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Villanova Reload Leads This Weekend In D2 Men's College

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Villanova Reload Leads This Weekend In D2 Men's College

The Men's DII college season gets well and truly underway this weekend with four conferences in action in some form or other.

Heading the list is a Great Midwest clash between Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa, a game that will go a long way to letting us know who is a challenger in the GMW South.

The new-look Cardinals Conference, which has a DII-only division and a hybrid division (which means there are NSCRO teams there, too). This week, it's a Hybrid matchup, but both divisions are kind of up for grabs, especially with Fall 2018 national champs NC State having moved up to DIAA.

Western Colorado has already logged a forfeit win over CSU Pueblo for this week in the Rocky Mountain. Western will be a contender again, as will Montana State.

But the real headliner might well be Villanova against East Stroudsburg. Villanova almost made it to the national semifinals last year, and seem to have reloaded pretty well.

"It's a fact of college rugby that you turn a team over every couple of seasons," said Head Coach Stephen Green. "But we bring back almost our entire backline, and they've been a strength, and while we lost some forwards we had good depth there."

Starting league games this early in September is a bit nuts, as players have often just made it to campus. Green said Wednesday was his team's second practice.

"But I guess we just hope they haven't forgotten everything from last season," he said. "Last year we surprised everyone. I was a bit surprised myself. We have a really good group of kids, they work hard, and I am thrilled to be a part of it."

Leading the way for 'Nova is James Lyons, who suits up at inside center, and the attack is basically run off him.

"He's a smart player, our emotional leader, and he's the president of our club, so he's committed," said Green.

Add to that the X-factor of PJ Mayer, who comes in at fullback. He is a dangerous counter-attacker and slides into the threequarter line nicely, as well. If Villanova can bring last year's reserve forwards up to starting level, they could repeat.

But, added Green, "you never really know what you have until they get on the field."

This weekend's games:

8/31/19 Northern Michigan 19-65 Minnesota - Duluth Great Midwest
9/7/19 Northern Illinois vs Northern Iowa Great Midwest
9/7/19 Illinois State vs Loyola - Chicago Great Midwest
9/7/19 Western Illinois vs UIC Great Midwest
9/7/19 Lehigh at TCNJ MARC
9/7/19 Villanova at East Stroudsburg MARC
9/7/19 Roanoke vs Hampden-Sydney Cardinals
9/7/19 Western Colorado vs CSU Pueblo Rocky Mountain
9/7/19 Idaho State vs Colorado Mesa Rocky Mountain
9/7/19 Weber State vs Northern Colorado Rocky Mountain