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Oregon women’s club rugby makes finals push despite loss of nine seniors

Last season, Oregon women’s club rugby crushed Oregon State 41-5. But after losing nine of its seniors to graduation, the new-look team fell to the Beavers by one point this fall.

Now, with a new outlook and some new recruits, the Dirty Ducks are looking to make up for lost talent and redeem their name.

“It has been difficult, but we knew we were going to lose a lot of seniors,” scrum half Teniya Rocha said. “This year has been really about rebuilding the team.”

The Dirty Ducks kicked off their rebuilding season at the end of October this year with a win over Southern Oregon, followed by a 39-38 upset loss to OSU in Corvallis. The ladies have since steered their season back in the right direction, and now they’re working on increasing membership to find a way into the finals.

Senior hooker and flanker Leudy E De Los Santos, who has been around for the good and the bad of the past three years, said the loss to OSU was a shock for the Dirty Ducks.

“We went to this game low in numbers with barely any subs,” De Los Santos said. “This is the first year we don’t have a large group of girls.”

The Ducks made a push and took the game into overtime, but in the end the Beavers pulled off the victory. Even with the loss, De Los Santos was proud of her team.

“My teammates played, fought and pushed themselves to continue even when they had no energy to spare,” De Los Santos said. “[That] is what made the match go into overtime.”

The following week, the Dirty Ducks redeemed themselves with a 46-5 win over Western Oregon. Rocha said defense, the Dirty Ducks’ strong suit, was key to the win.

“Our team goal is to come up hard, explosive, and powerful on defense,” Rocha said. “The offense will come, but coming up together as a flat line is crucial.”

De Los Santos called the win over Western Oregon a “demonstration of how we work hard and train to be able to polish those errors and capitalize [on] them next time we play.”

In addition to keeping a strong defense, De Los Santos and Rocha enjoy the strong team bond the club team shares.

“I’ve played volleyball, basketball, and softball,” De Los Santos said. “I never felt like I was part of a team until I joined rugby.”

The Dirty Ducks look to bring that strong team mentality to their next match against Washington on Jan. 30.

“Regarding finals, I don’t see why not us,” De Los Santos said. “But we’re taking it a match at a time.”

Follow Madison Layton on Twitter @MadisonLayton01

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Madison Layton

Madison Layton