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In Empire DII action, Princeton handily defeated Monmouth 35-14 in Princeton, NJ yesterday. With the win, PAC moves to 5-1 and atop the New Jersey Empire division. Monmouth falls to 5-1 and second place.
Since the Empire GU restructured the conference this season, all the New Jersey squads will play a home-and-away schedule with one another. This week marked the start of the second half of conference play, and a rematch for Monmouth and Princeton. In their first matchup back in late August, Monmouth narrowly edged PAC 20-18. Prior to this weekend, the teams were 2-2 against each other in their last four matchups with Monmouth taking the last two tightly contested wins.
Monmouth jumped out to an early lead thanks to a well-executed chip and chase. Princeton responded with a penalty kick and a try of its own to take a 10-7 lead. Another penalty from PAC gave the Tigers a 13-7 lead, but a converted try gave shifted the lead back in favor of Monmouth. Right before the half, PAC added a third penalty, making it 16-14 at the break.
“It was a really back-and-forth first half. It was fast paced and it was hard hitting,” said Princeton captain and flanker, Chris Setlak. “Whenever you make a mistake, Monmouth jumps on it. If you leave the ball on the deck they are going to jump on it.”
PAC was able to make some adjustments in the second half and stymie a potent Monmouth offense. Princeton played primarily through its forwards in the second half. The PAC forwards played incredibly well as a unit with no single individual standing out.
“We kept breaking the gain line over and over and rucking right on top of our guys to maintain possession and keep clean ball,” said Setlak. “We were playing almost 12 man rugby keeping it inside.” Combined with the powerful running of newly acquired inside center Davonte Lewis-Jackson, it proved to be an excellent game plan.
With the win, PAC moves into first place thanks to securing a bonus point in the week one loss. Both Monmouth and PAC will make a push towards the playoffs.
“Since every team plays everybody twice, everyone in the league knows one another. We have to take it one week at a time,” Seltak commented. It will definitely be a league of continuous adjustments. Thankfully for PAC, the team is well coached by Paul Silverman and Tom Krump.
Selak credits a lot of the team’s success to the coaching staff and the combination of the youth development and experienced players. Rich Beck, one of the more experienced players, has been playing tremendously at flyhalf. At the same time, a bunch of the young guys have contributed to the team's success and been building up a very successful DIII squad. The youth have been able to learn from a bunch of old boys, including 64-year-old Mike Caz, who has not missed a game all season for the DIII squad.