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Syracuse, Iona Win Big In Liberty

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Syracuse, Iona Win Big In Liberty

Syracuse Rugby

Iona and Syracuse are looking strong in the Liberty Conference after both beat key rivals this weekend.

Iona got two tries from Watson Filikitonga and from Mike Hay in a 79-10 dismissal of Fordham. Nine other Iona players touched down—Conor Byrne, Andrew Aglione, Phil Raviele, John Powers, Connor Buckley, Cam DiGiorgio, Doug Price, Tyler Ringwood, and Omar Mtarfi.

Powers added six conversions for a personal haul of 17. Branden Buckley also added a conversions.

This was a very impressive showing by Iona, and Fordham is usually one of the Gaels' closest opponents in the Liberty's I-95 Division, and came into the game 2-0 in conference play.

Meanwhile, Syracuse beat Buffalo 41-10 in a game that Head Coach Bob Wilson was concerned he might lose.

"This was a bit of a surprise because we did lose some players from last year, but we've seen some maturation in the returning players."

In addition, newer players have stepped in. The halfback combination of Dillon Wall of California and Sam Low from England has gelled nicely. Low, who played a lot of soccer growing up, has helped make Syracuse's kicking game a significant positive.

 

And some freshmen are playing well also.

"We don't often get first-year players who are impact players, but we have this year," said Wilson.

Center Joe Jackson is from England and not only a skilled and experienced player (he played at storied Millfield School), but he's a chirper and keeps the team on task with a constant vocal barrage of encouragement.

Liam Hannah is from Gonzaga HS in DC and has been a key addition to a solid front row. 

Sam Cederwell, anotherEnglishman, has been hugely effective on the flank.

"They've contributed physically, but have also bought into the culture," said Wilson.

Undersized, Syracuse beat Buffalo this week by being quicker to the ball and more aggressive over it. Wilson said intensity, pace, and a smart kicking game have been the secret.

Syracuse is now 4-0 in the Liberty's Empire Division, outscoring teams 172-34. Hooker Aidan Kelly scored two against Buffalo, giving him a conference-leading six for the season. Fullback Jean Eric van der Elst scored once and has five. Wing Jacob Hauser and flankers Cederwell and Anthony Pugliese also touched down while Low added 11 points with his boot.

Video of Kelly scoring one of his tries here