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The third qualifier tournament of the Mid-Atlantic takes
place at Slug 7s Saturday in Columbia, Md., after which the seeds for the
MARFU championship tournament will be set.
In third place is Schuylkill River, though they haven’t lost a game in MARFU competition, yet. They didn’t play in the Richmond, Va. qualifier, but won in Wilmington, Del. Schuylkill, led by still-in-top-form Greg Ambrogi, beat the first-place Maryland Exiles twice in Delaware and are the favorites in Maryland.
The Exiles haven’t yet put their full team together. In Virginia, the likes of Trevor Tanifum, Matias Cima and Alfred Qaranivalu didn’t play. They did in Delaware, but Iosaia Luka did not. This weekend, Luka is back but Qaranivalu is not. And several guys are banged up from playing with other teams at Cape Fear last weekend.
Still, the Exiles should be in the mix for a championship this weekend.
“We feel pretty good about our speed one through seven. It’s just a matter of coming together and playing as a team and learning game by game and tournament by tournament,” Exiles coach Chris Harvey said.
In order to get over the hump, Maryland needs to knock off Schuylkill.
“You have to learn to win big games, and I think that’s where we are right now,” continued Harvey.
“They’ve got more maturity than we do, but we’ve got a bit more maturity and experience this weekend. We’ve got Owen Lentz and Iosia, which gives us some of that. We’ve got a lot of youth and a lot of speed and a lot of athletic talent, but we need the forwards like Iosia and Owen to bring that experience for all 14 minutes.”
Norfolk, which currently sits in second place in the MARFU, is also young, but led by the very experienced Ed Stockunas. The Blues will be missing a few guys this weekend due to unavailability, but have proven they’re competitive this summer.
“Schuylkill and Maryland right now are setting themselves up to be the top two teams, but we don’t feel we’re that far behind,” said Norfolk’s Chris Porter. “We play together as a team and do what we need to do defensively, I think we’ll have a good chance of upsetting one of those teams.”
Norfolk would love to qualify for Nationals, and a good showing at Rocky Gorge could make that a realistic possibility, as a top seed could get them a fairly well paved road to the MARFU final, but that’s not what this season has been solely about.
“I think this year our real goal was to play competitive 7s, to get back on track where it used to be where every weekend we had a chance to win. When we were playing with the old NOVAs and Marylands and back when PAC and Washington were top teams, we were playing right there competitive with them,” said Porter.
“It’s a building process, but the good thing this year is three-quarters of our team are under 25-years-old, and we’re getting them excited about playing competitive 7s.”
Slug 7s Lineup
MD Exiles I
Rocky Gorge I
Schuylkill River Black
MD Exiles II
Severn River I
Kenya Exiles RFC
Washington Irish I
Schuylkill River White
Rocky Gorge II
Mason Dixon Pirates
Team Plug Ugly
Washington Irish II
Severn River II
West End old Boys
Hampton Roads Elite