UConn, NU Win, Look To Matchup, Liberty Challenge

UConn and Northeastern have done enough to make it a winner-take-all game in the Liberty Conference's New England Division between the two sets of dogs next week.

Connecticut beat visiting Rhode Island 37-30 in conference action on Saturday, improving to 4-0 in the division. Northeastern is right there with UConn, beating Tufts 39-17 at home. Neither performance was especially dominant, but the Huskies and Maddogs are now in position to play each other next week for the division title.

NU Forwards Finish It Late

Northeastern struggled in the first half, getting in penalty trouble and letting Tufts dictate terms. The game was tied 17-17 at the break. But, as has been the story for the Maddogs this season, NU's forward started to punch holes in the defense in the second half.

Northeastern's backs took advantage, and tries from Ryan Crowe, Lowell Haska, and Liam Taylor put the game away for the Maddogs.

UConn Tested At Home

UConn had even more of a struggle against Rhode Island. The Huskies led 19-13 at halftime thanks to two tries from No. 8 James Courtnet and a try and two conversions from flyhalf Chris Mao. But URI took the lead early in the second half with a converted try. Prop Connor Elliot helped UConn reply by setting up hooker Austin Toback, who burst through a gap for a try under the posts. Mao converted and added two penalties for a 32-20 lead.

Flanker Adam Angelucci's 25-meter gallop for a try seemed to put it away at 37-23, but URI made a game of it.

"We knew this be tough game going in with some good, hard-running URI forwards/backs," UConn coach Bob Merola said. "We managed to tie down the win with a great defensive effort (in the) last 15 minutes of game."

For UConn, a team that didn't win a game three years ago, to be able to play for a division championship and then play in an important postseason game at the Liberty Challenge is a victory in itself.

New Husky Culture

"We’re pretty excited about where we’re going," Merola said. "We've got about 60 players, and we've only got six seniors. We're young and we're developing. Our second side is undefeated. But it took a while to change the culture and to learn how to win. The kids are just more focused, and it shows. We're getting more attention from kids in Connecticut, more recruits."

The new mindset — taking the game more seriously — has been led by Mao and Joe Phillips and has spilled over to the fans. For Merola, a UConn graduate, it's refreshing.

Also In The Liberty

Fordham beat Rutgers 22-14 to finish 3-1 in the I-95 Division, securing second behind 4-0 Iona. Fordham was led by Parker Lynch, who was strong on defense and scored two tries, and Logan McIntrye, who reeled off several long runs. Cortland has already sewn up the Empire with a 5-0 record.  

Big Games Still Left

Northeastern and UConn meet next week for the New England title, and then two weeks after those teams are expected to be part of the Liberty Challenge, which will see a series of crossovers among the Liberty teams.

"We were hoping to finish our season playing for something and we are," Merola said. "And with the [Liberty Challenge] we get to play out of our division and see a different style of play. It's the first time we've participated, and it's something we're very excited about."

Watch the Liberty Challenge LIVE on FloRugby on Nov. 18


Liberty - EmpireWLTPFPAPDBTBLPTS
Cortland500161561055025
Binghamton410238581804020
Syracuse320153106473015
Albany23085161-762010
Colgate14090177-87004
Brockport05072211-139000










Liberty - I-95WLTPFPAPDBTBLPTS
Iona400268482204020
Fordham31095110-151013
Delaware220107152-453011
Stony Brook13078141-63116
Rutgers04068159-91000










Liberty - New EnglandWLTPFPAPDBTBLPTS
Northeastern400157561014020
UConn40017687894020
Tufts220101136-353011
UMass13089114-25217
Rhode Island140120148-28217
Fairfield14091193-102217

Saint Mary's Defense Shuts Down Navy In Annapolis

Ronan Murphy: The Big Body On Saint Mary's

Saint Mary's put in an impressive defensive effort to defeat the US Naval Academy 20-7 Saturday in Annapolis.

Samurai PRP Player of The Week: Stephen Karas, Glendale Merlins

The Samurai PRP Player of The Week goes to Glendale Merlins prop Stephen Karas in a classic PRP shootout victory over Santa Monica.

BYU Edges CWU In Dramatic Thursday Night Clash

In a meeting of two highly-ranked D1A teams, the independent Central Washington Wildcats were edged out by the Rocky Mountain Conference champion BYU Cougars 24-17 Thursday night in Provo.

2019 Sorensen Award Nominees Named

The nominees for the MA Sorensen Award for the top women's college player in the country have been released.

Socino: Calcutta Cup Memories

The Six Nations finale surpassed everybody’s wildest dreams in terms of entertainment.

Two Top-Five Clashes Highlight D1A Weekend

New USA Callup Duncan Van Schalkwyk

Make sure you visit FloRugby at 1PM Central Time on March 31 to see a panel of four unveil the D1A Rugby playoff bracket, and there are plenty of seeding questions to be answered in the coming weeks.

Scholz Award Nominees Released

The nominees for the Rudy Scholz Award have been released.

Five Major Nations In Women's Super Series In San Diego

SAN DIEGO, CA. - USA Rugby will host the Women’s Rugby Super Series from June 28 to July 14, bringing together the world’s top five teams for a round-robin tournament spanning five competition dates in the greater San Diego area.

A New-Look D1 Elite Semis This Weekend

Lindenwood's Joyce Taufa Gets Eagle Nod

This weekend the top four women's D1 college teams playing 15s this spring face off in the D1 Elite semifinals: Why so early? Why just four of them? Why all alone? We'll tell you.

So Long Sunwolves

Japan's ground-breaking Sunwolves team are set to be axed from Super Rugby, a report said on Wednesday, as the governing body prepared to make an announcement about the competition's future.