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New Paltz, Vassar on Collision Course

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New Paltz, Vassar on Collision Course

New Paltz is thinking big this year.

Both SUNY New Paltz and Vassar are 4-0 in the Tri-State Men's DII Conference Central Division, but they've arrived at that lofty spot in fairly different ways.

New Paltz has dominated, scoring close to 50 points a game and giving up less than seven. Vassar, on the other hand, has had to tough out some close ones.

"We are off to a great start," enthused James Fryer, recent New Paltz grad and now the team's coach. "The boys have been playing phenomenal, aggressive defense while putting together many organized phases on offense. We have really put together a winning system and we believe that the Hawks will be turning heads come playoff time."

A leadership group of returning players have the Hawks playing some smart rugby. Center Kevin Menyhart, scrumhalf Peter Randazzo, flanker James Evans, and lock Tom Anderson all are playing extremely well, and, said Fryer, "are a lot of fun to watch."

Fryer said he's simplified the game plan and left it up to the experienced players to make decisions on the field. Early this fall he identified fitness as one of the team's biggest problems, and they're working at. But the big question is whether they can weather long periods of playing defense against strong teams.

Vassar, meanwhile, had to get through SUNY Maritime this past week, doing so to the tune of 20-19. Three Joe Simon tries and one from Nick Olkovsky did the damage, although a conversion or two might have made things a little more comfortable.

Somehow, said Head Coach Tony Brown, Vassar found a way to win. They gave away too many penalties but managed to lead 15-5. Maritime kept it close by a smart weakside run by Okovsky sealed it for the Brewers.

(A note on SUNY Maritime - despite being 0-3 they have as many points as if they had won a game. That's because all three losses have been by a try or less, including both New Paltz and Vassar, and they have bonus points for tries scored, as well. Maritime could conceivably run the table for the rest of the season.)

Two weeks from now, New Paltz and Vassar face off for what will be the division lead. Brown says his team has much to work on to be ready for that clash. Fryer said the same about his group.

"Vassar is a big rivalry for us," said Fryer. "For three years I have gone across the river to get thrown in the dirt by Vassar's extremely impressive rugby program, as did many New Paltz alumni before me. This year, the Hawks are more than happy to return the favor. We will be ready to go."

 

Tri-State Central W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
SUNY-New Paltz 4 0 0 191 34 157 4 0 20
Vassar 4 0 0 170 71 99 4 0 20
SUNY-Oneonta 2 1 0 137 70 67 2 0 10
Monroe 2 1 0 69 74 -5 2 0 10
SUNY-Maritime 0 3 0 70 81 -11 2 3 5
Bard 0 4 0 33 206 -173 1 0 1
Drew 0 3 0 24 158 -134 0 0 0