By Rebecca Gunning, @beck2142
With one season of Division II rugby under its belt and a head coach for the first time in team history, the St. Bonaventure University women’s rugby team hopes to improve on its 4-3 record from last year.
The team opened up play Saturday, Sept. 5 against last season’s division winner, University at Buffalo, losing 51-3. While that is a big deficit, UB only allowed 8 points in seven games last fall so the Bonnies were pleased with their play.
“I thought it was a really good game. The second half was definitely better than the first half,” said junior Shannon Conheady. “We played a lot better defensively against them and I don’t think they were ready for it.”
The team was happy to get the powerhouse of the division out of the way early instead of waiting to play them at the end like last year.
“A weight has just been lifted off our shoulders,” said captain Laura Calamia. “I was kind of anxious all week leading up to that game and it’s over and we’re moving ahead and looking towards teams that are more of our playing level.”
Another weight that’s off the shoulders of Calamia is having to coach the team, which had been the captain’s duty in the past. Over the summer the university hired Tracey Schrems of the English department to be the head coach.
Schrems has been involved with the team in some capacity since 2003, either as an adviser or just a supporter, so it was a no-brainer for her to take the job as coach. However, with becoming head coach comes some added pressure.
“I feel a lot of extra pressure and I think it’s self-inflicted because the university is extremely supportive of us,” Schrems said. “But when you’re coaching at the college level you’re expected to produce.”
However, with the current team Schrems is left with, producing is going to be difficult. Only five players remain from the 2011 New York State champion team, one of whom was an alternate and played only five minutes throughout that season.
This was evident in Saturday’s game at Buffalo State College, which kept the Bonnies winless in its first two games.
“It’s been difficult with a new team,” said Calamia, who is in her sixth semester on the team. “But they will get better as time goes on.”
Conheady, in her fifth semester, doesn’t believe the lack of veteran presence will be too much of an issue.
“I think we’ll be good. You always lose a couple. We had a bunch of girls join last semester and a bunch join this semester,” Conheady said. “I think getting a new team on is healthy for the sport. It’s nice to have fresh blood.”
Despite the little experience most of the team has, Calamia doesn’t believe there is a lack of skill.
“I played with them for so long and then looking to your right and left and they’re not there is different,” Calamia said. “I think the skill is still there, though. People picked up in their shoes and did well.”
“What I see with this group is that they’re skills are coming along nicely,” she said. “Building a team is what we’re trying to do this year.”
Building up the team this season is including getting the Bonnies name out there and touring. The first spot the team is headed to is Florida in January to take on the Orlando Woman’s Rugby Club and participate in a clinic. The girls will also be spending four days at Walt Disney World.
In order for this to happen, the team is raising money by collecting cans and bottles and is seeking help from the Bonaventure community.
“In order for us to get the St. Bonaventure women’s rugby name out there we need to tour so this will be our first tour,” Schrems explained. “Every nickel counts!”
The Bonnies next game will be home next Saturday against Fredonia. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.