The first real burst of winter blew into the Mid-Atlantic on Saturday as temperatures dropped and a strong southeastern wind wreaked havoc all day. This was the last weekend of play for most squads in the conference and they made their final statements of the fall.
Like last season, Rocky Gorge and the Norfolk Blues finished undefeated as the Division I frontrunners going to the spring. Each club completed their fall on Saturday and the battle for Division I may come down to the head-to-head match on April 6th.
Gorge’s loss in last season’s divisional championship remains the overwhelming driving factor this season. “It’s motivation at this point,” captain Nick Kuhl said. “Making Nationals is our goal and what that takes is playing good rugby. Let’s try to be better, harder, tougher, smarter rugby players and so far we are doing that. There is a lot of work to be done, everybody has a couple of months to reflect before we come back in the spring and make our run.”
Gorge ended its fall with a 54-19 victory over Baltimore-Chesapeake. Flyhalf Ben Cima, who recently signed with MLR’s Seattle Seawolves, turned in a banner performance going 7/7 on conversions and adding a try in the win. In three games with Gorge, Cima scored three tries, kicked 22 conversions and two penalties, and was third in total points in DI with 65.
As for Norfolk, the Blues defeated the Potomac Exiles, 31-27. Norfolk scored five tries including a pair from inside center Kristofer Wilson, but the game ball goes to the defense for holding off a surging Exiles attack late to win the game. In addition to the DI win, Norfolk’s DIII side won its southern playoff semifinal over Blackwater, 17-5, to advance in the Division III playoffs in the spring.
“Our biggest takeaway from this fall is the strength of our club culture,” Blues coach Chris Porter said. “We are keeping players in the club longer and picking new players as they move into the area. With the guys staying longer, it makes it easier to blend in the new players to our club.”
The other Division III South semifinal saw Virginia Beach pound Roanoke, 50-17. “We were very successful at exploiting their defensive gaps,” head coach Dave Greninger said. “We were so proud of the job our boys did. Everybody was dialed from the start and really wanted it. We stuck to our game plan and really had fun out there.”
In Women’s Division I, Philadelphia remained undefeated stretching its winning streak to four games with a 39-5 win over Charlotte. Philly dominated all game and almost had a shutout as Charlotte managed to score with two minutes left.
“We haven’t seen Charlotte before and were excited about the new competition,” captain Becca Fagan said. “We wanted to push from the first kickoff and get points on the board early. We really focused on executing our game plan, with both backs and forwards working together. This game was an absolute testament to how comfortable we are playing together and trust each other on the field.”
The only other women’s match was the Maryland Stingers’ Division III South 36-0 dismissal against NOVA. It was the Stingers’ third shutout in a row for a squad that prides itself on its defensive prowess.
“Our defense has been solid all season and has got better as the season went on,” coach Matt Hodgson said. “We have a veteran team who are making great decisions on the field and playing expansive rugby.”
Lastly in the crowded men’s Division III North, the surprise has been Media, who has gone from 1-7 a year ago to 6-0 in the North’s Blue division this season. Against a tough Reading club on Saturday, Media trailed by two points at the half. The defense stood tall in the second half and a pair of tries from Andrew Butkus and another from Ryan Gregory was all Media needed for the victory.
“Going into the match, we expected a very physical contest and Reading didn’t disappoint us,” coach Rick Van Luvender said. “Our defense keyed on Reading’s eightman, inside center, and one of the locks. We avoided counter-rucking in most situations and continuously met them on their side of the gain line… Containing those three was the key to our success… and the fitness level of Media proved to be the difference.”
|Schuylkill River Exiles||40||Pittsburgh Harlequins||12||Men – DI|
|Rocky Gorge Rugby||54||Baltimore-Chesapeake Brumbies||19||Men – DI|
|Potomac Exiles||27||Norfolk Blues||31||Men – DI|
|Northern Virginia Rugby||22||Washington Irish||8||Men – DI|
|Virginia Rugby||5||Raleigh Vipers||39||Men – DII-South|
|Frederick Rugby||14||Washington Irish D3||44||Men – DIII-Central|
|Severn River Rugby||31||West Potomac Beavers||5||Men – DIII-Central|
|Northern Virginia Rugby D3||14||Western Suburbs Rugby||15||Men – DIII-Central|
|Rocky Gorge Rugby D3||43||Baltimore-Chesapeake Brumbies D3||17||Men – DIII-Central|
|Hibernians Rugby||25||Harrisburg Rugby||12||Men – DIII-North|
|Philadelphia Gryphons||17||Jersey Shore Sharks||14||Men – DIII-North|
|Schuylkill River Exiles D3||5||Northeast Philadelphia Irish||38||Men – DIII-North|
|Media Rugby||22||Reading Rugby||7||Men – DIII-North|
|Roanoke Rugby||17||Virginia Beach Falcons||50||Men – DIII-South Semifinals|
|Norfolk Blues D3||17||Blackwater Rugby||5||Men – DIII-South Semifinals|
|Northern Virginia Rugby D3||0||Maryland Stingers||36||Women – DIII-South|
|Philadelphia Rugby||39||Charlotte Rugby||5||Women – DI East|