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Tech Ruggers Show Talent, Diversity in Santa Fe

SANTA FE, N.M. September 4, 2014 – The Queen and Pygmy Rugby Clubs of New Mexico Tech opened the 2014-2015 campaign in mixed fashion at the 42nd annual Santa Fe Tens tournament on a windy Labor Day Sunday.

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The New Mexico Tech Queens at the 42nd annual Santa Fe Tens Tournament. Back row from left: Marisol Flores, Phoebe Nicholls, Tiffany Luterbach, Natasha Trujillo, Anastasia Frye, Abigail Montoya, Cassidy Coleman and Andrea Grijalva. Front row from left: an NMSU guest player, Lisa Sanchez, Robin Skelton and another NMSU guest player.

 Photo by Dave Wheelock/NMT

The women’s team fronted up bravely in a mid-morning loss to the “A” team of national powerhouseUniversity of New Mexico, turned the tables on UNM’s second unit at mid-day and fell to open women’s division contenders Tucson Lightning in their afternoon closer.

For their part the Pygmies experienced the gamut of results with a win over University of Texas at El Paso, a draw with UNM’s Lobos, and a loss to New Mexico State University’s Chiles. The Lobos subsequently captured the Santa Fe Tens title by beating Colorado Springs in a semifinal and then the Albuquerque Brujos in the championship match.

Halfback Cassidy Coleman scored the season's first five-point try for the Queens in the second half of their opening match against UNM's Firsts. Teammate Phoebe Nicholls connected with the two-point conversion kick but the Lady Lobos rolled on to a 34-7 victory.

The Queens’ second match ended 27-7, and this time it was the Tech side jumping up and down afterward. Again Coleman got Tech started, and she was eventually joined in the try-scoring column by flying wing Natasha Trujillo, who ran in two five-pointers, Mari Flores, who also crossed twice, and former Atomic Sisters (Albuquerque) veteran Anastasia Frye. Flores added one conversion kick.

The Tucson Lightning brought the upstart Queens to earth with a 39-0 thud in the Tech women's last foray of the day. The vastly more experienced Arizonans played a patient attacking game featuring accurate passing to wear their young rivals down. The Queens are next scheduled to combine with New Mexico State University on September 20 in Socorro against the powerful UNM Lady Lobos.

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Halfback Rick Cosentino of the New Mexico Tech Rugby Club goes forward against NMSU at the Santa Fe Tens tournament over the Labor Day weekend. Running in support is Blaine Trujillo.

 Photo courtesy of Derek Lucero

Tech’s Pygmies started well against the Miners of Texas-El Paso. Aaron Long scored the first try of the season before the Miners struck back with their own unconverted try, and the teams went to halftime drawn at five. Tech got untracked in the second spell with two tries from head captain Jason Lee and one from hooker Carl Peart. The Pygmies could not make a conversion kick but came out on top 20-5.

The second match with UNM was a high-tempo affair filled with zooming runs and hard tackles. Tech went into halftime ahead 7-0 after backs captain John Mark Stiles converted his own scoring run right before the whistle. The second half was even more torrid than the first and only stiff defense kept the score down. The Lobos finally saved their skins with a scoring run to the blind side, which with the conversion kick resulted in a 7-7 tie.

The Pygmies went into their final pool match with New MexicoState's Chiles needing to outperform UNM, who were handily disposing of by UTEP on the adjacent field. But if the Pygmies were taking the Chiles for granted the intended victims had other ideas. State played a physical yet controlled game and came away with a deserved 12-0 victory to thoroughly upset the Pygmy Plan and set UNM on the path to championship glory.

Tiffany Luterbach was named Woman of the Tournament by her teammates and John Mark Stiles was similarly honored by the Pygmies.

The Pygmies and UTEP Miners will square off in a 1 p.m. match in Socorro on September 13 as part of the Rio Grande Union college championship series. The Queens are idle until joining their counterparts in a doubleheader on September 20, also in Socorro. The Queens will host UNM's Lady Lobos at 10:30 a.m. while the Pygmies seek vengeance against the NMSU Chiles at 1 p.m.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director