Michigan’s rugby team may be an up-and-coming program with half as many players as the Penn State Lady Ruggers, but through the first half of Saturday’s match it was hard to tell which team was the two-time defending national champions.
Michigan took a one try lead into the half, but as quickly as its dreams of an upset fermented, they were crushed as the Lady Ruggers opened the second half with three straight trys, and coasted to a 46-17 victory.
“I think we expected to be at the level we were in the spring,” junior captain Sadie Anderson said. “We thought we would just run over people, and when that was not working I think we got kind of frantic.”
The Lady Ruggers’ slow start could be attributed to head coach Pete Steinberg’s game plan to mix “B” side players with “A” side players throughout the entire game. Steinberg is trying to use the fall season to incorporate the more inexperienced players with his starters so they will be ready for anything during the spring season.
“It’s really good for the younger players to play with the “A” side,” Anderson said. “It’s definitely a different level of play, but it’s still fun.”
Steinberg does not mind playing in a close match — he feels it is good for the team to experience a little adversity. He said he learned a few things about his team in its first game.
“I feel that we are a team that can play very fast,” Steinberg said. “But we have to be fitter if we want to play at this level for an entire game.”
Although Steinberg was happy with his team’s performance, he was quick to give credit to Michigan.
“I thought they did a really good job of stopping our continuity and slowing down the ball,” Steinberg said. “When you play a team as big as Michigan you have to work hard on getting good body position and support toward the ball.”
Steinberg credited junior Caitlin Singletary as the player of the match, and said she was the sparkplug that got the team moving in the right direction.
“I watched the first half, and thought the forwards weren’t working as hard as they could and it motivated me,” Singletary said.
Steinberg said Singletary created a lot of “go forward” movement, which allowed the team to win some quick balls and play faster.
Michigan head coach Herb Reich was happy for the opportunity to come and play against Penn State.
“We were able to build some confidence from this game,” Reich said. “It was nice to be able to come here and see that this team isn’t a bunch of freaks and that they are normal girls like us. We can build on this game and maybe go on to win the Midwest.