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Liberty D1 Pecking Order Already Coming Together

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Liberty D1 Pecking Order Already Coming Together

Fairfield vs Northeastern. Photo by @CoolRugbyPhotos.

It’s going to be a fun time in the Liberty Conference this season.

Yes it’s true that Brown is the defending NCR D1 champion, returns several of the players from that team, and appears to be ready to reload. But other teams are working their way forward, too.

Non-Conference Action

Brown won a non-conference game over Holy Cross and that wasn’t a big surprise as Holy Cross is a small-college team.

But AIC also played a small-college team, albeit perhaps a higher-ranked one in Babson. That was closer, but also a win.

Conference Games

Unfortunately, the game between Siena and Iona was called due to lightning, and wasn’t played. That game would have given everyone a nice insight into where those two teams stack up.

But we did get two conference games played, and both were relatively convincing victories for the favored teams.

Dartmouth defeated Harvard in a game that was Harvard’s first runout under new Head Coach Colton Cariaga. There is much for Harvard to do and they will improve. Dartmouth looked solid and we have more details here:

Dartmouth Men Get By Tough Harvard Side 

Nazareth held off a very good and improving Syracuse team 29-28. The Golden Flyers got tries from Owen Fitzwater, Mohamed Barry, Jacob Townsand, and Tyreik Thomas all scored tries. Conversions were hard to come by but they got two, which is what they needed, with Conrad Hillsheim and Pat Notaro slotting one each.

"We spent quite a bit of time on team bonding during preseason this year and the guys are having fun, but they're locked-in and focused now," said Head Coach Dana Schneider.  

Fullback Tony Robinson, who showed well at the NCR all-star tournament in January, was outstanding for the Golden Flyers while Abdulaye Sy was a force in the lineouts, which were a key source of possession for Nazareth. But their penalty count was too high, said Schneider, and Syracuse was good enough to take advtnage.

"It's also obvious that Syracuse has been putting in the work," said Schneider.


Fairfield University defeated a very good Northeastern team 59-7. Fullback and captain Chris Giunta was outstanding while lock Rob Betsais led at the point of contact.

Flyhalf Henry Novicki was named player of the game thanks to his elusiveness and his field vision—setting up several tries with nicely-weighted crossfield kicks.

Giunta scored 29 points with two tries, a penalty goal, and eight conversions. Fairfield got on the scoreboard early punishing Huskies penalties, taking the quick tap and making Northeastern backpedal. Novicki then sold a dummy and was in under the posts. Northeastern replied with a try from prop Wallid Soukaki, tapping on a penalty and it was penalties that helped Northeastern along.

Fairfield took the lead for good 22 minutes into the first half when Giunta slotted a penalty kick, and as the first half progressed Fairfield’s defensive pressure started to create turnovers. Novicki grabbed his second try after recovering his own chip kick and his effort was followed by Giunta and freshman center Patrick McHale breaking through to score and setting up a 31-7 halftime lead.

The second half started more slowly until the 53rd minute when Giunta counter-attacked from an attempted Northeastern clearance kick, chipped a pop kick over the defense and reclaimed it to cruise in to score. Tries were added by wing Shane Baffa, wing Connor McCabe, and scrumhalf Kevin Splan.  

This weekend firmly throws Dartmouth and Fairfield into the upper echelon of the Liberty D1, alongside Brown. Now, can Iona or Siena or Nazareth or (despite the loss) Syracuse join them?