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Furman At Home in the National Semis

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Furman At Home in the National Semis

Furman ramps it up. Deborah Miller photo.

The key game for Furman University this season was the Southern Conference final.

Going into that game Head Coach John Roberts - after whom the college’s rugby field is named - acknowledged the massive importance of that matchup with UNC-Charlotte. Lose and you still make the national playoffs, but win … and you’re at home for the entire playoff run. 

That’s why the 44-20 win was so important. Furman was going to host the first two rounds of the playoffs anyway, and playing on the road at the same time would have hurt. They hosted the final four last year - just as they do this weekend - and knew what it felt to do so and not play.

Senior outside center Adam Miller said the players are grateful to be able to show their fans and their school how well they can play.

“Everyone’s talking about it - people are setting up tailgates for it and are telling us they’re excited for the games,” said Miller. “We’re expecting a big crowd, for sure. It was one of our calls through the year to make it to the final four.”

But, of course, Furman has to play well to showcase what this program has accomplished. They certainly had to work for it to get to this point, beating a tough Sacred Heart team 68-31, and a physically imposing NC State squad 40-19.

“We weren’t too nervous about NC State,” said Miller. “We try to go into every game the same way. We kind of knew they would come at us with the forwards, and we planned for that. We held strong on defense and that was the key.”

Furman has been one of the top DII teams in the South for years, but getting to this level takes a little bit more. Miller said the difference this year has been better chemistry.

“”We have had good chemistry before, but this year we’ve got the experience and the guys all know what the pattern has to be,” said Miller. “We’ve got really good chemistry now, and we’re all taking it very seriously.”

Miller said the Furman backline has been working together almost seamlessly, and that certainly helps fire up their offensive output. But the team unit has also meant that there isn’t just one or two superstars. 

“Everyone has stepped up at different times,” he said.

So there it is. A home team that has played some tough games, and knows what it takes. They’re playing the three-time defending national champs, Minnesota-Duluth on Saturday at John Roberts Field, but that’s a field they know very well.

Playing at home and playing the defending champions might bring distractions, but Miller dismisses that thought.

“It’s going to make us play better,” he said.