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The ECRC kicked off play this weekend with a pair of close games. Two-time defending conference champions AIC defeated a tough New England College team 29-21 and UCONN outlasted Albany 30-20.
The Yellow Jackets came into the game with a bit of uncertainty, as head coach Josh Macy left to take over the Lindenwood program. However, assistant coach Rob Guiry was tabbed as the Interim Coach, keeping some continuity for the program.
New England College got off to the better start, however, earning the first try for a 7-0 lead. Kurt Weaver answered for AIC but the Lions doubled their point total.
“New England College they always play us tough. They have a lot of athletes and they are very well coached,” Guiry said of NEC. “Having them first game of the season is never an easy thing. We definitely had to knock off some of the rust from the offseason.”
AIC responded once again, however, getting three tries fairly quickly. The Yellow Jackets took advantage of space out wide to take a two score lead at 24-14. Christian Adams proved to be a key substitution. The big winger had some hard charging inside runs, allowing AIC to exploit the space out wide.
“A big key to today’s game was moving the ball wide. I said over and over if we can move the ball wide on NEC we have a great opportunity. Nearly every time we moved it wide we scored,” said Guiry.
The try-scoring machine Jihad Khabir dotted down his second of the day to extend the lead to 29-14.
“Jihad is an athlete with a great step and once through the gain line it is off to the races. He is one of the best finishers in college rugby if you ask me,” Guiry said of his dynamic flyhalf.
NEC managed to get one more late score but ultimately fell 29-21. For the second consecutive year, the Presidents Trophy (the winner of the local derby gets the trophy) returns to AIC.
The other match this weekend featured a tight match between Albany and UCONN. The Huskies trailed 14-13 at halftime and a penalty from Albany early in the second half increased the deficit to four.
A penalty cut the lead back to one and the Huskies tallied two quick converted tries to take a 30-17 lead. Albany could only muster another penalty and the match ended 30-20. It was the fourth straight time UCONN defeated Albany.