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They've Seen It All Before: Tested Norwich Ready For Semis

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They've Seen It All Before: Tested Norwich Ready For Semis

At first glance it appears that things have been a bit of a knife edge for Norwich University, but ask the players and they say it’s all been a bit more chill.

The Cadets did indeed lose their first game of the season, and were in two very different kinds of dogfights in the Men’s DII College playoffs, but through it all, says captain Will Rambin, Norwich has been smart, patient, and in control.

“Losing that first game against Bentley was tough,” said Rambin, who had missed the warmup games due to a broken nose. “It was our first conference loss in three years, but it also showed us that we were not invincible, that we needed to work harder.”

So in that sense, a 11-10 loss to Bentley was exactly what Head Coach Bob Weggler would have wanted to ensure his team was wary of slipping. “It set the tone for us,” said Rambin. “I wouldn’t say the guys were worried. We used it to work on how it happened.”

Norwich went on to sweep the table and win the Rugby Northeast, and then work its way through to the final four. 

In the Round of 16 clash with Loyola, the conditions were wet and muddy—very wet and muddy. 

“We knew ball was bad so we realized we’ve got to keep possession,” said Rambin. “We talked to each other about how the ball was going to stay with us. We were able to make that adjustment and just close out the game. Guys were hitting rucks and we made sure whenever anyone made a break there were guys there to support.”

After beating Loyola 26-8, Norwich had a very different experience the next day, ultimately beating Furman 60-41 in overtime. But it was even tighter than that. Furman led 24-7 in the first half, and 41-24 with about ten minutes to go.

“We were back on our heels but we never felt that we were down and out,” said Rambin. “We started to identify our mistakes, and we realized that we had to be more disciplined—they had two really good kickers so any penalties inside the 40 hurt us.”

Slowly Norwich started to fix things. 

“All through the season we’ve had games where things weren’t going our way,” said Rambin. “But our guys have played well in big games, and we just made sure we kept the ball and we’d hit rucks, and when we had a chance we go quick.”

And it worked out. They scored a try, and then another, and with no time left ran phase after phase with Furman forced to commit penalties.

“We were really patient and calm, and that meant we were playing with the advantage a lot,” explained the captain. “That last try we had a lineout and we went 65 meters.”

They tied it up, and then Rambin again made sure the Norwich players calmed down and didn’t get carried away. They had regained the momentum and tied the game, but they overtime left to take care of.

“Overtime is a different thing, and the juniors and seniors remembered what it was like to lose to VMI in overtime two years ago, so we had to keep our heads.”

That they did, and now Norwich looks ahead to a very talented Queens University team. But you have to know they won’t be rattled.