The Women’s rugby team took a huge step with its 32-0 victory over the University of Scranton.
Saturday’s match saw the team overcome the final hurdle on its way to becoming a member of Division II.
Senior eightman Kaitlyn Daniels picked up the first points for the Lions with a try and a conversion kick.
“Kait is an amazing kicker,” junior outside center Victoria Welsh said. “She plays intensely and always gives 100 percent.”
Junior lock Val Vaccaro scored two tries in the first half to bring the halftime score to 17-0.
In the second half, junior prop and captain Vanessa Polizzi recorded a try.
Junior hooker Michelle DiFedele and junior scrumhalf Nicole Klindt scored the final points of the game.
The Lions have now moved from Division III to Division II in the Eastern Pennsylvanian Rugby Union (EPRU). Since the NCAA does not recognize rugby as a varsity sport, it is not bound by the same rules that the NCAA enforces.
Players are allowed to compete at a Division I, II or III level.
For a new team, level of play is determined by the other sports at the College. Once it has established itself, a team can challenge any team in a higher division to a game.
“We beat all the DIII schools in our division, so we got to play the lowest-ranked DII school,” Welsh said.
If the lower division team wins, it moves up a division, while the losing team moves down.
Later in the season, the Lions will get a chance to play another team, yet to be determined, which also boasts an undefeated record. The winner will be the division champion.
The Lions are looking forward to more competitive play.
“When we played other DIII teams, we mostly shut them out,” DiFedele said.
“We hope to learn a lot of new things and become a stronger team,” Welsh added.
The Lions owe their success to motivated, athletic members. “All of our players, even the B-side, have been playing for a while,” DiFedele said. “Most of the girls came from some sort of high school sport, but no one had ever played rugby.”
DiFedele also credited intense competition between players for pushing them to succeed. The team is 35 strong, including 25 juniors, and all are vying for the 15 spots on the A-side. B-side is the equivalent to junior varsity in a varsity sport. Even players on the B-side hold their own against the competition.
“We can put out B-side in the second half and still win,” DiFidele said.
The team has set its goals high.
“Our big goal is to make it to the playoffs,” DiFidele said. This year the first championships for Division III are being held in Bethlehem, Pa.
The Lions are next in action at a tournament at West Chester University. Both Division II and Division III teams will compete.
“We’re looking to place,” DiFidele said.