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The four regional champions: Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA), Bethel College (Mishawaka, IN), Iowa Central Community College (Fort Dodge, IA) and Trinity College (Hartford, CT) met at Founders Field in Cheswick, PA on 22 April 2017 to start the weekend off with semifinal matches to determine which two teams would take the pitch in the championship match on Sunday, 23 April.
The following is a synopsis of the weekend’s matches with a full report available on our website at http://www.nscro.org/news.
In the first semifinal match, Bethel faced Trinity College. Unfortunately, Trinity had a number of spring injuries which reduced their squad to a total of 17 players. Nonetheless, Trinity came out firing on all cylinders. Although it was a close match, a last minute try by Bethel sealed their win with a score of 27 to 21.
The Sea Lions of Point Loma Nazarene University were making their return trip to the championship after losing in the 2016 final to Salem State University and were on a mission. Iowa Central Community College, a solid fledgling club with only two years of existence under head coach Brent Nelson, came to make their mark. And, make their mark they did! While it looked as though the Sea Lions were going to make another run at the championships, the Tritons’ reserve winger, Evian Akers, scored back-to-back tries in the last few minutes to help seal the match with a final score of 25 – 15.
The match between Trinity and Point Loma for third place on Sunday was dubbed by NSCRO president, Stephen Cohen, as his “favorite match of the Championship because it is a true test of what these young adults are made of.”
After Saturday’s physical encounter with Bethel, three of Trinity’s players were unable to lace up. With 14 players, the Bantams, led by captain Tucker Morgan, took to the field give Point Loma all they could handle. Early in the second half, Trinity lost another player to injury but that didn’t deter them from scoring two more tries against the Sea Lions. Although, Trinity lost the match, 49 – 17, they exemplified the true essence of rugby.
The championship match pitted two very physical teams – Iowa Central and Bethel College. Bethel was the first to put a score on the board which was quickly answered by the Tritons. The Pilots responded with another try and, again, the Tritons came back with one of their own. This back-and-forth play between Bethel and Iowa Central lasted the entire game. In the end, Bethel emerged on top with a final score of 30 – 21.
Ani Mteto of Iowa Central Community College was named MVP.
Inaugurated in the 2014-15 season, the NSCRO Challenge Cup was developed with a goal to further the growth of over 100 small college teams who are working hard to reach the top but have yet to find success at the NSCRO’s Champions Cup (which currently has over 200 teams in its playoff system). More information about the Challenge Cup can be found on our website at www.nscro.org/mens-challenge-cup.
The 2017 NSCRO Challenge Cup would not have a success without the support of many people and companies, including but not limited to:
The Pittsburgh Harlequins RFA for hosting our event at Founders Field; Matt Rosemeyer, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Harlequins RFA; Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co., NSCRO top sponsor; Rhino Rugby, the official equipment and ball supplier of NSCRO; Bill Krecker and Ed Baker; USA Rugby-appointed Referees, Brian Kelly and Jamie Miller; Mark Seaton, Tom Barr and the Allegheny RRS for providing assistant referees; match commentator, Mark Palmieri.
NSCRO thanks USA Rugby and Rich Cortez, USAR College Director, for their recognition and support of NSCRO as an independent organization and working together with us for bettering the collegiate rugby experience for all.