Tournament Report: Stone Lions Dominate at Heart of Dixie

Nashville 39 v FSU 7
Nashville 51 v Lee University 7

This is what some of our most experienced vets have to say about the world-renowned Heart of Dixie Tournament: “I detest camping with every fiber of my being, but this is the one time I make an exception”, “this tournament is so much fun I’d show up even with a broken leg, unable to play!”, “Bang-a-rang!”. Wow, that HOD must be really something!

And indeed it was. Starting the morning with a solid victory against the very tough Florida State University out of Tallahassee gave these Stone Lions a great boost. The first half was dominated by your Nashville side leaving the Floridians scoreless, and marking the first of two hat-tricks! scored by Stone Lions Full-Back, Sarah Brown. The second half was more evenly matched, as Nashville subbed in more of our rookies and Florida added one monstrous Center with a stiff-arm about three meters long! It was a more exciting half and allowed FSU their 7 point comeback, off a stolen ball at the weak side wing.

The second match vs. our familiar rivals, Lee University, was even more exciting! Not only was there a ton of scoring, but they were also pretty scores. Most memorable play for this, your side-lined, now temporarily full-time reporter, was an intercepted pass by a Lee alumnus, Winger Abi Muelder. Abi played gracefully, nimbly and elegantly the entire match! The pass between the Lee Center and the Wing was good, but an amazingly timed sprint and a snatch had the ball in her hands. Two subsequent cuts to the inside had Abi loping through the try zone toward the uprights, unchallenged. It is difficult to adequately describe a run as smooth and beautiful as this, dear reader, and unfortunately video evidence is nonexistent.

The MVP award (lovingly referred to as the Bitch of the Pitch) was deservedly presented to rookie Fly-Half Molly Walters. This Stone Lion not only played outstandingly at an individual level, but excelled at difficult team-level contributions such as forming continuity and cohesiveness, play-generating and score-generating assists alike, rookie education and development by demonstrating tough fearless play as well as setting them up for attempts of their own. A player such as this is invaluable and does not come along often. My dear hugger, have you seen Molly play yet? If not, you are missing a whole package of teamwork, flash and skill: even at 5’4”, a titan of the sport. (By the way, Molly, let this commentary not go to your head…).

Special mention to our three new Zulu Warriors with their first try as Stone Lions:
Winger Heather Smith! Possibly the most eager rugger in history, with a great catch at the end of the line, cutting back inside like a pro and making the full-back miss!

Hooker Ashlee “Happy-Feet” Woods! Intelligently finding herself in the perfect position to recover a loose ball at the end of a solid team play down the back-line and punch it into the corner the final few meters!

Winger Erin Squires! This is one of the fittest, hardest hitting Wings in the league, running a powerful line close to touch and outrunning her defender, she pounds the ball into the try zone. Always stoic, she jogs back as if nothing outstanding has occurred. I beg to differ, Erin, you are uncatchable, unstoppable and irresistible.

The only unhappy part of the day was the sight of a benched #3, one Rainy Atherton, seen intermittently screaming loud cheers for her team one minute, moping inconsolably and staring moodily at her orthopedic boot the next. Some players just don’t handle injury well… I may have even seen a tear or two.

Fortunately, that player and all of the all-star NWRFC team will be making a decisive appearance at the True South Final Four tourney on October 18th! A clash of powerhouses! A sudden death battle for a spot at Championships! A winner-takes-all, two match format for the glory at the regional level!

By Rainy Atherton

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