The Orchard Park girls rugby team is in a league of their own. They've now won back-to-back state titles and are ranked in the Top 25 nationally.
The Quakers hope their success helps further define what it means to be a female athlete.
"There are girls that will have bows in their hair and then break their nose on a tackle, pop up without a tear and be like, 'oops, I need to do something about it,'" Head Coach Lisa Henrich said as she motioned to adjust a broken nose. "They don't have to be tough off the field to show their incredibly tough on the field."
The squad is about as competitive a group you'll find in Western New York.
"I just love to say I play rugby and yeah, that's a sport where there's a lot of contact but I love it," junior Hannah Riccardi said.
From bumps, bruises, sprains, strains and even breaks -- there are no modified rules. They suit up and play within the same regulations as boys teams, which is not always the case when it comes to high school athletics.
"Girls and boys play by the exact same rules, which is something I really like about it, in contrast with sports like lacrosse where the girls game in very limited in terms of physicality," Henrich said.
"It shows the girls are just as tough as the guys can be," Frangelica Brautz added.
Fresh off winning a second straight state title, sophomore Emily Henrich says the success has helped changed the view of the team within the community.
"I think people undermine how good women can be at such a physical sport," sophomore Emily Henrich said. "It's been really exciting, especially in Orchard Park since we've won states twice. It's a bigger thing in our school and people are giving us respect, which is always exciting to be earning. And, I know we're earning that through hard work. It's just very cool to be redefining what people think women can do."
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