September 6, 2013

Women’s Rugby Gears Up for Air Force on Saturday, Sept. 7

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Game 2: Game Notes vs. Air Force 

Quinnipiac University (1-0, 0-0 Northeast)
United States Air Force (0-0)
Saturday, September 7, 2013 – 11 a.m.
Air Force Academy –Colorado Springs, Colo.

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The Sky is the Limit
The Quinnipiac women's rugby team (1-0, 0-0 Northeast) returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11 a.m. MST.  The Bobcats head out west to the United States Air Force Academy for a non-conference showdown in Colorado Springs, Colo. Quinnipiac is in search of its 17th win in its last 18 games.

Scouting the Falcons
Last season, the Falcons concluded the year with a 2-2 overall record. The Falcons chalked up wins against instate rivals, Colorado University and Colorado State University, but fell to the BYU Bulldogs and to New Mexico in the regular season. Abby Buns and Tracy Smith, two of the Falcons key players, were selected to the West Regional Collegiate All-American Camp this past summer. Lisa Rosen joins the Falcons for her first full season as head coach.  Rosen has competed in rugby for over 10 years and is listed in the US Army. 

All- Time against Air Force
This match will be the first time these two programs have met.

Kosko Cracks a Career High
Sophomore Natalie Kosko marked a career high with five tries in one game against the Panthers of Eastern Illinois (Aug. 31).  The wing had 25 points in her first outing and totals 140 points for her career in just her second season with the Bobcats.

Out of the Gates
The Bobcats opened their 2013-14 season with a win, 65-7, on the road against EIU, Saturday, Aug. 31. This was the fourth meeting between these two NCAA Division I programs. Natalie Kosko recorded five tries in the meeting, while junior Elisa Cuellar had arguably the best outing of her career with a pair of tries, an assist and a steal from the Panthers.

Who to Watch
Head coach Becky Carlson returns for a third season in 2013, bringing along 12 players from last year's roster. The Bobcats joined the Northeast Rugby Conference at the beginning of the season and remain as one of two Division I programs in the NCAA. After finishing a successful 2012-13 campaign, the Quinnipiac University women's rugby team is poised for a return to the national stage and a shot at the title. 

Quinnipiac has two seniors back for their final year, Nancy Dunn and Colleen Doherty. Each provided crucial minutes for Quinnipiac's line last year, and will once again play a large role for the Bobcats. Dunn and Doherty also combined for 21 assists and 62 tackles for the Bobcats. 

In addition to Dunn and Doherty, Quinnipiac also returns junior Raechel Stimson. Stimson, a silent but crucial presence for the Bobcats, collected 45 points, 41 solo tackles and 11 runs over 20 yards last year. Stimson was one of three Bobcats selected to the Tri-State All-Conference team in 2012. Elisa Cuellar will also be a force to be reckoned with on the field this year. The small and agile fullback returns for her junior season after compiling 40 points and 10 assists in her sophomore campaign. Shannon Durkin was an all-around threat for the Bobcats last year and returns for her junior season. She compiled 50 points off of 10 tries and amassed 24 tackles for Quinnipiac a year ago.

The offensive catalyst, sophomore Natalie Kosko, returns for her second season in Bobcat uniform. The 5-6 wing earned the chance to play for the US National Rugby team over in England for the Nation's Cup this past summer. Kosko led the Bobcats last year with 155 points on 31 tries including a season-high of four tries in the game against Hofstra. Along with Kosko, incoming freshman Maggie Myles joined the U20 US Rugby team in England as they both helped the US to a second place finish in a tournament with England, South Africa and Canada. 

2012-13 Recap
Quinnipiac finished the 2012-13 season with a 15-1 record and capped off its first winning season since the program started in 2011. The Bobcats mounted a perfect 12-0 regular season mark as they were named the Tri-State Conference Champions after defeating Albany, 22-14, in the championship game. Quinnipiac set records throughout the year as they outscored their opposition, 619-128. As Quinnipiac wrapped up their regular season schedule, the Bobcats received a bid to the collegiate national tournament. Quinnipiac hosted the Temple Owls for a ticket into the National Round of 16 back in April. The Owls proved no competition for the Bobcats as they easily sidelined Temple, 44-0, for their seventh shut-out of the season. The Bobcats would continue on in the tournament as they defeated Lee University and Appalachian State for the opportunity to play in the quarterfinals at the United Emirates National tournament in Stanford, Calif. Quinnipiac would suffer their first loss of the season in the semifinals to the powerhouse Winona State – a team that lost in the championship to Washington State. The Bobcats wouldn't leave the season on a sour note though, as Quinnipiac would prevail with a comeback win over the University of Buffalo, 22-12, in the consolation game. This ranked Quinnipiac third in the country after just two years of existence.

Welcoming the Class of 2017
The incoming class of 2017 should prove to be one of the most seasoned group of individuals for the Quinnipiac women's rugby program. The incoming class includes seven players to join the Bobcats; Christie Albers, Madison Gegeckas, Maggie Myles, Tayler Schussler, Lindy Wise, Rachel Wrinn, and Hailey Wyatt.

Christie Albers, an all-state selection out of Castle View High School in Colorado, helped lead her team to the state championship game last fall. A versatile athlete, some believe she will have a chance to play for the USA Women's Olympic rugby team in 2016. Albers has a very quick first step and the ability to break away from defenders at any moment. She was also a member of the Sabercats' swimming team and track & field team.

Madison Gegeckas, a native of Downingtown, Pa., is another dual-sport athlete who will bring athleticism to the squad. Gegeckas began her career with the Downingtown East High School rugby team before joining the Pennsylvania All-Star team. She joined the All-Star team after her sophomore year and helped the team to two Pennsylvania Rugby State Championships during her stint. Gegeckas was also a member of the Cougars soccer team as well.

Maggie Myles played rugby for the West Carroll Marauders and graduated from Catoctin High School in Maryland. Myles was the youngest player to make the girls under-19 Mid-Atlantic All-Star team, which went on to win a national title in San Diego. She then again caught the eye of national coaches with her play in a national all-star tournament for the U.S. under-19 developmental team. In March, she became the only player from Maryland to make the under-20 national team after trying out in Atlanta. She joined the roster this summer, along with Quinnipiac sophomore Natalie Kosko, and made a trip to England for the 2013 Nation's Cup.

Tayler Schussler is also a member of the West Carroll Marauders Rugby Club, powerhouse program that has made national tournament appearances in eight of the last nine years, with a top finish of sixth place. She was one of seven players to take the next step to the collegiate level. She is a graduate of Delone Catholic High School, where she also was a member of the softball team. 

Lindey Wise, a graduate of Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Wisconsin, has enjoyed tremendous success on the rugby field over the last four years. Wise has been a part of four Wisconsin State Championships, three Midwest Championships and a USA Seven National High School Championship since picking up rugby back in 2009. Along with her team's success came individual honors for Wise, as she was named the 2013 DSHA Rugger of the Year, selected to the All-State team in 2010 and 2011, and named to the 2013 National High School Rugby Championships All-Tournament team. Wise also took part in basketball and softball through high school.

Connecticut native Rachel Wrinn joins the Bobcats after starting the women's rugby program at Southington High School as a sophomore. After starting the program from scratch, Wrinn has helped the program become the largest rugby club in Connecticut. A three-year captain, Wrinn owns numerous school records, including most tries scored in a game, most tries scored in a season, along with several other defensive categories. She led the team to a State Championship Runner-Up in 2013 and became the first member of the Lady Knights to earn a rugby scholarship.

Hailey Wyatt, a two-sport athlete from Firestone, Colo., transferred late in her high school career from Fredrick High School to Summer High School during the summer of her senior year. She spent 13 years as a gymnast before deciding to take on rugby in her final year. Wyatt made an immediate impact for her new team, helping the Lady Tigers to a fifth consecutive the state championship to earn a spot in the national competition. The team fell short in the first round but finished the season on a high note with a win in the consolation game.

The Schedule
The Bobcats will see several news faces on the field this year, as the squad transitions into a new group of constituents in the Northeast Rugby Conference. The league includes Division I programs in the northeast region and allows Quinnipiac to compete against some of the top teams in the nation.

 "Our move to the Northeast Rugby Conference has us matched against some of the toughest college teams in the country, including our fellow varsity member Norwich, who finished second at Division I nationals back in May," said Carlson, who enters her third year at helm of the program. "We are excited about our elevation to Division I in such a short tenure of the program. We foresee every game to be a great challenge that our Bobcats will meet with great energy and enthusiasm."

The schedule certainly doesn't present any favors for the Bobcats early on, as Quinnipiac plays five out of its first six games away from home. Quinnipiac opens the season of Aug. 31 at Eastern Illinois against a team that the Bobcats defeated for the first time last year. After that, Quinnipiac heads to Colorado Springs to face Air Force in a non-conference clash.

The Bobcats then prepare for two marquee matches at Norwich (Sept. 14) and at Harvard (Sep t. 17) – two fellow varsity programs. The conference-opener against Norwich can be seen live on the Northeast Sports Network with all the action starting at 12 p.m. The showdown with Harvard will mark the second ever match between two Division I NCAA women's rugby programs.

Three weeks into the season, Quinnipiac welcomes American International College (Sept. 21) for its 2013 home-opener. The Bobcats will look to extend its home-unbeaten streak to eight straight games - a span that dates back to October of 2011.

After a road trip to University of Virginia (Sept. 28), Quinnipiac returns home for four consecutive games on Mount Carmel Campus. The Bobcats take on Northeast Rugby adversaries Army (Oct. 5), UMass (Oct. 12), and intrastate rival UConn (Oct. 19), before hosting Senior Day on Oct. 26 against Eastern Illinois. The Bobcats were undefeated (6-0) last year in Hamden and haven't suffered a loss since October of 2011. The Bobcats' regular-season finale features a trip to West Chester University (Nov. 2) for a showdown with the Rams.

With the regular season in the rearview mirror, the Northeast Rugby Conference Playoffs will take place on the weekend Nov. 9-10. The tournament features the league's top four teams in a single-elimination format with the winner to be crowned champion.

About the Northeast Conference
The Northeast Rugby Conference is still in its beginning stages as an organized conference. It was established in 2013 and is home to six schools in the New England region and Tri-State Area. Quinnipiac will compete in the Northeast Rugby Conference with American International College (AIC), Army, Norwich, UConn and UMass Amherst.