Maggie Flaherty ’20
Holy Cross rugby (3-1-1) impressed Family Weekend spectators last Friday, October 27, with an 11-try performance against Bryant University (3-2-0). Plenty of friends and family braved the cold temperatures to support HCRFC for its 9:30 p.m. match at Father Kuzniewski Field, and they witnessed a true annihilation of Bryant’s club. After the first half, Holy Cross had already established a significant lead over Bryant, 33-9. The Crusaders continued their rout of Bryant in the second, scoring 40 more points for a comfortable final score of 73-9. The win solidified the Crusaders as the #16-ranked rugby team in the nation per the National Small College Rugby Organization Coaches Poll.
Holy Cross’ overpowering fitness and hustle proved indefensible to Bryant; many Crusader scoring opportunities resulted from outrunning Bryant’s defense. The Crusaders’ dominant performance was bolstered by 3 tries each from senior Billy Coughlin and freshman Jack Swords. Holy Cross’ lead was solidified further with 2 tries from senior Chris Pusatere. Senior Billy Connors, sophomore Matt Anticev, and freshman Jack Tessier also evaded Bryant’s defense to contribute one try each in the match and ensure the Holy Cross win. Connors also completed 6 conversion kicks to get additional points for the Crusaders. Coughlin and first-year Riley McGeady contributed additional points, with McGeady completing two conversion kicks and one from Coughlin.
The Crusaders also exhibited a formidable defensive presence throughout the match. They overpowered Bryant in the majority of scrums to retain solid possession. Bryant’s 9 points came only from three penalty kicks, and the HCRFC defense did not let up a single try in the entire 80 minutes of play. Holy Cross successfully shut out Bryant in the second half and closed the match with 40 unanswered points in the second period.
The week prior to the Bryant match, Holy Cross had another impressive showing in a draw against first place Eastern Connecticut State University (4-0-1). The Crusaders capitalized on their speed again in that match, outrunning ECSU for a three try lead for most of the second half. However, ECSU staged a comeback late in the second half of the match to tie Holy Cross.
The Crusaders have a week of practice to reflect on the positives and negatives of their past matches. They look forward to the New England Small College Rugby Organization playoffs this upcoming weekend. Holy Cross faces undefeated U-Maine Farmington (5-0-0) the night of Saturday, November 3, in an elimination game at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. The Crusaders have history with Farmington; Saturday’s game is a rematch of last year’s conference final, where Holy Cross fell 36-19 after an undefeated regular season. U-Maine Farmington currently stands as the #5-ranked team nationally. If Holy Cross is victorious against Farmington, the Crusaders will hope to take the conference championship crown on Sunday against the winner of the Colby College-Eastern Connecticut State University matchup.