NORTHFIELD, Vt. – A veteran team has Norwich University head women's rugby coach Austin Hall thinking big things.
Senior captain and former U-20 national team player Katie Hathaway (Amesbury, Mass.) leads a team that is still fired up from their national quarterfinal loss last spring, according to Hall. Hathaway, who may be called on to play a variety of positions, is among a group of 10 returning seniors in what eighth-year head coach Austin Hall labels his "most experienced class" ever. Joining Hathaway in that group is All-American flanker Hannah Bushey (Essex Junction, Vt.). She is the all-time leading try scoring forward at Norwich and hopes to continue her strong play this season.
"We really couldn't ask for a better senior class," said Hall. "They bring so much in terms of leadership, experience, talent, work rate, and dedication to our program. I can see all of them having impact seasons."
Running in support of the senior class, the juniors and sophomores entering the 2011 campaign bring their own blend of on-and-off-field success, according to Hall. Junior #8 Corinne McElroy (Canaan, N.H.), who was the 2010 Northeast Championship MVP, brings her field presence to the forward pack. McElroy is often nicknamed "Everywhere," because she just seems to be everywhere on the field, according to Hall. Junior flyhalf Emily Baugus (Kingsville, Texas), returning team Most Valuable Player, will run the high-octane Norwich backfield. The sophomore duo of center/fullback Rose Bernheim (Andrews AFB, Maryland), who led the league in try scoring in 2010, and wing Joya Clark (Scotia, N.Y.) will provide much of the speed Baugus and the Cadets will utilize in their backfield attack.
In looking at the newcomers, Hall pointed to Emily Oor (Uxbridge, Ontario) as being "able to add additional depth and poise to the program."
"I'm excited about the great group of students we have in the program this year," added Hall. "We know that it takes at least 30 players to be successful at this level and each and every member of our roster will be pushed to their potential this fall. As a team that has been knocked out of nationals two years in a row now and wanting to take the next step, it's critical that we bring our best to each practice and each game and strive to improve throughout the season."
Norwich is scheduled to open the season August 27 with a scrimmage against the Burlington Women's Rugby Club at the Dog River Pitch. The squad comes back September 3-4 for its annual trip to the Montreal Irish tournament and then welcomes Dartmouth College to Northfield on September 10.