Women’s club rugby runs past

Patrick Koster, Reporter

It was late in the second half. Fredonia had possession of the ball, pressing forward into Bengals territory with each ruck. The Bengals fought hard to keep Fredonia out of the in-goal area until play finally stopped.

Fredonia scored what would be their first and only try of the afternoon as the Bengals cruised to a 43-point win.

With their playoff chances still in question, the Buffalo State women’s club rugby team came one step closer to clinching a spot with a 48-5 win over Fredonia on Saturday.

In what became a predominantly offensive game for the Bengals, they scored a majority of their points in the first half, racking up 31 of the 48 before the start of the second half.

Coach Jenn Jenkinson said that Fredonia’s players are usually aggressive and hard to stop.

“I think we played great,” Jenkinson said. “They only scored one try against us, which is, I think, a testament to our good defense.”

Senior flanker Gena Okai scored the first try of the game for Buffalo State.

“We’ve been playing Fredonia for a bit,” Okai said, “they’re a very tough team to play, but we went into this game with the mindset of we want to make playoffs. This whole [week of] practice we’ve been just working on high-powered defense; making sure they don’t get the ball, even if they do, they’re not going to score any tries; not on our field.”

Emmy Wolfe made three conversion kicks, with two kicks coming in the first half and one in the second. Along with Molly Gorski, senior captain Mary Sica scored two tries, both of Sica’s coming towards the end of the game.

“We were predominantly on their side of the field, which was nice,” Sica said. “We didn’t have to play defense much.”

Preparing for Fredonia, the team made a few changes in practice. Offensively, they practiced a drill that they called “pick-and-go,” where two forwards run to the outside with the ball, followed by the backs. Practice paid off, as the Bengals proved to be very successful at moving the ball with the new strategy.

“It’s what this game was all about today. We did a lot of pick-and-go’s,” Okai said. “For the forwards at least, it was very effective because we were able to drive them from one side of the field to another, and they were not getting any chance to score any kind of tries.”

Prior to Fredonia, the Bengals traveled east to face Division I Syracuse. In a game that Sica considered to be the best she’s seen her team play, Buffalo State fell short, losing by just one point to a tougher, bigger Syracuse team.

Jenkinson said that the Syracuse game was a great stepping stone for her team. She didn’t think the score mattered because of how well her team played.

This week, the women’s team faces another Division I opponent, University at Buffalo. Sica is confident that her team will play well.

“I think that we definitely have good chance of winning if we play like we did [against Fredonia] and like we did last weekend,” Sica said.

Jenkinson said that the team has had a good rhythm in past weeks and that communication between players has improved tremendously over the course of the season.

“Like my coach was saying,” Okai said, “especially with the vets, we don’t even have to literally communicate physically, like talking anymore. We can look at each other and we know where we have to be, we know who we have to support, we know what we have to do.

“So, that mindset has been very clear on what we want to accomplish, and I think if we take the same mentality to the playoffs, I think we will do really well.”

Okai said that this is probably her last year of playing rugby for the Bengals, and she’s trying to enjoy it as much possible.

“This season has been incredible,” Okai said. “Our team cohesion has been impeccable. We’ve been together in every step. This is the best rugby season yet, and I would never want to trade this team out for anything. Like, if I could play 10 more years of rugby with them, that’s what I’d do.”

The men’s club rugby team also won its game this week. On Saturday, the team traveled to Hobart, where they won, 41-26. A week before that, the team faced Geneseo and won, 50-20. Coach Rob Jenkinson said that the Geneseo game was good and that the team was playing how they should at this point in the season.

The men’s team has a bye this week, but will play against Niagara the following week.

The women’s game against UB is scheduled for this Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be held at UB’s North Campus on the field off of Frontier Rd., across from the Ellicott Complex.

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