The Mines Women’s Rugby Team had an incredible fall 2019 season. Coming off an undefeated regular season into two exhilarating championship rounds in Columbia, Missouri and Charlotte, North Carolina they were prepared to face whatever was thrown at them. Facing off against Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the sweet 16, Mines won 22-10 and advanced to the Elite 8. The University of Cincinnati wasn’t much competition for powerhouse Mines and Mines shut them out 29-0 advancing to the semifinal in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In preparation for the national semifinal against reigning champions Vassar College, Mines practiced hard and consistently through review week and headed to Charlotte to vie for the National Title. Sophomore Captain Morgan Walls acknowledged that Mines was regarded as a bit of an underdog in the final four tournament. “No one expected much of a showing from us, but we knew we deserved to be there.”
In a nail biter against Vassar, #8 Senior Evie Oglesby scored the match’s first try, setting the tone for the rest of the match. Though Vassar scored a try immediately after Oglesby’s try, Mines held their own and Oglesby offloaded the ball to #9 Sophomore Morgan Walls for their second try. #2 Senior Raquel Lucero was quick to land another try in the first half of the game. The second half was intense with two more tries by Walls and Oglesby, with Oglesby scoring the final try of the match in the last minute. Mines triumphed 29-15 and headed to the National Final!
Winona State beat out Coast Guard Academy for the other spot in the final, facing Mines on December 8, 2019. Mines has faced Winona before, in the 2018 sweet 16 championship round. Having some semblance of an idea about what to expect in the Winona game and riding high on the win in the semifinal, Mines was pumped to play in the final. Walls was clear that they knew if they beat Vassar, they would most likely be facing Winona in the final. “I think we were pretty successful in maintaining our focus on having high intensity and on our defense,” said Walls. “Our defense is something we pride ourselves on and it’s what allowed us to beat Vassar. Vassar’s coach actually came up to us after we won and told us that we deserved to win the match.
“The hardest part about the Winona game was the quick turnaround after beating Vassar and to think ‘ok now tomorrow we have to beat Winona, and we know they’re a great team’.” The game was off to a little bit of a rough start with a quick try by Winona. Mines steadily gained a solid field position allowing #3 Sophomore Erin Visak to plow through the defense and score Mines’ first try of the match. Winona and Mines were evenly matched for the better part of the first half but then Winona broke through and scored twice more. Number fifteen freshman Michaela Adams scored the final try of the game in a valiant last-ditch effort to even up the score.
Unfortunately, the final score of the final was 19-10 with Winona for the win. Walls recognizes that the reason that Winona is such a successful team is that they can capitalize on every mistake their opponents make. Even with such a strong Mines defense, a super experienced team like Winona recognizes where the holes in the line are and can snake through and score a try.
Though somewhat disappointed that Mines didn’t win the national title, the team is determined to work even harder next season and end up back in the championship game! Each game is a learning experience and Walls is hoping to learn from Winona’s triumphs and become the team that capitalizes on the other team’s mistakes while still playing the same great game of rugby that they’ve always played. Mines is a team that plays with more heart than any other team and their ability to play for each other on the field is the key to their strength.
The team is extremely proud of how well they did, earning the silver medal in such a competitive game is no small feat and something to be admired. Big Congratulations to the entire Mines Women’s Rugby Team, and special thanks to Coach Roder and Coach AP for all their dedication and passion for this team and game.