Above: Emily Kunsman and Amanda Sesny tend to some bumps and bruises during the Leonas’ match against Philly. (Photo: Shameena Khan)

Saturday, May 2: Village Lions 12, Philadelphia 46

It is always a hard game when you are spending most of the time defending. Quite frankly, tackling all of the time takes it out of you and can be demoralizing, especially when you have some real lumps moving at full pace toward you. Looking at the final score, you may think that this was the story of the day, but in reality, it was a very good performance from the Leonas.

On the negative side, the scrum was under severe pressure, and Philly stole a lot of ball; the lineout did not function properly until the second half. This was the basic problem that led to the day of tackling. On the positive side, the effort from 1 to 15 on this front was quite admirable, with no heads dropping and every player on the pitch stepping up. Leading the charge with stellar performances were Tricia Stanley and Desiree Vodounon, with tackle counts through the roof. But when Philly did manage to break though the first line of defense, they were in control, very dangerous, and managed to rack up the points.

Victoria Dushku scored the only try in the first half for the Leonas, with a nice interception when Philly tried to run the ball out of their 22. The physicality of the game was taking a bit of a toll, with a few knocks and some blood left out on the pitch. Both props required some attention, and thanks here goes go to Philly’s med staff on the sidelines. Amanda Sesny needed both sub at the half and around 30 stitches for a head wound when she got back to the city. (Note to Sesny’s parents: She played great.)

The commitment in the second half was the same, if not higher — even though Philly got the first points of the half, the Leonas came back. Stanley won a lineout, and an excellent box kick from scrumhalf Megan O’Neill was regathered following sloppy play. The forwards began hitting the ball at pace and getting over the gain line, which resulted in a great try by Emily Kunsman in the 54th minute, followed by a Margo Smith conversion. An improvement in the possession stats would increase the number of these opportunities in future games against strong teams like Philly.

The final score of was 46-12, but the team walked off the field with their heads held high, knowing that the game ended with well-executed rugby and great communication from all Leonas.

They now have a round robin tournament on May 9 against Nova and NYRC on Randall’s Island for VLRFC’s spring Friends & Family Day.

Tries: Victoria Dushku, Emily Kunsman
Conversion: Margo Smith

First XV: Emily Kunsman, Allison Baer, Amanda Sesny, Quin Works , Desiree Vodounon, Katie Morris, Tricia Stanley, Meg Collins, Megan O’Neill, Aislinn Smith (c), Victoria Dushku, Margo Smith, Erika Kocher, Jo Hayes, Megan Banford

Reserves: Lindsay Thompson (40 min. for Sesny), Rosie Rough (40 min. for Kocher)

Woman of the Match: Desiree Vodounon