Week 5 Update

Written By Ad-minion 002

It's already been a bit of a wild ride for the EGRL teams in 2024. With uncooperative weather and a few lineups being hit hard with injuries it's been a slow start for some...but not all.

Northern Division Goes to Aspetuck

With a 12-0 win over Downingtown at RugbyShowcase South (3/16) and a fairly dominant win over Play Rugby USA in early April (50-0), the final test for Aspetuck Valley was going to be in Morris on 4/13. 

As we've come to expect over the years, both teams were prepared to battle hard but off the opening whistle, it looked as if Aspetuck was a bit more ready, getting on the board early and often to take a 15-0 lead into halftime. Morris came back out with a renewed energy and looked the part of a legit contender in the second half generating 2 tries and 1 conversion to bring the score within 3. Although they couldn't complete the rally as the ensuing kick off went to Aspetuck who was able lock things down with a a final run at the posts and, after the conversion, secure the Northern Division with a 22-12 F (watch on YouTube here). Over the full 40 minutes the game had the fireworks we've come to expect when these two squads meet and with as many as 3 more potential meetings (Gonzaga Tourney, HS Nationals and EGRL Playoffs if Morris can secure the wildcard) this year, we expect it to continue to be a battle. 

In day 2 of the divisional series, Downingtown traveled to Morris with a very capable side. Coming off a close loss to PA State frontrunner (Knightmares), the stats suggested the game could go either way. On this day however, Morris looked ready to play from the jump and was able to pressure Downingtown early using fast recycling and ball movement to put 14 on the board in the first half. In the second half Downingtown found traction and momentum but couldn't quite find the end goal until the waning minutes leaving the final at 24-7 in favor of Morris. While it seems Morris is likely still well within the conversation in the wild-card, time will tell as they'll need to get by Play Rugby USA in May.

Central Division - Still Up For Grabs

In the central division things are a bit less clear than we thought they'd be at this point. With a late season snow in Corning, NY canceling the first scheduled meet-up (West Carroll and Doylestown with Corning in a Tri-match) all teams were still at blank sheet status in the divisional standings. That all changed in Aberdeen this weekend when West Carroll and Corning traveled to North Bay for a busy weekend of rugby that went down roughly inline with predictions.

In Divisional Game 1 - West Carroll was able to control the scoring and come out on top with a 40-0 score line over Corning. Match reports in blue italics:

"As expected from most West Carroll contests, it was tough running from Rebecca Balladares, Layla Cox, Kathryn O'Boyle and a solid supporting cast that kept Corning on their back foot.  The Corning players worked hard to slow down the West Carroll offense, but the incremental line breaks were too much to overcome.  The score wasn't reflective of the high work ethic and tenacity of the Corning side who never gave up.  West Carroll didn't travel with a lot of reserves, but had quite the impressive showing on the day.  They're a tough, physical side that will always put pressure from a number of different positions.  For all those that play them, tackling practices better precede the match."

In Divisional Game 2 - North Bay and Corning battled with the hosts able to hold on for the victory. The onsite reporter put it this way:

In the first matrix match of the season for both teams, it was a close contest between North Bay and Corning.  The high winds made passes and catches tough throughout the match.  It took both teams a good 10 minutes or so to settle into a groove and make headway offensively.  While the first half ended with a North Bay 15-5 lead, the match was more even than than that score shows.  In the second half, Corning found a more consistent groove, won the second half, but not [by] enough to overcome the first half deficit.  Stars of the match from the North Bay side were Anne Heuttel (3 try, 1 conversion) and Ellie Lysse (2 try) with an honorable mention to Greta Giese (1 try) and playing out of her normal flyhalf slot.

Corning will travel to Doylestown on 4/21 and North Bay, West Carroll and Doylestown will meet up on 5/5 to settle the central division.

Southern Division - A Big Clash to Settle It

The Southern Division has been on a lull after the Rugby Showcase South event at Guilford with the "official match" between the two frontrunners (Charlotte and Clayton+RRH) scheduled for 4/27. However, fans might get BOTH a preview of where things stand this weekend at the Gonzaga Tourney (DC Area) where both teams will be pushing for some hardware along with other divisional leaders and contenders (Aspetuck, North Bay and Morris).

While it WON'T officially be settled until the 4/27 matchup, we expect all of these teams to be pushing hard as all EGRL matchups (including cross divisional friendlies) count toward the wildcard race and will undoubtedly influence our Q2 take on the EC Top 20 (look for it in the next 2 weeks).

Cross Divisional Games & The Wildcard Race

As it stands right now, Morris leads the wildcard race because all 3 teams sitting above them are still in contention for their divisional championship. A cross divisional win against Corning (49-7) on 4/6 provides them a boost and means the North Bay v Morris game at Gonzaga during pool play will matter.

For their part, North Bay and West Carroll each got a boost claiming W's against southern division squad Vienna. 

Snippets from match reports as available are listed in blue italics below.

Morris v. Corning

This was a well played match where the score was not an indication of the competitiveness. It was a story of one team capitalizing and taking advantage of its opportunities and the other team failing to capitalize due to a combination of unforced errors and excellent defense. 

Morris got on the board first in the match in what would become a theme throughout. Corning's perimeter defense was solid in not allowing the big play and not allowing lost distance tries but the power of the Morris players on the outer thirds of the field were too much for Corning to handle consistently. 

Corning never relented and made Morris work throughout the match and was able to take advantage of some line breaks by their centers to get them down near the Morris tryline and after many well worked phases and displaying patience, Corning was awarded its first try of the match. 

Players noted for strong performances included the center pair for Corning (Close-12, Hadlock-13) along with others who made strong efforts (Creath, Ceralde and Stephens) wearing blue. For Morris notable performances came from Moroney (2), Mignone (10) and Ball, C (7). 

West Carroll v. Vienna

Vienna and West Carroll met under the lights in the encore match following the DC Old Glory and RFCLA MLR match at the Maryland Soccer Plex.  Vienna opened up the scoring quickly after kickoff with Captain Natalie Allen going over and adding the conversion to take a 7-0 lead.  Rebecca Balladares put West Carrol on the board with an unconverted try to make it 7-5.  The Marauders backline would take over with hard charging runs and great support play.  Fly-half Josie Schussler would score twice, with Balladares adding a conversion, to give the Marauders a 17-7 lead at the break.

Balladares would pickup the attack following the break, converting her own score to go up 24-7 early in the second half.   Vienna would not give up though with Zoe Tate going over for an unconverted score to cut the lead to 24-12.  West Carrol was able to reset and extend the lead with scores by Kathryn O'Boyle, Nicah Harrison, and Carolyn Melody to seal the 39-12 victory.  Special thanks to Old Glory and Ben Cima as well as match sponsors ECS. 

Up Next

Look out next week for our second take at the EC Top 20...