North Carolina Sneaks Past Women's Rugby, 29-15, In USA Rugby Championship Opener

The Harvard women's rugby team suffered a narrow defeat in its first appearance at the USA Rugby Division I Championships Saturday (Photo: Lynne Skilken). 

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - Playing in its first-ever USA Rugby Collegiate Division I National Championship Tournament, the Harvard women's rugby team suffered a narrow defeat to North Carolina, falling 29-15 in the first round of the tournament Saturday. 

The Crimson was able to withstand early pressure from the Tar Heels thanks to some big hits from Shelby Lin and Cayla Calderwood, but UNC was eventually able to crack the Crimson defense, putting the score at 5-0. Calderwood would help the Crimson retaliate soon after though, crossing the try line to knot the score at 5-5 as the conversion attempt fell short. Harvard took the lead on an ensuing possession when Cheta Emba corraled a pass and took it in for the score, putting Harvard up 10-5 midway through the opening half. 

The Tar Heels would answer back with a pair of scores of their own, however, plunging in from close range to tie it at 10-10 and then taking a 15-10 lead into the half thanks to a well-executed kick-and-chase to the corner. UNC posted the game's first converted try shortly into the second half to jump out to a 22-10 lead, and followed with another converted score to grab its biggest lead of the day at 29-10. Lin tallied one final score for the Crimson with just over 10 minutes to play, but that is as close as Harvard would come in the 29-15 defeat. 

Harvard will play Indiana in a consolation game Sunday at 10 a.m., before returning to Cambridge.