The Vassar College women’s rugby team started the first 40 minutes of their season on a rough note in a strong, physical battle against a talented Sacred Heart University team. The Brewers spent an extended amount of time inside Sacred Heart’s 22 and dominated overall possession. They continued to pressure the Sacred Heart defense, but it was Sacred Heart that managed to score 3 tries during the first half, and the Brewers went into their 2nd half down 17-5.
This week’s Athlete of the Week junior Anne Fritzson quickly put a damper on Sacred Heart’s high spirits early in the second half. Junior Anne Fritzson scored a hat trick of tries throughout the game to help bring home the Brewers’ first win on Sunday, September 7. Fritzson had scored the first try of the game to put the Brewers up 5-0 in the first half, but otherwise they were unable to convert effectively despite being in Sacred Heart’s defensive end for the majority of the first half. The second half seemed to bear more of the same before Fritzson scored her second try early in the second half which brought the Brewers confidence. They brought the score to 15-17 but still trailed Sacred Heart by two. The Brewers, led by Fritzson, continued to press on Sacred Heart’s defense before breaking through and stealing the lead with Fritzson’s third try of the game on their way to finishing 39-17.
Fritzson remembers that weekend as one of her two favorite games of rugby ever. She explained in an emailed statement to the Misc, “I started rugby last year, and I would have to say my favorite game was the first game of the season. It was my first time playing and I had no idea what I was doing, but the team was so helpful in telling me what to do. I will always remember that game! My other favorite memory is from our most recent game was scoring my third try. It was the best try I have ever scored! I felt so good after it.”
Fritzson has come a long way from her first game. She’s quickly become a trusted veteran on the team and someone for the rookies to look up to. This year’s team boasts a strong squad of 36 women; however, the squad is made up of many newcomers and they will be looking to returners like Fritzson to lead the way.
According to sophomore teammate Nathalie Freeman, Fritzson is more than ready to be placed in a leadership role and has been doing a wonderful job helping out younger players on and off the field already. “Anne is one of the kindest and most genuine people I know! Outside of rugby, she is so fun and lighthearted, but when she’s on the field she becomes a focused and unstoppable force! Anne is able to weave through defenders and make incredible runs, but always stays so modest about her rugby abilities and makes sure to encourage everyone else through out the game! It’s truly a pleasure to have her as a teammate.”
Fritzson has tended to see herself as a more defensively minded player, but as she’s shown already this year, she can be a true offensive threat. “My job on defense is to cover the sides of the field and not allow people around the corners. On offense, I typically try to score in the corners, but I am learning how to be more involved…Every position is important in its own special way, and my position’s importance depends on the team we play. Sometimes I can get nice runs on the outside, sometimes I should help the forwards. And defense is always important! I think my overall performance has been a result of my hard work in fitness. My strengths are agility and speed, so I will keep myself in good shape so that I can take advantage of good opportunities!”
This past Sunday, September 14, Fritzson continued to show her offensive prowess in scoring a try for the Brewers against a strong Marist team. Marist has historically been a powerhouse in women’s rugby, and the Brewers managed to shut them down. Last year’s team was defeated when Marist scored 53 points and yet this year Fritzson and her defense held the still strong team to just 5. The Brewers scored 37 for the win. The strong defense is even more impressive considering the Brewers lost one of their starters midway through the second half and was replaced by a rookie. Despite the stressful, high-energy game, Fritzson remained calm and continued to help lead her defense and offense to a very strong win. Fritzson explained that this demeanor is something she tries to work on before games. “My mindset right before competition is usually pretty relaxed. I don’t like going into games feeling uneasy or nervous, so I do everything in my power to calm my mind. The only thing I ever worry about is my tackling ability, so I usually spend my time before the match going over the defense in my head and telling myself to be fearless. You can’t go into a rugby game feeling scared!”
For Fritzson rugby is more than just about what happens on the field. She’s a student first, interested in psychology, but hopes to remain a strong part of the program even after graduation. “In the future, I hope to eventually go to graduate school for clinical psychology! I also hope to continue to excel in rugby and keep in contact with the team after I graduate. I have made many great friends with rugby, and would like to keep ties with them. I also want to see future teams develop!”
VCWR will be back in action away at SUNY Cortland on Sunday, September 21. Their next home match will be against the University of Albany, in a tri-state conference matchup on Sunday, October 5.