BY BROOKE RENNA, EDITOR IN CHIEF
Susquehanna men’s rugby fell to Widener during the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union championship game, 36-5.
Senior fullback Sam Silknetter said: “It’s tough to make it to the finals again and come up short, but it’s not as though we came home empty-handed.”
He continued: “We finished second out of 14 teams in the EPRU, and we’ll probably finish as one of the top 20 teams in the nation again, which is certainly nothing to shirk about.”
For the majority of the first half, Susquehanna played a successful defensive game. It wasn’t until the 22nd minute that Widener was able to capitalize on a hole in Susquehanna’s defense and score the first try of the game.
For the rest of the half and into the second half, Widener continued to rally points, scoring a total of seven tries and one two-point conversion kick.
Senior wing Joey Ferraro said: “As soon as [they scored the first try], we broke down as a squad and became flustered. They kept the scoring rally going after that.”
He continued: “We came out playing a different type of rugby, rather than play our game, the way we play it. We had too many simple mistakes that were made and Widener was able to capitalize on us.”
Head Coach Jon Niles said that one of the most important things for the team to work on is counter-rucking. At this point he said it’s just recognizing when to counter ruck and when to head back onto defense.
Along with rucking, the team also recognized that they needed to apply more force while on defense and keep possession of the ball.
Sophomore hooker Chris Warden said: “I think that overall we could have done better in regards to offensive possession and tackling. We definitely made some improvements preparing for Widener during that week of practice, but in order to have kept the score closer we should have tackled them much better.”
Despite not scoring a try until late in the second half, Susquehanna kept their fighting spirit throughout the entire game, fighting for each moment.
Silknetter said: “The only real defining moment of the game for me was when Joey Ferraro scored our only try late in the second half. He fought hard for that try and scored it despite a serious injury. He showed a lot of guts and that summed up our performance I think; battered but not broken.”
This weekend, Susquehanna will travel to Cherry Hill, N.J., to compete against Montclair State with many of their starting players sitting out due to injuries.
The winner of the game will advance to the National Small College Rugby Sweet 16 Playoffs in Jacksonville, Fla., Mar. 29. Silknetter said, “If we stick to our system and fight through our injuries there’s no way they can stop us. We’ve worked too hard for this; it’s our year.”