For the third straight year, the Norwich Cadets battled the Stonehill College Skyhawks for the New England Rugby Football Union Championship. Having split the previous championship games, the Cadets were fired up to claim the 2010 title.
Heavy winds told the story of the first half. Playing into the wind against a tough Stonehill side, Norwich spent much of the half pinned on their own goal-line. Twenty-three minutes into the half, sophomore flyhalf Emily Baugus received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. With Baugus in the sin-bin for ten minutes and a relentless wind, the Cadets dug deep to prevent any scores. The first half ended with a 0-0 tie.
It took just four minutes, with the second-half wind at their back, for the Cadets to breach the Skyhawk try-line. Junior flanker Hannah Bushey powered in for the initial try. Baugus converted and the Cadets led 7-0.
At the 12th minute, the Cadets crashed in for their second try, as junior prop Caroline Bell touched down in the corner.
The 12-0 lead did not last long as the Stonehill backs returned the ensuing kick-off for a try closing the gap to 12-7.
The close, intense match lasted for another nine minutes until Norwich team captain and senior hooker Anita Moreno touched down to make it a two-score lead. Moreno, who started at hooker as a freshman, returned to her No. 2 jersey for the first time in years. Norwich now led 17-7.
The emotional try of the match occurred at the 30th minute. Sophomore prop Rachel Williams crashed in for the first try of her career. What made this exciting was that Williams had just touched down only a minute earlier, but the ball was ruled "knocked-on" in goal. The initial excitement of the crowd was crushed by the referee's change of call. Though Williams went right back to work and ran the same crash, this time for a definitive score.
In injury time, freshman center Rose Bernheim raced 60 meters, tip-toeing down the sideline, to end the match with a try 27-7.
"We have a good, healthy rivalry with Stonehll and today's match was another one for the history books," said NU head coach Austin Hall.
Norwich will face SUNY-New Paltz in the Northeast Quarterfinals on Saturday, Nov. 6. Time to be determined this week.