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The race after three weeks in Chesapeake Collegiate Rugby Conference is incredibly close. Eight of the nine teams have at least one win and only Mary Washington and Virginia Tech are still unbeaten. In week three, Virginia Tech edged Mount St. Mary’s 22-20 and Mary Washington cracked Salisbury, 34-7, to remain undefeated. Georgetown and Towson both picked up their first wins with victories over Virginia and Maryland, respectively.
Commenting on the parity and competitiveness of the conference, Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jay Myles said, “One of the most incredible things about this conference is every weekend is a challenge. When we first got together as coaches over the summer, this is exactly the type of competition we were looking each week challenging our players to become better.”
Conference commissioner and Georgetown head coach Scott Zavrel added, “We are very excited with the direction we are going with this new conference. I am very happy that three of the four victories this weekend were all decided within five points. I think it’s going to be the norm going forward.”
Coach Myles had his hands full on Saturday when his Mountaineers traveled south to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. After back-to-back wins over Georgetown and James Madison, the Mount ran into an obstacle it couldn’t get over in the end. In a battle until the last whistle, Virginia Tech came back in the final minutes to win 22-20.
The forwards were the weapons on offense for the Hokies and head coach Paul Caron said, “Our key to defeat such a good team like this would be stopping their backs which we thought were their strongest part and their eightman. Once we put a stop on Travis [Bewley], they would have to work through the backs more. We worked with our defensive scheme this week to prepare for their centers, who are their biggest threats.”
Virginia Tech was first on the board when freshman eightman Ieuan Israel scored on the Hokies first drive. The Mount responded with a penalty by Tito Miranda, but the Hokies’ Nathan McCune scored the next two tries to extend the lead to 17-5. To close out the half, the Mountaineers’ freshman Brandon Johnson took an offload from Travis Bewley 70 meters for a try. The Hokies led 17-10 at the half.
Using the momentum from the long range try, the Mount took the lead with a penalty and a second Bewley to Johnson connection for a score. Up 20-17, the Mount held the lead until the last three minutes of the game.
In those final few minutes, the clubs exchanged penalties back and forth, but Virginia Tech got into Mount territory with a kick to touch. After a few phases, the Hokies were awarded a penalty and a quick tap found the defense unready and Kelly Fernandi scored the game-winner.
“It was a back and forth match,” Mount head coach Myles stated. “Our handling skills really let us down and to their credit, they capitalized on our errors and that’s what makes them a great team. They scored a try in the last three minutes of the match and we had the two opportunities in their 10-meter line in the final three minutes and their defense held stout. We couldn’t find a way to finish the match, their defense just held fast.”
With Salisbury still searching for its first win and Mary Washington defeating Towson last week, the Mothers hosted the Sharks in Fredericksburg, Va. Mary Washington took advantage Salisbury’s youth and inexperience to score 34 straight points to win the game, 34-7. The Mothers jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead as Terence McPhillips and Andrew Lamarca exposed the defense for scores. The Mary Washington defense shut down the Sharks as Salisbury couldn’t muster much of an offensive threat in the half.
The second half began much like the first with two quick tries in ten minutes for Mary Washington. This sequence was highlighted by a 50 meter breakaway by George Northwood. A third Mothers’ try put the match out of reach, but Salisbury never gave up. Just before the final whistle, the Sharks dotted down a try to avoid the goose egg.
“UMW was able to follow their pattern of attack a bit more than last week versus Towson,” said Mary Washington head coach Min Sae Chae. “Less knock-ons, better decision making, and cleaner breakdowns were key factors for their success.”
Georgetown welcomed the University of Virginia to its homecoming Friday night in Washington, D.C. In front of a big crowd, the Hoyas earned their first victory in the Chesapeake, 23-19. Georgetown didn’t play to its ability in the first half as the Cavaliers took a 19-10 lead into the half. The Hoyas got back on track in the second half and scored 13 unanswered points to win by four.
“We started out slow and lackadaisical in the first half,” Georgetown head coach Scott Zavrel said. “UVA capitalized on some of our mistakes, including an interception try. They got down 10-19 score at half. We were able to slot some penalty goals and get some momentum off of that... We were able to settle our gameplan down and dominate the second half. I am very happy with the outcome, but we have a lot of work to go.”
Coach Zavrel added, “Inside center Chen Han stepped up to really be a defensive addition to silence their backs. Our forwards played tough throughout the game, but once we were able to suffocate their offensive attack, we got some momentum after slotting some penalties.”
After losing its first two games, Towson defeated Maryland, 13-12, in a hotly contested match that came down to a missed conversion at the end. Defense was key to Towson’s victory as head coach Don Stone said, “Our forwards defense, their work effort, their work rate was the best we’ve had in the last couple of weeks... The forwards carried the match, no much offensively but they played excellent defense to Maryland’s credit. The forwards’ willingness to take on the big players over and over again and stop them behind the gain line for 80 minutes is absolutely why we won the game.”
Towson began the match with a penalty by Kevin Heine and was followed by a try by fullback Timmy Shields for the 8-0 advantage. Maryland cut the lead to 8-5 at the half. Shields scored a second try by moving the ball wide and the tally stayed at 13-5 for much of the second half.
The Terps battered the Towson defense for much of the half and Maryland finally broke through at the very end. Coach Stone described his squad’s defensive effort and the end of match saying, “The defense just stood tall and took those guys. At one point, they were inside our 10 for three or four minutes. It’s pretty hard to stop a good team with a big pack for that long. They scored with three minutes left to cut it to 13-12 and missed the conversion five meters to the right of the goalpost. We dodged a bullet, but being on the other end of those, we’re happy with the win.”
This weekend, Georgetown is at James Madison, Mary Washington travels to Mount St. Mary's, Maryland hosts Virginia Tech, and the rivalry match, Towson is at Salisbury.