ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy women’s rugby team (2-4-1, 1-4-1) concludes its 15s regular season with the first Star Match against Army (3-4, 2-4) on Friday at the Anderson Rugby Complex in West Point, N.Y. The Star Match is part of the Army-Navy Star Series, presented by USAA.
The contest is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Fans can watch the match for free on The Rugby Network with links provided on NavySports.com(.)
Recap of Mount St. Mary’s Match
Navy posted a 17-17 tie against Mount St. Mary’s in its final home game of the fall season last Sunday.
A big play by the Mountaineers gave them a 7-0 lead just 1:40 into the match. Mount St. Mary’s held possession at its defensive 22-meter line and gained over 20 meters on a carry up the right sideline to advance to midfield. The ball carrier then offloaded the ball to a teammate, who broke two tackles to run over 50 meters for a try.
A pair of carries from Alexis Rohrbach and Kat Kadima pushed the Mids to their offensive 10-meter line in the seventh minute. Megan Leitz then kicked the ball downfield to drive deeper into Mount St. Mary’s territory. A Mountaineer attempted to receive the kick, but the ball bounced off her chest into the hands of Annabelle Hong. Hong put on the jets and ran 25 meters before touching the ball in the try zone to make the score, 7-5.
Navy stormed into its offensive 22-meter zone twice in the next 16 minutes of play, but a penalty and a turnover negated both scoring chances.
Mount St. Mary’s reclaimed possession by stealing the ball in its offensive zone. A penalty against the Mids on the next breakdown gifted the Mountaineers a free kick. Mount St. Mary’s booted the ball out of bounds inside its offensive 22-meter zone. The Mountaineers formed a maul after winning the lineout and drove to the five-meter line. Mount St. Mary’s passed the ball across the pitch from right to left and found a gap in Navy’s defense to score a try in the 28th minute to regain a seven-point lead.
A penalty during a breakdown against the Mountaineers in the 33rd minute awarded the Mids a free kick. Lilliana Gemma sent the attempt out of bounds near the five-meter line. Navy lost possession after committing a knock-on penalty, but quickly forced a turnover to go back on the offensive. Mount St. Mary’s was called for another foul during a breakdown to gift Abby Hershner a tap-and-go. She lowered her shoulder on the defenders in front of her and bulldozed her way across the try line to make the score, 12-10, in the 38th minute.
A deep kick from Leitz pinned the Mountaineers deep in their defensive zone in the second half. Mount St. Mary’s looked to regain ground with a clearing kick, but its kicker dropped the ball on the attempt for a knock-on penalty. The Mids received a scrum at their offensive five-meter line from the penalty. Lindy Gostage punched the ball into the try zone from short range in the 48th minute to put Navy in front for the first time in the contest. Hershner extended the lead to 17-12 with a made conversion kick.
A 30-meter carry helped the Mountaineers establish possession in their offensive 22-meter zone. Hershner brought down the ball carrier to save a try, but she was given a yellow card for a high tackle in the 52nd minute. Mount St. Mary’s eventually found the try zone in the 57th minute to tie the game, 17-17.
Navy was unable to take advantage of two penalty kick opportunities in the 63rd and 78th minutes and the match ended in a draw.
Hershner Climbs Up Record Book
Hershner finished with seven points against the Mountaineers to increase her scoring total to 46 points this season. Her effort helped her pass Nicole Deprey for the second-most points scored by a Mid in a single 15s season. Marissa Meyer holds the record with 65 points.
Hershner has accounted for 46 of Navy’s 113-points scored this fall (40.7). She also leads the team in conversion kicks (three) and penalty kicks (10).
Hear From Coach McCarthy and Abby Hershner
Navy director of multimedia Luke Slabaugh spoke with head coach Murph McCarthy and Hershner at Wednesday’s practice about the upcoming matchup against Army. Fans can watch the video HERE.
Sydney Boutz Navy Sports Magazine Feature
Senior co-captain Sydney Boutz talked with Pete Medhurst on the Navy Sports Magazine this week to discuss what playing for the first Star means to the team. Fans can watch the interview HERE.
A go-ahead try and made conversion kick with 1:30 remaining in the match helped Harvard defeat Dartmouth, 19-17. The Crimson won all seven matches to earn their first undefeated 15s regular season. Harvard also claimed its first victory against Dartmouth since 2019.
Army and Quinnipiac both claimed non-conference victories. The Black Knights won a tight contest against Penn State (26-19) and the Bobcats cruised to a commanding win over American International College (80-0).
Navy will have to wait another week to see if it will qualify for the National Intercollegiate Rugby Association (NIRA) Playoffs with multiple league matches scheduled for Nov. 4.
The teams who possess one of the top-four power rankings in the league will qualify for the NIRA Playoffs. The semifinals will feature the No. 1 vs. No. 4 seeds and the No. 2 vs. No. 3 seeds. The semifinal matches will be played at the schools that earn the higher seeds on Nov. 11. The NIRA Championship Match will take place on Nov. 18 in Cambridge, Mass.
Army-Navy Star Series
The Army-Navy Star Series presented by USAA is an annual competition between Army and Navy where a team can earn a Star by winning a game/match/meet against one another. The annual showdown between the two rivals in each sport is deemed the Star Game/Match/Meet with the athletes from the winning team receiving a Star for their letter sweaters. The school who finishes an academic year with more Star wins is the winner of the Star Series that season. For those sports who face Army multiple times in a season, the Star Game is designated prior to the start of the year. With both men’s and women’s rugby being added to the Star Series, there are now 26 total Star competitions.
Navy has dominated the Star Series over the last 45 years, owning a 39-4-2 record. The Mids won the 2022-23 Star Series, 14-10.
Navy leads the all-time overall series against Army, 1162-882-45 (56.7), including a 178-120-3 (59.7) mark over the last 10 years. Additionally, the Mids own a 128-75-3 (62.9) advantage in the Star Series over the last 10 years.
The Black Knights leads the 2023-24 Star Series, 1-4-1. Fans can view the full 2023-24 Star Series schedule HERE.
• Army enters the match with a 3-4 record and has won two of its six games against NIRA opponents.
• The Black Knights ended last season with a 6-1 record in league play and qualified for the NIRA Playoffs.
• Army won just one of its first four contests and was outscored, 122-61, during that stretch.
• The Black Knights are 0-2 in games played in West Point this season.
• Army is allowing 24.7 points per match and has surrendered 30 or more points in three games.
• Friday will be the second match between the Black Knights and the Mids with both teams under varsity status. Army used an excellent defensive performance to defeat Navy, 15-5, last March in Leesburg, Va.