Liberty Update as Playoffs Loom in D1, D1AA
Liberty Update as Playoffs Loom in D1, D1AA
It's already time to think about the playoff scenarios in some conferences, and since the Liberty has multiple levels, let's look at them.
(We'll talk about DII in a separate article. Why? Because we said so.)
Liberty NCR D1
As expected there are three undefeated teams in the Liberty NCR D1 league now after the weekend's action.
The key game there was Iona vs Dartmouth, as both came into the weekend without a loss. Iona's defense was outstanding to hold Dartmouth to just the one try in winning 20-5.
Led by Conor Byrne at flanker and with the halfback combination of Sean Donohue (a freshman) and Archil Kvaratshkheila working nicely together, Iona is putting the pieces in place.
James Phelps has been very good at fullback. But the story seems to be that the Iona forwards as a unit are making a massive impact. They controlled the lineout and the scrums, starving Dartmouth of good possession. And while the scoring opportunities aren't always coming together, the Gaels are getting enough of them to win.
"We controlled the game from beginning to end but couldn't put the numbers on the board.
Byrne runs the lineout and he does that smartly, while his defense and his work over the ball lead the team. Jordan McKenzie was accurate in his lineout throws and was also a defensive leader, while Anthony Antonelli is the team's anchor at lock.
Among the backs Kvaratshkheila's kicking kept Dartmouth pinned back and Phelps handled Dartmouth's kicks without putting a hair out of place.
So all that sets up Iona to take on Brown this coming weekend.
Brown, as we reported earlier, beat Fairfield in a good performance, but perhaps not a great performance.
They didn't quite finish as well as they are capable of, but it was enough to get them to 4-0.
And Siena moved to 4-0 with a 52-8 defeat of Nazareth. Paced by a pair of tries by each of the captains—outside center Ben Burridge and No. 8 Andrew McCallum. Flyhalf Isaac Frost ran the attack well and converted five tries.
Siena's attack is firing nicely with an average of 37 points per game and they are allowing an average of 11 per game.
So it looks at though those three teams will finish up in the semifinals. Iona has two games left, against Brown and then Nazareth. Brown has Iona and Dartmouth, which is a tough way to end the regular season.
Dartmouth faces Fairfield and Brown, and could lose either of those games. Siena plays a Fordham team that has hung tough in every game.
The complication is that Iona and Siena were supposed to play each other, but their game was called due to lightning and somehow they couldn't squeeze in a reschedule.
In the end Dartmouth is nicely poised to grab that fourth semifinal spot, but it could be that the Dartmouth-Fairfield game will decide that.
Yale and Boston College lead the Liberty East. Yale continues their solid run with a 24-20 win over UConn. A win over UMass next week would leave the Bulldogs at 5-1.
Their only loss was last week to Boston College 20-14. BC was supposed to be idle this week but there game with Rhode Island from earlier was postponed and was rescheduled for last night (October 9). The Eagles won 55-12 to improve to 4-0 and face off with UConn and UMass in the next two weeks. Alejo Pisoni scored three tries in this game and Alex Buccino scored two.
"We are very excited about this team," said BC club president and lock John Kalil, who called his backline attack "electric."
"Our sophomore wingers, Pat McMahon and Alejo Pisoni, have been doing the bulk of the scoring — Alejo scored four tries against Buffalo, and Pat scored four tries against Binghamton. Our offense struggled against a tough Yale defense, but we made just enough plays to win that one at home and played some tough defense of our own down the stretch." And Pisoni added the hat trick last night while McMahon added one more.
Junior flanker and captain Matt Ricciardelli and vice captain and scrumhalf Bobby Voth provide a good base of leadership that will be with the team for a while.
"The sophomore class is really the strength of the program," said Kalil. "Ten of the first XV from the Yale match were sophomores. We've been focused this week on our offensive structure, after struggling in that respect against Yale. We are looking forward to UConn this Saturday at their place. They are always a very physical team."
In the Liberty West, it's pretty tight and this coming weekend Binghamton at Colgate could decide how it all pans out. Both are 3-2, but in-division Colgate is 3-0 and Binghamton 2-1. Columbia, also 2-1 in-division, finishes up with Stony Brook and could jump into a playoff spot.