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Contrast of Styles in ACRL Matchup

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Contrast of Styles in ACRL Matchup

A clash of styles highlights the Atlantic Coast Rugby League this weekend when Maryland takes on Virginia Tech Saturday.

While Clemson is looking to push to a 3-0 record against NC State on Friday, the game of perhaps greater interest is the Terps v Hokies clash on Saturday. Maryland is 2-0, having scored 164 points to zero in their two league games. Their approach seems to be mostly about an overpowering offense. Meanwhile Va Tech is 1-0 having beaten North Carolina 14-0. Their approach is about defense.

“Defense is a major focus for us,” said Va Tech Head Coach Bill Whalen. “We have been preaching playing patient defense and taking opportunities when they arise since day one, and it seems the guys are really starting to buy into it.” 
Meanwhile Maryland has been scoring a ton, and even did so when they sat freshman flyhalf and kicking machine Ben Cima.

“Our play has been very strong the last few weeks,” said Head Coach Jeff Soeken. “We have a very strong backline, but, in my opinion, our 2nd row and back row upgrades are going to be the difference between this fall and last. We are able to get a solid lineout and a good platform to attack from.”

Leading the way for Maryland, then, has been the Cima brothers and scrumhalf Josh Marotske in the backline, and, more importantly, the likes of John Brucia, Andrew Butler, and Parker Ambree up front. Embree stepped in at hooker to replace the injured Guy Lopresti and has grasped the challenge with both hands. At No. 8, Joe Wheln has been, said Soeken, “excellent.”  

For Virginia Tech, they have some good back-rowers, too. Zach Schiemann was very strong in all aspects of play against North Carolina, making tackles and creating attacking opportunities. He also made it over the line twice, but each time the play was called back.

Lock Chris Shirron has been a pest as a lineout defender, disrupting opposition throws on a regular basis. Out wide, wing Evan Christian showed well in his A-side debut, and scored a try.

“Offensively there are certainly more things to work on, but we are close,” said Whalen. “Things are beginning to click in early phases, however we are not quite consistent enough in many cases to finish off with a try in our opponents' 22.  I'm very happy with the team in general, and I believe we are headed in the right direction.”

This will be a massive test for both teams. Maryland has to see how they handle not having the ball all the time and having to face a committed, physical defense. Va Tech will not find it any easier to convert pressure into points, and will have to avoid those try-killing penalties.

Both teams have started well, but maybe the start ends here.