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Marist Holds Off USMMA in Tri State

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Marist Holds Off USMMA in Tri State

Marist traveled down to Kings Point, NY to play Merchant Marine Academy to decide Tri State regular season champions.

This has been a stop-start season in the Tri State but both Marist and Kings Point have managed to get through it ready to play. Both defeated RPI in tight games and really that's what set up this encounter. Officially both teams were unbeaten going into the match.

The Merchant Marina Academy's relatively small field was also hit with rain 30 minutes before kickoff, meaning it would not be a track meet on the day. Marist pressure after a knock-on inside the USMMA 22 and was able to earn ground with sustained go-forward ball from the pack. Big runs from John Schneider and TJ Finegan eventually going over for the first try from inside center Albert Severing.

King Point picked up the intensity and their physicality forced a few turnovers and then they were able to bring their scrum to bear. A penalty from Marist saw Kings Point flyhalf Michael Regan slice through to set up the equalizing try. Marist earned the lion's share of possession for the remainder of the first half, choosing to kick out of their own end and play in MMA territory.

Big prop John Schneider barreled over under the posts at the 30-minute mark and the try was converted by scrumhalf Oliver Wilson for a 12-5 Marist lead. Marist was soon back in King Point territory and after the forwards bashed it ahead, freshman No. 8 TJ Finegan took a pop pass from 5 meters out and carried two defenders over the line for another converted try. Marist led 19-5 at halftime.

Kings Point came out with a real energy and fervor in the second half, making several line breaks through good play by their halfback combo of Will McGuire and Micheal Regan, as well as their loose forwards. Marist held on, but finally the pressure from Kings Point paid off and they were over in the corner. Regan made the difficult conversion anf it was 19-12. 

After some pressure defense from the Marist pack earned a penalty about 25 meters out on the left side, which was put through the sticks by Wilson to make it a 10-point Marist advantage. But the Merchant Marina Academy came right back. A little back-and-forth kicking saw MMA get the better of that as Marist fumbled the catch deep in their own 22. Kings Point got a scrum just five meters out, and while Marist defended doggedly, and even cleared their lines, eventually MMA got a penalty, which Regan put over.

That made it 22-15. 

Marist, however, was able to put the game away, pushing away the Kings Point attack with some timely tackling and a scrum won against the head. With three minutes left they worked through a long period of phases to run out the clock and take it 22-15.

This was a tough game and the Merchant Marine Academy's fitness and dedication to the tackle was impressive, and Regan ran the attack very nicely and used the boot to good effect.

Marist had held out flyhalf Federico Gubana, who is coming back from an injury, so that he'd be ready for the playoffs. The Marist side responded by controlling much of the possession and handling conditions that didn't necessarily play to their strengths.

Schneider was player of the game.

Next up in the Tri-State RPI is scheduled against William Paterson but that should be a forfeit. USMMA plays Seton Hall. A week later will be the semifinals, with Kings Point and Marist expected to host, and likely to meet again in the final.