The women’s rugby team was looking to continue their successful season in their divisional playoff game, but came up short, losing to Colorado School of Mines 71-27. The two teams faced off earlier in the year, with the match ending in a 28-28 tie.
The Mavericks had the Mines’ number in their past matches, with Colorado Mesa University defeating them in the playoffs and regular season last year. Saturday was different, and it ended a successful run for the team.
After losing a key player to a possibly severe knee injury in non-contact practice a couple days before the game, the Mavericks had a tough time overcoming the loss of their fullback. Many players had to play different positions they are not used to playing, leading to severe reshuffling from every player. Mines took advantage of the reshuffling and scored consistently and ferociously.
Mines came out with intensity and made it clear they were ready to play. They ran hard, rucked hard and communicated throughout the whole match. The Mavericks had a tough time matching the intensity. They couldn’t find the quality play they’ve played with all season long.
Head coach Mackenzie Lewis had to move her players from attacker to goalie and forward to fullback. Those kinds of switches late in the season can make for tough in-game adjustments.
“Mines just wanted it,” Lewis said. “They ran harder, they tackled harder, they rucked harder and we were just kind of playing catch up the whole game.”
The team has been successful under Lewis the past few seasons. Lewis has installed a winning culture around the women’s team. But on Saturday, the team came out flat and seemed to lose their identity. Big injuries tend to hurt teams in any sport, but in rugby, an injury to a key player hurts the team much more. Each player finds an identity in their position, and they do their best to execute it every match. Playing out of position and only a few days to familiarize with the position makes adjustments much tougher.
“We had an unfortunate practice on Thursday,” Lewis said. “The rest is history. Mines showed up on Saturday and we did not.”
The team came out strong all year long. Divisional playoffs are tough matches where teams must be playing to their best ability. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Saturday was a day where they struggled to get any momentum going, and played from behind all match.
Lewis knows her team has the talent to come back stronger. Based on Lewis’ track record, people can count on the Mavericks coming back ready to improve on their season.