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Both teams have legitimate hopes to challenge for the upper echelon of the league, which looks very competitive this season. Yale started working on their season a few weeks ago and have to be happy they start what is a tough fall season at home in New Haven.

“We have a really young team and large percentage of the players who will be starting are underclassmen,” said Yale Head Coach Jan Pikul.

With the Ivy League split into two halves, Yale is in the far tougher half, with Harvard, Dartmouth, and Brown.

“Basically, we will be rebuilding our team versus the Ivy League's best programs.”

Sobering news indeed.

But Yale does have some solid talent. Sophomore Joe Murdy looks good at flyhalf and junior Matt Lawlor does well at hooker or prop. Brothers Tim and Connor Brooks can help anchor the pack, although Tim is out injured at the moment. But in good injury news, senior Nick Lombardo comes back from shoulder surgery and cam play lock or No. 8.

Those forwards will be key to Yale’s fortunes, but they have backs, too. Captain and inside center John Lesnewich is new to the game, but has “great hands and vision. He took to the game quickly,” said Pikul.

Seniors Mack Hull at fullback and Dan O’Brien at wing will be expected to score their share of tries.

Is that enough to handle Brown? Hard to tell. Brown has seen a big turnover in their forward back, and have suffered some early injuries in the backs during preseason matches (wins against Albany and Norwich).

“We’ve thrown in some new systems that may take a while to get up and running,” said Brown Head Coach David LaFlamme. “Our success will lie in playing within our system.  If they are able to do that, then I expect to be competitive and finish in one of the top two spots in the Northern division of the Ivy league.” 

Laflamme is excited by his front row of Micah Baclig, Daniel Levine, and Everett Epstein, and he will be asking them to set the tone this weekend.

He will need the rest to follow.

“Ivy teams thrive on beating each other so it’s easy for teams to get up for these games,” said Laflamme. “I’m expecting each game to be a challenge.  With discipline and composure, we’ll be successful.”