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NDC Slogs Through Mud for Win

College Men

NDC Slogs Through Mud for Win

Sunday’s DIAA semifinal in Pittsburgh was exactly the opposite of what Notre Dame College wanted.

The Falcons wanted dry conditions, and a chance for open running. Instead, they got a mud bowl, and a big, physical University of Cincinnati team that looked at least a little more comfortable playing in that mud.

Cincinnati, in fact, scored first in that national fall DIAA semi on Sunday - kicking through and chasing in the muck. NDC’s cover chasers slipped and fell, and the try was good.

“I looked at the field and said ‘these are conditions that don’t suit our strength,’” said NDC Head Coach Jason Fox after the game. “‘But we’re going to have to do what we’re going to do. We’ve got to try.’”

The field became so muddy you couldn’t see the touchlines or the trylines. NDC had several plays where they felt they’d scored, but were held up or called for a double-movement. You can understand when a player thinks he’s made the tryline and realizes it all looks the same.

Down 5-0, and playing into the wind, the Falcons decided to just work it slowly up the field, keeping the ball in hand. It worked, and eventually Andrew Guerra, their freshman No. 8 who seems to also be in the middle of the action, went over for the equalizing try.

(Kicking that mud-covered ball with that kind of footing? Don’t even ask. No conversions.)

Then they kept pound the ball, pinning Cincinnati in their own 22 and trying to get that continuity that would finish it off. So it did. Spencer Duncan picked up and scored, and that was it, 10-5.

“At the end of the game, we just worried about that missed tackle,” said Fox. “We felt we could have put two or three more tries in, and I would have loved to have one more to have that cushion, but we didn’t. It was tough - really tough. Cincinnati has a big team and they hammer the ball.”

Forwards Guerra, Duncan, Cullen Barelka, and Cian Grendon were instrumental in keeping it all together.

So it wasn’t pretty, and it didn’t suit Notre Dame College at all. But maybe the test of a good team is partly how they respond to conditions that aren’t right for them.

“We would have loved to have made a statement and won with a big score,” said Fox. “But we’ll take the victory.”

Now NDC moves on to the national fall final to be held as part of the Men’s and Women’s DI and DII finals weekend in Greenville, SC. The Falcons will play … the Falcons of Bowling Green in a game where Fox says his team is the underdog, but also says they want to get back to that spring final because they have unfinished business. 

But really, all you need to know is that the ground at Furman University is expected to be firm and dry, and fans are in for something special.

Notre Dame College v Cincinnati November 20 in the mud in Pittsburgh.