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Empire Conference Looks Tight After Week 1

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Empire Conference Looks Tight After Week 1

Defending Empire Conference champs Syracuse edged up-and-coming Fordham this past weekend 20-12 in the opening weekend of conference play.

That result, along with Stony Brook’s 17-15 over SUNY Binghamton and Colgate’s wild 57-36 win over SUNY Brockport, shows that the conference will be a close one this season.

Syracuse captain Angus Bishop said the clash with Fordham was very physical. Syracuse has had to deal with some early injuries during an intense buildup to the conference season.

The Hammerheads graduated their flyhalf, Alex Hogkinson, over the summer and his ability to direct the run of play was certainly one of the reasons they won the conference last season. With less experience in the #10 jersey, Syracuse has been working harder on defensive structure and shape. 

“We know we won’t be as dynamic, but we feel comfortable with the tops that we have,” said Bishop. 

Freshman loose forward Anthony Pugliese was outstanding on the day, while junior prop Eric Fray was a “menace” in the scrums, said Bishop.

Lock Andrew Burdsall, a sophomore, was also solid. 

Jake Smith scored a try and Bishop scored two tries on the day, with matt Magargee kicking two conversions and a penalty. But the game was never secure. Syracuse led 8-0, but Fordham made it 8-5 at halftime. An early second-half try put Syracuse up 15-5, but with ten minutes left it was 15-12. 

“Our discipline cost us and gave Syracuse much of the possession,” said Fordham’s Andrew Gheraldi. 

It was a nailbiter for Stony Brook, as well, as Binghmaton ran out to a 15-0 halftime lead.

“It was a very physical game, and in the second half we started to play a little better,” said Stony Brook Head Coach Jerry Mirro. The back row of Rob Maloney, Jarred Hudson, and Steve Kopcho took control of issues in the second period, and flyhalf Bryan Michel started to get a little more space.

“We got lower in the rucks and that gave our backs some time,” said Mirro. 

The Stony Brook scored two tries in the second half, including a stirring, 70-meter run by center Joe Muller, to make it 15-14. Then a late penalty put it away for the Seawolves.