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HANOVER, N.H. – With two Ivy titles under its belt, the Dartmouth women’s rugby team is looking to start its third varsity season on a high note. The Big Green will open their 2017 campaign this weekend, taking on two-time defending national champion, Quinnipiac, at 12 p.m. at Brophy Field.

This season’s schedule is a mix of four home games and just one regular season tilt away from Hanover before the Ivy Championship at Princeton in late October. Last weekend, Dartmouth scrimmaged Penn State on the road, defeating the Nittany Lions, 46-17. After taking on the Bobcats, the Big Green will host Army West Point and Princeton before heading to Harvard for their lone road game a few days later. 

Following the end of the regular season against Brown and the conference tournament at Princeton, the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) Tournament will be held in November.

The 2016 season was a good one for the Big Green. After falling to AIC in the NIRA Quarterfinals and placing second at the Ivy 7s, Dartmouth claimed the NIRA 7s Challenge Cup. A few days later, the Green were one of just 12 teams from across the country to earn a spot at the Women’s National Championship, ultimately placing fourth. 

Off the field, a number of players received recognition in various ways. Ashli Cook was named Academic All-Ivy. Frankie Sands was selected as one of four finalists for the Sorensen Award, which is presented to the top collegiate women’s rugby player in the nation. She was also named an NCAA All-American, along with Danielle Ramsay and Kat Ramage, while Morgan McGonagle was tabbed with honorable mention recognition.

The Bobcats enter this weekend with one game under their belts, a 42-22 win over Army last week. They were led by Mikah Maples, who tallied three first-half tries, while Ilona Maher also had three tries in the match to go along with three assists. This is the second time that Dartmouth and Quinnipiac have met, the last being in 2015 (L, 43-5). For the first time in their collegiate careers, Sands and her sister, Caitria, will meet on opposite sides of the pitch.

The Big Green will be led by captains Sands and McGonagle in 2017. Throughout her first year in Hanover, Sands was third on the team in points (35) and second in tries (7). McGonagle, who is entering her senior year, ended the 2016 campaign with one try.

Five rookies will be donning a green and white uniform for the first time in 2017. The group includes of a pair of Canadians, two from Colorado and a member of the USA Rugby National Team from California. Making up the Class of 2021 are Lilly Durbin, Kalia Hunter, Idia Ihensekhien, Marin Pennell and Rylee Stone.

Katie Dowty, the first head coach of the Dartmouth women’s rugby program, is entering her third season at the helm. She is assisted by Stacey Bridges, who joined the Big Green prior to last season.

Experience – “Our core of veteran players has been playing together for three years now. They know our systems and have a high level of game understanding, which allows us to manage the game strategically and make good on-field decisions. Our experienced players have also been able to integrate our exciting incoming class of players very quickly.” 

Depth – “Our bench will have a big impact on the game and our ability to play up tempo for 80 minutes. More importantly, those not in Saturday's twenty-three have shaped the team and pushed each other all preseason. Being able to scrimmage with two full squads has been invaluable for us.”

Belief – “We are coming in with a strong sense of the standard of rugby we know we can play. You can achieve what you believe you can achieve, and we are feeling confident in our vision for ourselves as a team and what we can achieve this season.”

- Head coach Katie Dowty