. 10) and Ashley Torres-Brown (No. 8) hoist the championship trophy presented to them by Joe Kelly after the team won the title at the Connecticut State Tournament.

The comeback victory gave the Cardinals their first state girls rugby championship. This high quality game was a battle between two formidable teams to the end. The first half saw Aspetuck pin Greenwich in its own half, but tenacious defense prevented Aspetuck Valley from scoring.

 The Cardinals took a 7-0 lead in the 16th minute on a counter attack started by junior Laura Smego. Torres-Brown, a senior captain, finished the play with a try and Gega, a junior, made the conversion kick, giving GHS a 7-0 advantage.

Aspetuck rallied, scoring two tries late in the first half to seize a 12-7 halftime advantage.

Photo by Ingrid Winn: Greenwich captains Ashley Torres-Brown, left and Nicole Winn, hold the championship trophy and gather with their coaches after the team defeated Aspetuck Valley Rugby club for the state title.

Greenwich started the second half strong and in the second minute, Torres-Brown tallied her second try, with Gega converting it, putting the Cardinals ahead, 14-12. Soon after, Aspetuck scored a converted try to regain the lead at 19-14.

The Torres-Brown and Gega combination struck again, giving Greenwich the lead for good. Torres-Brown’s third try, coupled by Gega’s kick gave the Cardinals a 21-19 edge with 12 minutes remaining in the second half. As the clock ticked down, Greenwich successfully pinned Aspetuck Valley in their own half, preventing counter attacks.

Photo by Antonio Monteiro: Greenwich’s Ashley Torres-Brown runs down the field with the ball against Aspetuck Valley.

The Cardinals pack dominated the set pieces, in particular flanker senior Ivanka Marusak who won 70 percent of the line outs. The back line defended well, preventing Aspetuck from getting over the game line and turning their advantage into points. 

Martschenko guided the championship squad, along with her assistant coaches, Joe Patrone and Laura Vivolo. The championship win marked the final game in the careers of seniors Torres-Brown (a captain), Nicole Winn (a captain), Fiona Breier, Greer Levy, Ivanka Marusak, Sydney Natale, Gene Nieuwoudt and Julia Palone.

Photo by Antonio Monteiro: Ashley Torres-Brown breaks a tackle for Greenwich in its state title matchup against Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club on May 26, 2022, at Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield.

“As a coach, there is no more perfect moment than to watch my players’ reaction as the final whistle blew – pure joy and euphoria,” Martschenko said. “It was truly a moment that will stay etched in my mind forever.”

Photo by Antonio Monteiro: Greenwich defeated rival Aspetuck Valley Rugby club to claim its first state rugby championship in a matchup held at Ridgefield High School on May 26, 2022.
Photo by Antonio Monteiro: Greenwich’s Nicole Winn (No. 10) and Ashley Torres-Brown combine on a tackle in the state final against Aspetuck Valley Rugby Club at Ridgefield High School on May 26, 2022.

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