Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rugby East Preview: Army

Pictured: Jake Lachina
Article & Artwork by Ryan J. Trost
This is American Rugby – Rugby East

Head Coach: Matt Sherman
2015 Fall Record: In Conference (5-2), Overall (5-3)
3rd place, Rugby East
Current D1A Top Twenty ranking: #12

Players to Watch:
Jake Lachina, Jr.
US College All-American, 2015-16
Andrew Fargo, Sr.
1st Team All-Conference, 2015
Mitchell Sanderson, Jr.
Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2015
Luke Heun, Sr.
Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2015

2015 was a wild ride for the Black Knights of Army-West Point. After starting the year red hot, they faltered a bit, losing three consecutive. Head Coach, Matt Sherman’s team is no shrinking violet however. The cadets regained their form in the spring, defeating Dartmouth, Utah, Navy and Oklahoma.

Sherman’s spirits are high regarding his squad’s fortunes over the year, which in large part are reliant on the stringent requirements placed on Service Academy athletes. “I loved our 2015 season and definitely consider it a success,” he said. “We certainly had our fair share of struggles throughout, but the resiliency and grit the team showed to bounce back, improve dramatically and be playing some very strong rugby by the end of the season was very gratifying.”

Take the jump to read more.

As a military academy, Army deals with high turnover rates in player availability. This autumn, they will be without six of their 2015 All-Conference performers. Such changes are good for the program and all it stands for though. “West Point is the world's preeminent leadership development institution,” Sherman said. “We have strong belief in our rising captains, senior class, and returning players on the whole, that they will uphold and build upon the standard set before them.”

Indeed, graduating 16 Firsties into the US Army as 2nd Lieutenants this spring remains a source of pride. That ability, for many players to wear the jersey honorably year to year is a key component in the school’s overarching principle to create leaders among men. It is also a reason the coach is reluctant to name “key players” as such. The expectation is for everyone on the team to do their part. The results, will follow naturally.

Case in point, Army started the 2016 season with a machinelike win over Stony Brook on Sept. 2nd. From here out, they have a “no rest for the weary” type of schedule. Conference play opens this Saturday at home vs. Iona and continues on a six week slate. That ride includes a Saturday-Sunday road weekend at St. Bonaventure and U. Buffalo on Sept 23rd – 24th.

The following week they are on the road again at Delaware, before finally coming home to West Point for their probable conference defining match against the Nittany Lions. They will also face Kutztown at home on Oct 29th before ending their fall campaign with what should be an especially entertaining match against their service academy rivals, the Air Force Academy. That Nov. 4th match will be played on the same weekend as the football team’s Commander in Chief contest with the AFA, so the fan-fair at West Point that final weekend should be second to none.

No matter where the team ends up in the conference standings. There are many reasons to make the trip to West Point to see the Knights’ put on their best. Kutztown, Penn State, Iona, and Air Force all on the home schedule this fall, give fans ample reasons to make a road trip to Army’s iconic campus overlooking the Hudson River.

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