October 26, 2019
Randall’s Island, NYC
By Liz Berridge
Coming off of a sub-par performance draw v. Morris (17-17) the weekend prior, the Village Lions had a few changes to make, both in attitude and gameplay. The roster v. Union this weekend encompassed a number of adjustments, a handful of players slotting into new positions and a short subs bench.
Jacquie Sinclair, Katie Hopkins, and Sari Warren formed a strong front row and backed by locks Michelle Dimitri and Marian LaForest, the pack was solid and doubtlessly competitive. Captain Alli Baer moved back to Eightman, with stalwart Ela Van at 6 and Zoe Newman returning from injury at 7.
Rachel Elson and Liz Berridge formed a new halfback combination, both of whom had good moments taking the ball to the line, hitting space and keeping Union on the backfoot. Elson earned the ‘Women of the Match’ vote for her unwavering demeanor, execution, and skills under pressure. Chandra Labonte and Precious Cummings, too, started as a new pairing in the midfield; the former stepping through the Union defense by the first few minutes for the opening try, and the latter enjoying the space farther out with some signature slice-n-dice runs, one of which led to the Lions’s second try. Kaitlin Davis provided good communication and coverage at 15, with newcomer Marit van Veen and returning speedster Logan Bays at the wings.
The first half started well with the Lions regaining possession after kicking off. Solid carrying and tight meters made by the pack and fast recycling helped contribute to the opening midfield scores. Union, too, had some good moments with forward picks, and carries and steps by their backs; the Union 13 as one to mention as a threat throughout the game, but whom Cummings contained very well. But strong defense by the Lions, all throughout, kept Union’s phases’ gains to a minimum, and a slew of penalties in the first half kept possession largely with the home side.
A quick penalty call to the Lions near the Union try line unfortunately nulled a pick over the whitewash from a tenacious Hopkins, who banged her nose in the process, got cleaned up, and continued to play — certainly embodying the phrase ‘give blood, play rugby’. A few more penalties against Union at their line gave the Lions the front-foot, and Berridge sniped around at the corner for the Lions’s third try, ending the first half.
The second half started with Labonte shifting to 9 and Berridge out to wing, having sustained a shoulder injury, with Bays bumping in to outside center. About 13 minutes in, after some changes of possession, the forwards carried hard at the corner and Newman pushed over for the try. Returning from a shoulder injury and lasting the full 80 minutes, Newman earned ‘Silent Force’ honors for her performance, with included good competition at the breakdowns and shutting down Eightman picks.
Continued forwards success was marked with steadfast Dimitri crossing over a few minutes after Newman. A reliable maker of hard yards and sucking in multiple defenders, Dimitri’s been having a strong season and earned a well-deserved try.
Not too long after, Bays found space from the midfield to jaunt over for the third second-half try, enjoyed after being contained on the sidelines for the past few weeks.
A handful of penalties against the Lions in the second kept defense up and alert. A few substitutions had Dalitso Nkhoma and Raquel Gutierrez join the game, and later on Rachel Cochran with her Lions debut.
Ela Van put the final nail on the coffin with a some quick footwork to zip around a few defenders and dot down close to the posts, bringing the game to a 37-0 close.
All in all, it was a solid performance from the Lions, individuals and team. Certainly there are a few adjustments to be made and worked on in practice, but a nice result overall and good attitude kept throughout on this fine day.
Thank you to all those who came out to support!
And thank you to Union and referee Juan Cippitelli.
Next up: Home v. Danbury 11/02
Scorers: Labonte (T), Cummings (T), Berridge (T), Newman (T), Dimitri (T), Bays (T), Van (T), Warren (C)
WOM: Rachel Elson
Silent Force: Zoe Newman
Union selected Alli Baer as the Lion’s player with best game, while the Lions chose Union’s #8, Vicky Steele.
Coach: Cobus Gomes
Team management: Mikayla Coxe, Aun O’Brien
1. Sari Warren
2. Katie Hopkins
3. Jacquie Sinclair (Dalitso Nkhoma)
4. Marian LaForest
5. Michelle Dimitri
6. Ela Van
7. Zoe Newman
8. Alli Baer
9. Liz Berridge
10. Rachel Elson
11. Logan Bays
12. Chandra Labonte
13. Precious Cummings
14. Marit Van Veen (Raquel Gutierrez) (Rachel Cochran)
15. Kaitlin Davis
16. Dalitso Nkhoma
17. Raquel Gutierrez
18. Rachel Cochran