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Harvey Girls Rugby Team Plays First Games

Brianna Casino, Mary Martinez of Bedford Hills, and Claudia Smith of South Salem hit the scrum sled for the first time together before the match. Also pictured, loose forwards, Shelby Moore, Caroline Zide, and Julia DeNigris of Somers. Photo Credit: Contributed
Claudia Smith, back, of South Salem, Ava Gurman of Chappaqua and Julia DeNigris of Somers, front, practice line-outs. Photo Credit: Contributed
Mary Martinez of Bedford Hills warms up her arms for throw-ins. Photo Credit: Contributed

KATONAH, N.Y. -- The Harvey School girls rugby team made history on Saturday, April 19, as it traveled to Ulster County and faced off against the Kingston Mad Dogs and Bennington girls at Esopus Field.

On the first play, Harvey’s Ava Gurman of Chappaqua kicked off to Kingston, which scored in the first minutes of action. As the game progressed, Kingston continued to add points, but after each score, Harvey's defense got better.

Coach Ciara Lehane, a former rugby player, was impressed with her team’s response. “Our girls never once were discouraged, and their rapid improvement was apparent after each score.”

Losing 20-0, Harvey had another major first. With the Lady Cavaliers waiting on the try line in a defensive stance, a knock-on by Kingston led to an uncontested scrum to Harvey. Scrum-half, Jenny Jacobus-Oseroff passed the ball to her backline, where receiver Aila Prieto made a hard run and broke Kingston’s defensive line.

After a full-field sprint, the Kingston chaser could not keep up with Prieto, who calmly grounded the ball between the posts, prompting Harvey spectators, players and coaches to cheer with delight in the turn of events. Gurman acted as kicker and got the conversion, the ball skipping just over the middle of the bar.

Although Harvey played better in the second half, Kingston padded its lead. The second half saw Harvey get better at tackling and rucking and spending more time on offense than the team had in the first half.

While the final score of 40-7 tells one story, Lehane said it does not tell the whole story. “For a team of rookies to score on the former state champions, it was a win; most importantly, the girls fell in love with the game and had their first competitive match,” Lehane said.

Following the 15s match, the Harvey girls combined with the Bennington team in a 7s match. Gurman scored three tries in her second match as Harvey’s players showed outstanding passing, tackling and evasion skills. The Harvey/Bennington team beat Kingston in the 7s, 20-5.

“It was an excellent start to the Harvey girls varsity rugby program,” Lehane said.

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