UMass rugby loses second straight against Boston College

By Henry Brechter

Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian
Shannon Broderick/ Daily Collegian

After three straight blowout wins to begin the season, the Massachusetts rugby club lost its second East Coast Rugby Conference game in a row over the weekend, falling to Boston College 39-20 Saturday in Boston.

Coming off a grueling 18-8 defeat against New England College two weeks ago, the Minutemen entered Saturday’s contest against the undefeated Eagles who are ranked third in the conference. The Eagles’ victory improved their record to 5-0 and allowed them to remain tied with American International atop the ECRC standings.

A lack of offensive production plagued UMass once again. The Minutemen managed just three tries in Saturday’s loss after scoring an average of 50 points in the previous four games.

Early on, the game was neck-and-neck. After a penalty against BC four minutes in put the ball on the five-meter line, UMass junior flanker Ben Brzoski scored the first try of the day on a pick and go. However, just four minutes later, the Eagles scored a try of their own. Missed conversion kicks by each team left the game tied 5-5 through the first 15 minutes.

Quick passing and a Minutemen miscue allowed BC to take an eight-point advantage in the following minutes, after scoring a try on a line-out and converting when a penalty was called after a UMass player dove over the ruck.

UMass answered soon after with a penalty conversion of its own, but another try for the Eagles created a 12-point deficit going into halftime.

Just a minute into the second half, Brzoski scored his second try of the game after Thomas Thekaekara set him up with a quick tap. A conversion by Joe Jenkins then cut the Eagles’ lead to 20-15.

After Brozski’s try, BC began to pull away. Two consecutive tries for the Eagles increased the lead to 12 and effectively put the game out of reach. Despite an electric 60-meter scoring run from senior outside center Mike Tarolli late in the game, BC outscored the Minutemen 19-12 in the second half to continue its streak of five consecutive victories to start the season.

“(Saturday) was a tough one,” senior inside center Matt Crush said Sunday night. But the captain was ready to move on from the loss and was confident in his team going forward.

“BC is definitely a top team in our league, but we went down there and they simply beat us,” Crush added. “We have a great group of guys, and with our experience, I don’t think these two losses will affect us as much as they would other teams.”

One of the areas UMass is eager to improve on is its offense, which needs to return to early-season form if the Minutemen want to return to its domination that was shown in the first three games of the season.

After a very promising start, UMass has slipped in the rankings over the last two weeks. A lack of offense and discipline with the ball has led to two losses in conference play, and those mistakes will need to be corrected if the Minutemen want to reach their goal of a conference title.

With a home game against Albany this Saturday followed by a match against top-seeded American International, UMass looks forward to more chances to put wins on the board.

“We just need to get back to playing within our system,” Crush said. “We will win by getting back to that, and we’ve been drifting away from it in recent weeks. Anyone can win in this league, and we’re looking forward to playing Albany this weekend.”

Saturday’s game against the Great Danes is set to begin at 1 p.m.

Henry Brechter can be reached at [email protected]