NORTHFIELD, Vt. - The Norwich University women's rugby team opened up the 2018 season with a hard-fought 41-26 loss to three-time defending National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) 15s national champion Quinnipiac University on Saturday morning.
Norwich battled Quinnipiac for the full 80 minutes in its closest result with the Bobcats in four years. Sophomore Amber Kelly (Colorado Springs, Colo.) scored a bruising try from five yards out through a multitude of Quinnipiac defenders as time expired in the first half to tie the game up at 19-19.
Junior Caitlin Heale (Christchurch, New Zealand) led the Cadets' offense with two tries on the day. Junior Annaleigh Runion (Greenville, S.C.) also added a try for Norwich on the day. Sheila Decker (Saranac Lake, N.Y.) finished 3-for-4 on conversions.
Quinnipiac opened the scoring in the second minute with Margot Vella breaking loose on the right sideline for a long 50+ yard try run to give the Bobcats an early 7-0 lead.
Norwich answered back in the 14th minute with Heale scoring on a try with a successful conversion from Decker to knot the game up at 7-7.
In the 25th minute, Remy Spires scored a try for Quinnipiac to give the Bobcats a 12-7 lead. Norwich answered back though with Heale's first try of the game in the 34th minute to take its first lead following a successful conversion from Decker to give the Cadets a 14-12 lead.
Quinnipiac regained the lead in the 38th minute with Mikah Maples scoring on a long try run and a successful conversion from McKenna Haz to give Quinnipiac a 19-14 lead. Kelly then scored on the last play of the first half to knot the score at 19-19.
Quinnipiac dominated the second half, scoring 22 points to only seven from Norwich with another Heale try and conversion from Decker to cap the scoring.
Norwich will look for its first win of 2018 when it hosts American International College at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 on the NU Dog River Rugby Pitch.