After closing out the fall semester with a perfect record in league play and winning the prestigious Stanford Invitational in January, the members of the University of Colorado women's club rugby team are hungry for more success -- and, hopefully, a national championship.

They'll have a chance to continue their winning streak Sunday against the Boulder Babes, a local, non-collegiate women's team, when the two squads meet on CU's Business Field.

CU vs. Boulder Babes

When: 11 a.m. Sunday

Where: Business Field, CU campus, Boulder

"It will just be a friendly game between us," said Kodi Kassell, the team's president. "This is a good game for our rookies to get the feel of the game and practice what they have been learning for the past five weeks."

The Buffs usually play the Babes once or twice every season, so they already have some idea of what to expect. This week at practice, the team focused on preparing for the Babes' aggressive style by working on one-on-one tackles.

Like Kassell, fifth-year head coach Jim Stebbins expects this game to be a great opportunity for the younger players to gain valuable experience and playing time. Several players will be gone for the under-19 select team tryouts and under-23 select game, which will give other girls a chance to step up.

It also serve as a gauge of where the team sits at this point in the season.

"We will be using this game to see how the new players are coming along, how well they can take the basics, passing and tackling, and use them in a game situation," Stebbins said. "As coaches, we will be looking for where we need improvement and use this to help plan practices as we prepare for the playoffs."

Right now, the playoffs, which begin next month, are the team's No. 1 focus. The Buffs are currently ranked fifth in the country, and they're determined to move up to No. 4.

Holly Atkinson tackles Gedda Rodriguez-Howard during drills at practice for the women’s club rugby team at the University of Colorado on Wednesday.
Holly Atkinson tackles Gedda Rodriguez-Howard during drills at practice for the women's club rugby team at the University of Colorado on Wednesday. (Mark Leffingwell)

"Our goals for this season are to win our playoff game in Louisiana and advance to sweet 16s in the national tournament," said sophomore scrumhalf/center Emily Spangler. "I think we can go farther than that, but that is the starting point."

Although the team lost a few key players to graduation last year, this year's group has really come together to form a successful unit, both on and off the field.

"The strength of this team has to be the fact that they all support each other both on and off the field," Stebbins said. "It takes all 15 players to win a rugby match, and these women play as a unit and not 15 individuals. They push each other to be better rugby players."

Kassell believes the players' passion for each other and the sport will ultimately drive them to achieve whatever goals they set.

"We want to prove to ourselves and the community that women's rugby is not just a pastime for us but a passion for our lives," she said. "I think the team will achieve our goal by devotion, which every person on this team has. We all really love the sport and pretty much live the sport.

"Rugby has become who we are -- fighters! We want the best, and the best is the top."