Nashtoah, WI–It was six years in the making, starting back in 2017 when Hamilton played in their first game as a team against a CMH JV side in a 48-0 loss. It was the first of many lopsided losses in the pre-season, regular season, and playoffs. Hamilton was 0-6 against CMH in 15s rugby, being outscored 334-34. That changed yesterday when Hamilton thrased the Crusaders for a 53-7 win on the back of a hat trick performance from senior Grace Strelow.
Hamilton opened the scoring with a try by Rachel Rank (12), the beneficiary of a chain of offloads by her sister Meghan Rank (12) and Izzy Neibler (12). Strelow pulled the ball from a ruck and put it in for the team’s second score, and the team seemed to have a third when Rachel Rank dropped her placement in-goal, but Jasia Torres (12) was able to return the ensuing five-meter drop for the score. A switch pass to Strelow and a line break by Rachel Rank led to two more scores. Meghan Rank converted on three of her five kicks and the first half ended with with a commanding 31-0 lead.
The game turned slightly as CMH used some tough runs to return the opening kickoff in for a try, cutting the lead to 31-7.
Hamilton quickly responded as Paige Smolik (11) scored by creating a line break with a dummy pass. Full back Caitlyn Dieman joined the line as her teammates made three pass at full pace, and Dieman was able to score in the corner of the try. Strelow added another as she draged three CMH players to just short of the tryline, but used her placement to reach across the line and score the points. Strelow became one of just three players in Hamilton history register a hat trick in a WGR 15s game, joining Kenzie Kolesari (2017, against KM) and Lauren Leonardi (2018, against KM).
Meghan Rank made one of the conversions for those tries, and the Chargers extended their lead to 48-7.
CMH got the ball back and was pressing deep in the Hamilton zone, but the Chargers stole a defensive ruck and Emily Hokanson (12) pulled the ball from the ruck for a good run before being high tackled to the ground. On the ensuing penalty, Smolik broke the line and ran in for the final score.
CMH is coming off a season where they were state champions in 15s rugby, finished 4th at the national tournament, and ranked 14th in the nation, according to the Goff Rugby Report. CMH hadn’t lost to a team in Wisconsin, outside of DSHA, in over 12 years.
Hamilton will complete their regular season with a game in Cottage Grove against the Madtown Furries. With a win, the team will join DSHA and CMH as the only teams who have gone undefeated in the regular season and the only teams to win the regular season conference title since the two-conference format started.