By Ray Duffy
Looking to repeat the success it found in the 2017 season in another playoff run, the Saint Vincent men’s rugby team began its fourth season as a club sport this fall.
The men began their season on Sept. 15 with a friendly non-conference game, beating the Greensburg Area RFC men’s team 69-57 with scores by Dom Georgiana, Garrison Cullen, Tre Telfort, and others to become the Ligonier Highland Games champions.
Cullen, a sophomore and first-year player, said he wasn’t too sure what to expect from his first college rugby game. It was a tough game, he said, due to the heat and the opposition’s experience.
“The fact that we were playing against people as old as my dad added a whole different factor,” Cullen stated.
“But with the skills from the old heads on our team and our endurance throughout the whole match, we came through with the win.”
Conference play began when the Bearcats traveled to Grove City College on Sept. 28, taking the initial lead with a try by Drew Speraw, with scores by Telfort and Jared Holmes following. The lead was traded between the teams multiple times, but the Grovers eventually won 26-17 in a tough loss for Saint Vincent.
Kris Kell, a senior wing, said that while it was a hard match and he wishes the outcome could have been different, it was still a solid first game considering how many people were playing for the first time.
“Our new guys especially demonstrated a lot of physicality in the scrum and rucks,” Kell said. “Knowing what we have to adjust going into the rest of the season, I think Grove City should be worried when we meet them in again in the playoffs.”
Looking to come back from the defeat at Grove City, the Bearcat men won a resounding 44-10 victory over Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona campus under the lights on Homecoming weekend. Tries by Lance Fenumiai and Holmes and two by Telfort sealed the Bearcat victory – the only home win for a men’s sport on Homecoming weekend.
Senior Lou Borelli credited team captain Drew Speraw for the win, saying that he made good decisions throughout the game, especially when he twice chose to kick for points early on to go up 6-0.
“Overall, we need to work on some aspects of the game, but our offense finally clicked and if we can lock down our defense, the rest of the conference should be worried,” Borelli stated.
On Oct. 11, the team traveled to Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh to face off against the Point Park Pioneers. Scores by Noah Hannah, Wayne Johnson, Thomas Sibal, and two by Dom Doyle contributed to a Bearcat blowout of the Pioneers 63-7.
“It was a well-played game by the Bearcats,” Speraw said. “Ball possession was a huge factor to the success of our team. It showed by the final score. We shut them out defensively and our offense was played at our pace which escalated to the 63 points on the scoreboard.”
With the win over Point Park, the Bearcats clinched a spot in the Silver Division playoffs within the Three Rivers Conference and will play at Grove City College for the chance to advance. The match is at 1 pm on Oct. 26, at Grove City’s intramural fields located at 50 Pinchalong Rd., Grove City PA.