Women’s rugby pushes forward after playoff win

Kyle Samec

The Kent State women’s rugby club team was victorious in the playoffs for the first time — under coach Jeff Horton — and won the Mid-American Conference for a third consecutive year.

With this accomplishment under the team’s belt, Horton knows no matter what happens on Saturday, this season proved something.

“I think we have done a great job this season of proving to ourselves as a team that we can compete with some of the top talent in America,” Horton said. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished thus far and we have made our presence known at Kent State, one of our biggest goals coming into this season.”

The story of the Flashes’ MAC domination ended on a high note by winning a playoff game in their final fall season in the conference. The team will be in the Mason-Dixon Conference come next fall.

On the other hand, the University of Connecticut Huskies are a powerhouse. They finished perfect on the year and received a bye week for the first round of the playoffs last week. The Huskies are ranked by Goff Rugby Report as the No. 13 team in Division I, and they won the Beasts of the East Tournament earlier this year, finishing 9-0 during that season.

Even with all of UConn’s accolades, Horton said the Flashes can win if they focus on their game and execute it well.

“We have preached the importance of being able to focus all year and it’s safe to say that the team is extremely focused on the task at hand,” Horton said. “We know that UConn has a quality program, but we are confident in our ability to contain its offensive attack with the discipline we possess on defense.”

The Flashes are now even more confident in their abilities and have never been more excited to play a game, said junior Hannah Henry.

“I can guarantee every single player on the team is still on cloud nine after Sunday’s match,” Henry said.

While the team’s spirits are high after their playoff win, just like the coach, the players are focused on UConn and strive to keep their mental edge, according to Henry.

“We’ve been known to play a very mental game against ourselves in some of our regular season games,” Henry said. “So we’re trying not to lose that mental battle by staying focused on the ultimate goal: Playing through the weekend and advancing to the final.”

If the Flashes win this Saturday, they’ll play in the Final Four on Sunday.

Kyle Samec is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].