Senior scrum-half, Kelly Callahan, reaches for the ball at the 2013 Swarthmore Tournament. (Courtesy of Andrew Reslewic)

Lehigh women’s rugby works to build reputation

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The Lehigh women’s rugby football club is hungry and working to have a greater presence on campus. Its members are dedicated and passionate about rugby, and since the team’s founding in 1995, it has become very competitive in the area.

The women got an early start this year with preseason workouts on Aug. 28. They played their first game at Pennsylvania State University on Sept. 13 and their next at Albright College on Sept. 20. Although they came up short in both matches, both were excellent challenges for the team’s growth and and development.

Despite starting off 0-2, the girls were not going to give up on themselves. The team’s first home game on Sept. 27 was against rival Lafayette College. The Hawks emerged victorious with a score of 17-15. Sophomore Karen Valerio said it was a great win for the team as they look to gain momentum for the rest of the season.

“That was so exciting because not only did we beat our rival, but we got a chance to display the skills we worked on improving during practice,” Valerio said.

After their win over Lafayette, the women had a chance to build upon their success against Muhlenberg College on Oct. 11. In a wet, rainy battle on Schoenersville Field, the girls displayed their talent and tough grit in a 77-0 win.

Sophomore Janelle Jack believes the game was important because it allowed inexperienced players to contribute to a significant win. In terms of the team’s chemistry and structure, the women are still building their strength with the small numbers they have.

“We’ve built much more camaraderie within our team, taking into account that we have a ratio of about 11 inexperienced players to 10 old players,” Jack said. “We lost many great players with the 2014 graduating class. I think many of us are beginning to discover our deep love for the sport and just want to be the best players we can for the overall advancement of the team.”

The women’s rugby football club is currently a Division III team, but the girls plan on moving up to Division II. They believe they have the strength and power as a team to make the switch but said they need to increase the number of players on the team to have a chance.

The team will be taking on the Lehigh Valley women’s rugby team in a scrimmage on Oct. 18. Following the scrimmage, which does not count toward championship play, the team will be competing in the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union tournament in Campbellstown, Ohio, on Oct. 25 and 26.

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