The chill of Fall was in the air as the Lions hosted Morris at Randall’s Island on November 12th, 2016. The first of two divisional contests (the second to be played in March, 2017), it was also the first meeting between the two teams in the revised DI-DII playoff structure. The hallmarks of the game were lopsided halves and a high penalty count for both sides, interspersed with strong individual efforts from players on both teams. The Lions opened the scoring early, with 8-man Sierra Cutler running in a ball from close range, flyhalf Margo Smith converted the try. Morris countered in the 12th minute, with a strong individual effort from the flyhalf—a kick ahead from the Leonas 40-meter line which she collected in traffic and dotted down, no conversion. The remainder of the first half was punctuated by penalties called on both teams, which prevented either from stringing together many phases. In the 33rd minute, a Lions sortie into Morris’ half saw a storming run from prop Emily Kunsman and a try, no conversion. Another stellar unforgiving run by the prop saw the Lions score again just before the half, with Smith converting. Half-time score, 19-5, Leonas lead.
In the second half, unforced errors and a continued high penalty count led to frequent changes in possession, and Morris proved themselves better able to adapt and capitalize on the resultant opportunities. The Lions opened the scoring with wing Amanda Manu skirting around the outside and displaying her pace before dotting down in the corner, no conversion. Morris answered back in due course, with the prop emphatically running through the tackle attempts and scoring near the posts, the try was converted. Another try for Morris closely followed—with #17 reading the broken Lions defensive line and skating through from 30 meters out. The Lions then subbed in some fresh legs, but the new players did not adjust to the run of play right away. A string of penalties in the Lions half of the field saw Morris take the momentum, and 8-man Sierra was given a yellow card and sent off. Morris used the man advantage and territory from the penalties effectively, creating space for a score by the outside center, which was converted by the fullback to tie the game at 24 points each. The final minutes saw the Leonas scramble to re-take the lead, and the last play of the game was a series of offloads into Morris’ half, but following an obstruction the referee called full-time and the game ended in a tie.
Final Score: Leonas 24 – Morris 24
Lions XV: 1 Stephanie Diu (Warren 61’) 2 Alli Baer (Ray 61’) 3 Emily Kunsman 4 Desiree Voudonon (Berridge 72’) 5 Theresa Cassano 6 Erin McGee 7 Tara (Fraggle) Harten (O’Brien 40’) 8 Sierra Cutler 9 Emmarie Etheridge 10 Margo Smith (McCalla 61’) 11 Erika Kocher 12 Vicky Dushku 13 Megan (Canada) Banford 14 Amanda Manu 15 Hailey Billitier
16 Jessica “Cookie” Burke 17 Ari Ray 18 Sari Warren 19 Liz Berridge 20 Sam O’Brien 21 Ela Van 22 Chantal McCalla 23 Stephanie “Colby” Ruys de Perez
Try Scorers: Cutler, Kunsman (2), Manu
Conversions: Smith (2)
Woman of the Match: Erika Kocher
Silent Force: Erin McGee