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Women finish first, men place third in Memorial Tournament

Staff Writer

Published: Monday, April 2, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02

Women's rugby

Tyler McDermott

This past Saturday, UNH hosted the Scott Milley Memorial 7’s Tournament. UNH performed well, with the men’s team making it to the semifinals and the women’s team winning its bracket. There was also a club bracket, which featured a final between UNH’s two alumni club teams. 

The tournament started bright and early at 8 p.m. The first round was known as the pool rounds. The teams were divided into different brackets of men’s, women’s and club teams. The teams competed in  either three or four matches, the outcome of which determined their seeding in the championship round. 

Both the men’s and women’s UNH teams secured the No. 2 seed in their respective brackets. The men’s team went undefeated in the pool round and therefore earned a first round bye in their bracket. They ended up playing American International College in the semifinals but lost, 19-7. 

“We did pretty well,” UNH men’s head coach John Godsman said. “We achieved about where we wanted.”

The UNH men’s team took third place in the tournament by defeating Dartmouth’s B-side in the loser’s bracket. 

Faring better was the UNH women’s team. The Wildcats ended up going 2-1 in pool play, despite not being a seven’s team. 

“We didn’t start off too well because we’re a 15’s team not a 7’s team,” UNH women’s head coach Nikki Zoufaly said. “We learned a lot about staying in our heads, how to play sevens, popping out balls faster.”

“We as a team have only played one 7’s tournament before,” team captain Britni Rowe said. “Most of our team hasn’t played seven’s before.”

The team’s first match in the championship was against ColbySawyer. Colby-Sawyer put little resistance up and UNH annihilated the team, 46-0. That set up UNH in for finals match against Bridgewater. 

Ironically, UNH had faced Bridgewater in pool play earlier in the day and lost to them. 

“We’re now the No. 2 seed, so we would most likely be playing Bridgewater [the No. 1 seed] in the final so there would be that redemption factor which would be very exciting,” predicated Zoufaly earlier in the day. 

The finals match kicked off at 3:30 p.m. and featured a defensive game with plenty of hard hitting. The match went back and forth, and both defenses were stifling, not allowing either side to score. The score was tied after regulation and headed into sudden-death overtime. 

It was more back and forth during overtime, but UNH was able to finally score and win 10-5. 

“We started off last season with no wins in a year, at least,” Zoufaly said. “We had five points. We were shut out every match. We went from being shut out to bringing in heart and playing as a team, playing as a family. Learning the game, and learning [about] each other. We just took this tournament, and we’ll take it all the way next season.”

Rounding out the tournament was the club bracket that fielded an exciting final between the Showponies and the Love Guns, two UNH alumni teams. 

“In rugby we form this bond, and we’re all pretty good friend,” ShowPonies team captain Dana Etherington said. “When we graduated we had this hole because we didn’t have rugby and we missed it. We decided to start playing in tournaments. We all get together and play three or four times a year, hang out, have fun and we all get to see each other.” 

Both the Showponies and the Love Guns are made up of former UNH rugby players. The Showponies are alums from the 2008 and 2009 years, while the Love Guns are more recent alums from the 2010 and 2011 years.

“We’ve got the Love Guns on the other side, another alumni team that came after us who basically copied us,” Etherington said tongue in cheek. “They’re good guys but I think we’ll win.” 

The Love Guns went on to beat the Showponies, 33-14. 

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