Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Keystone Week 3 Recap

By Brendan Triplett

The conference was booming in gameplay as we finished up week three of the KRC Championship Series and everyone locked up their placement for the quarterfinals starting next week.  Before we jump into our big game between Villanova and West Chester, let’s look at how things panned out for the rest of the conference.

Saint Jo’s and Pittsburgh.  This was the game to watch as the two powerhouses faced off for supremacy and the ability to maintain that elusive undefeated title.  Saint Jo’s looked incredibly strong and going into the second half they looked like they were going to run away with it after a try in the corner pushed SJU ahead to 21-5.  However, Pitt finally got their legs under them and started to work out the weaknesses in the team.  With the boot of Christian Quiros being near perfect they broke down SJU and brought the score within 2 points before Jimmy Wolfer edged SJU ahead in what would be the deciding points for the team.  Pitt fought hard to bring the score back within two but in the end it wasn’t enough and the missed conversion in the first half turned out to be Pitt’s undoing.  SJU gained the division championship title, maintained a perfect undefeated season, and gained even more momentum moving into the match on October 22nd against Villanova.  Final Score 28-26.  Point scorers for SJU: Jimmy Wolfer and Noa Niu.  Point scorers for PITT: Chris Johnson, Tom Brunt, Michael Dunleavy, Noble Smith, and Christian Quiros.

Take the jump to read more.

Rutgers faced off against Temple in what also turned out to be as close of a game as it is every season.  With two points making the difference in this division championship game Rutgers pulled up from a behind for the win.  The match was a battle of quick ball handling from Temple, as is their MO, and aggressive action on the ball from Rutgers.  Attritional rugby from the onset the first half ended with Temple having the upper hand by only 5 points.  In the second half play opened up with Glen Johnson closing the gap for Rutgers but the missed conversion placed the two sides even for almost the entirety of the rest of the match.  Jamil Pollard changed the game near the end of the second half running through the defense and trotting in to touch down, extending Rutgers lead to 10.  A great kick from Mike Nezgoda put the nail in the coffin and Rutgers left the pitch as division champions as they ramp up for their quarterfinal match against Lock Haven University.  Final Score 12-10.  Point scorers from Rutgers: Glen Johnson, Jamil Pollard, and Mike Nezgoda.

What arguably became one of the best matches of the weekend was the matchup between Millersville and Lock Haven.  Both teams have suffered this season from troubling losses with final scores that just couldn’t show the effort and heart each team put into each match.  This was a match that let them shine.  With a final score of 52-29,  Millersville got a chance to rack up a win and Lock Haven got a chance to get some experience on the field and some much needed celebration time in the try zone.  Under the command of a new head coach and playing at home on Brookes Field in Millersville PA.  The boys from MU put on a show.  Amazing tries from several players and even an impressive hat-trick from team President Drew Stauffer set the team up for success.  We also can’t forget the 6 successful conversions from Kyle Schory, proving time after time why he is the man to kick to the posts.  Millersville looked stronger than ever and finally seemed to be catching their stride.  We look forward to seeing them face off against rival West Chester next week in the quarterfinals.  Try scorers for Millersville: Paul Sommerville, Dan Falcon, Steve Lapp, Dan Kelly, Connor Whitman, Drew Stauffer (3), and Kyle Schory.

Now for out spotlight match with West Chester facing off against Villanova.  There was a lot of tension going into this match.  Villanova looked to redeem themselves against a tough Temple loss last week and West Chester needed to catch a win to get decent placement for the quarterfinals and to end the season in good form.  As the teams took the field (Matlack Field), the home of West Chester rugby, the rain began to come down and temperature began to drop.  In short, it was a great day for some hard-hitting rugby and the boys didn’t disappoint.

The first half of the match turned the game into a battlefield.  West Chester, traditionally slower in getting their engine roaring, let Villanova control the pitch for almost 30 minutes before getting their hands on the ball and finding something to do with it.  Villanova slotting a penalty from the boot of James Lyons and a great follow-on try from Tim Plante set the game up for what looked to be a real knocker.  Through an onslaught of knock-ons and off-sides calls the boys in purple and gold managed to scramble away from an 8-point unanswered deficit to end the half 19-8 with back to back tries from Ryan Morley, one of which was a beautiful superman flight into the try zone, a push-in score from John King, and 2/3 conversions from Vinny Fortino.

In the second half, Villanova had some inspiration handed off to them from their head coach, Jack Foley, and they took to the pitch like men possessed smashing into the West Chester line and pushing them back and forth across the pitch.  West Chester for their part felt the pressure and then promptly turned up the heat.  Tries poured in from their inspired offense and John King, Anthony Pugliese, and Joey Hagan left Villanova wanting.  Vinny Fortino added to the score and ended the day 3/7 from the boot.

Coach Foley said this about the match, “They boys are getting better, they are working at practice and at play and it is showing.  There were just too many mistakes.  We are working on fundamentals with tackles and the set pieces.  We are getting better every week and we have some games left to show how we are growing.”  The score just can’t show the effort that the boys in blue were putting out in this match and the control that they mustered during the first half.  Scrappy rugby kept West Chester from scoring even more and the “never quit” attitude pushed the Villanova boys to perform as they held up at least two tries in the zone.  It was a sight and Villanova walks away upset from the score but proud of the growth and experience gained from the matchup.

Ultimately, Villanova could not get the ball going again in the second half and the final was 41-8 with West Chester taking the win, improving their standings to 2-1 and preparing themselves for a match next week against Millersville again at home at Matlack field.

Coach Haglid was happy with the score but knows his team needs to have less errors on the ball and they need to get themselves turned into second-half players during the first half of the match.  He said this, “It all comes down to mindset, we have work to do on our rugby mindset and to get our killer instinct from the get go.  We need to start from the first minute.  I take my hat off to the Villanova they played hard and did really well.  We look forward to playing Millersville next week to settle the score and hope that if anyone is looking to start at a school with a great program that they check us out.”  This is sound advice as the program is growing and the team is becoming more and more competitive every year.  Next week will have a tough match against Millersville but it will be at home for WCU and they are bringing their game faces to advance through the quarterfinals.

If you missed the match, check it out on my YouTube at ‘Brendan Triplett’ and as always, Ruck on!

Quick Recap of Week 3
SJU v PITT 28-26
RU v TU 12-10
VU v WCU 41-8
MU v LHU 52-29

Upcoming Quarterfinal Matchups
10/15 Millersville vs West Chester (Home)
10/15 Temple vs Pittsburgh (Home)
10/15 Lock Haven vs Rutgers (Home)
10/22 Villanova vs Saint Joseph’s (Home)

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