June 08, 2018

The men’s rugby team finished fifth at the National Small College Rugby Organization’s (NSCRO) 7s National Championships in Philadelphia, Pa.

The team won two matches and lost two matches, both of which were to the two teams in the final.

In the first match of pool play, Susquehanna faced off against New Mexico Highlands University, the 2015 and 2016 7s national champion. Susquehanna came out of the gates quickly, building a 19-0 lead at half time, with a try from senior Matt Kaltenbach, of Rumson, N.J., and two from senior Cooper O’Connell, of Framingham, Mass. Susquehanna kept the pace in the second half, with junior Isayah Young-Burke, of New York City, N.Y., adding a try and Kaltenbach adding a second try for a 33-7 win by Susquehanna.

In the second match of pool play, Susquehanna faced off against The Claremont Colleges—ranked No. 2 in the country for 15 a-side rugby. Two tries from Claremont and a try by Young-Burke for Susquehanna saw Claremont with a 14-7 lead at halftime. Susquehanna’s defense didn’t hold in the second half and Claremont went on to a 36-7 victory.

Susquehanna needed a victory in the final match of pool play to reach the semi-finals. The team faced Salve Regina University—ranked No. 3 in the country this spring for 15 a-side rugby. Susquehanna started off very slow as Salve Regina built a 19-0 lead at the half. A furious second half effort to overcome the deficit was led by tries from Young-Burke, O’Connell and senior Eric Sayler, of Ramsey, N.J.

The effort fell just short as Salve Regina University pulled out a 24-21 victory to advance to the semi-finals.

On Sunday, Susquehanna matched up against the California Maritime Academy in the fifth-place match. Tries in the first half from O’Connell and sophomore Adam Morrow, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., gave Susquehanna 12-5 lead. A try from Young-Burke extended the lead to 17-5 with two minutes left. With 45 seconds left, Cal Maritime scored to make the lead 17 to 12. The final kickoff from California Maritime did not go the needed 10 meters, giving Susquehanna a quick tap and opportunity to kick the ball out of bounds to win the game.

Overall, the men’s rugby team finished the 7s rugby season ranked No. 5 out of 240 teams in the division (NSCRO).