Women’s rugby club strides on to nationals, looks to raise $20,000

After a hard season of defeating club rugby teams around the state, the Indiana University of Pennsylvania women’s rugby team has qualified for the Women’s National Championship Division II final four at Stanford University on May 10.

One last obstacle the team must overcome to play in these playoff games is to raise $25,000, the funds they need to travel to compete in nationals.

IUP’s women’s rugby team has been ranked first in the Allegheny Rugby Union and continues to succeed in the USA Rugby playoffs each year, according to The Beak.

“Our 2014 fall season, we were undefeated in the Allegheny Rugby Union,” said co-captain Morgan McLaughlin (senior, business marketing).

“We are sending a roster of 23 girls. We also have support from many of our other teammates, alumni and family members that are making the trip with us.”

The team qualified into the sweet 16 bracket and earned a chance to compete in the final four at nationals.

“When we won our first game on April 26, we then qualified for elite eight,” McLaughlin said. “After winning that game on April 27, we then got the bid to play in the national series final four playoffs in California on May 10.”

The team has started fundraising for its journey by asking all community members to donate anything they can to help the girls, and they have raised around $8,000 thus far.

“Right now we are scrambling for funds, since we just found out on Sunday we would be going to the Final 4 in California,” said co-captain Stephanie Lucchese (senior, sociology). “We are using social media to our fullest advantage and have made a funding website and have shared our story and the site on Facebook and Twitter.”

The website will be accepting donations until Tuesday, and further donations may be given to club President Jami Marsicano (hospitality management).

The club was started in 2010, Lucchese said. This year is the first year they have gone this far in competition since starting at IUP.

“We went 7-0 in our fall season, having scores as high as 100-0 and cutting it close playing against Slippery Rock winning 33-32,” Lucchese said. “We practice pretty much all year round and try to come back in the spring season once the snow dies down a little bit.”

The women’s rugby team will have nothing stopping them from traveling to California, even graduation.

“There is a total of eight seniors who will be skipping graduation to play and three seniors paying their own way to support us,” Lucchese said. “This shows the dedication that we have to one another and the team as a whole.”

“It’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, and we decided as a team that this is where our hearts are,” McLaughlin said. “Rugby has our hearts.”

Should the women’s rugby club raise the funds to travel to nationals, they will take on California State University, Northridge, in a semifinal game May 10.

Should IUP defeat Cal State, they will face the winner of Appalachian State and Florida International.

The national final is set for May 11 at Stanford.

To help send IUP women’s Rugby to nationals, donate online at http://www.gofundme.com/8opnwk or contact the president, Jami Marsicano, at j.e.marsicano@iup.edu.