No. 1 Quinnipiac opens season with win over No. 3 Army

Photo Courtesy: Quinnipiac Athletics

By: Kyle Levasseur

The beginning of a new season sparked excitement in the air at the new Quinnipiac Rugby Field on Friday afternoon.

It was an offseason full of change for the two-time defending national champions, as the No. 1 Bobcats now have their own regulation size field, a new locker room, and eight freshmen on their 22 player roster.

Yet one thing that has yet to change is Quinnipiac’s winning ways, as it defeated No. 3 Army 42-22 in its first game of the season.

Head Coach, Becky Carlson, enters her seventh season leading the Bobcats. After a season of playing all games on the road a year ago, Carlson and her Bobcats now call home the field that formerly belonged to Quinnipiac soccer.

“It was a little bit surreal when I was listening to the national anthem,” Carlson said. “For the last seven years we’ve had a shortage on the side of 15 yards, and you think about how much of a difference that makes of you getting pushed out of bounds compared to having 15 more yards to be able to run. It’s phenomenal. It’s kind of like they’re wild animals that have finally been let out of their cage and they’re able to take the sideline.”

Senior fly half Flora Poole shared her coach’s excitement for the new field.

“We’ve got width! We’ve got width! We can go wide, we can use our wings,” Poole said with a smile. “It makes our gameplay just that much wider and bolder. We have so many more options on a regulation size field.”

After losing All-Americans Maggie Myles, Hailey Wyatt and Mason Johnson, a plethora of freshmen have been called in as reinforcements for Carlson’s squad.

Not only are the freshman new to college, but also a majority of them are playing new positions.

“Every single freshmen that came in, with the exception of Jordan Cowan, is in a position they never played before,” Carlson says. “So that’s something that we’re working on, but they’re so versatile that they can play multiple positions, and we haven’t seen a versatility in the roster, I think ever since I’ve been here, like the one that we have now.”

While many programs suffer growing pains when having over a third of the team as freshman, Carlson views it differently.

“We actually have a system called the ‘classless’ system because we don’t actually believe in upperclassmen or underclassmen,” Carlson says. There is no hierarchy because we tend to, especially as women, we tend to mistake experience for respect, and it’s not so much about how long you’ve been here, it’s what you contribute, and how much you give back, and how you help your teammates.”

It was the veterans that led the way on Friday with seniors Ilona Maher, Rebecca Haight, and graduate student Tayler Schussler all scoring tries.

Maher, the reigning MA Sorensen National Player of the year given to the best women’s rugby player in the nation, finished with three tries on the day.

Sophomore Mikah Maples had a career day, also finishing with three tries. In her freshman campaign, Maples scored a total of three tries in 10 games. She matched that total in just the first half of Friday’s match.

“Originally (Maples) was a basketball player. She had never played rugby before.” Carlson said. “So on the rugby end, she’s still learning and feeling her way around the field and seeing where she can contribute. But there’s absolutely no question that her athleticism comes in handy when she’s getting the ball popped off of her hip, or she’s working with somebody like Ilona or Flora. She’s got a lot to learn but she’s an absolutely fantastic learner and we expect big things from her now that she’s got a year under her belt.”

Quinnipiac will travel to Hanover, New Hampshire next Saturday to take on Dartmouth.

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