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Week 2 Shows Success of Chesapeake Conference

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Week 2 Shows Success of Chesapeake Conference

Wing Nathan Neri works through space for UMW against Towson. Alex Clegg photo.

The new Chesapeake Conference looks to be exactly what teams wanted when they formed it - a very competitive competition for college teams that are close to each other and are motivated to play.

Burned repeatedly by forfeits, a big competitive divide, or long travel distances, the Chesapeake teams have come together to play - they are ostensibly DI but don’t worry too much about all of that; they just want to play.

So it was that Week 2 in the Chesapeake went down this weekend, with eight teams in action, and all four games very competitive.

Virginia Tech won their first game of the conference season, taking the Commonwealth Shield from Virginia 24-10 on the back of a strong forward effort. Virginia drops to 1-1.

Mary Washington put in a nice performance, beating a rebuilding Towson 34-19. Mount Saint Mary’s moved to 2-0 with a 36-24 of James Madison - perhaps the most notable result of the day - and Maryland came back to beat Georgetown 27-15.

For the Maryland Terrapins, this was their first foray into the Chesapeake season.

“We are very happy to be here,” said Maryland Head Coach Jeff Soeken. “We have much less travel and we now don’t have to support the charter bus business the way we have in the past. We’d have these long travel days and pass a six teams we could play on the way to a game.”

The Georgetown game was fun for all in part because so many of the players involved had played with or against each other in high school. Georgetown - a strong DII program last season - ran out to a 15-0 lead at halftime, and Soeken said they were unlucky not to be up 20-0. A dropped ball resulted in a breakaway for Georgetown, but some desperate cover defense from Maryland kept the score at 15.

With the light breeze at their backs, the Terps started to play better.

“In the first half we just couldn’t get into a good pattern of play, but the forward picked up their level of play in the second half,” said Soeken. 

Speedy scrumhalf Brandon Drummond was a terror and zipped through for a try. The forwards powered over for two and that set the platform for some tries out wide later. 

Flanker Jack Perry, a Gonzaga HS product, was solid in the tackle and played a good all-around game for Maryland.

Meanwhile, Mount Saint Mary’s, the defending national small college champions, moved to 2-0 with a defeat of James Madison. Defensive pressure was the name of the game for MSM, said Head Coach Jay Myles.

MSM's defense did a good job holding off JMU's attack. Colleen McCloskey photo.
JMU v MSM Colleen McCloskey photo

“Our set piece was really good and we pressured them in the centers,” said Myles, who added that JMU’s Mo Katz gave them fits. No. 8 Travis Bewley was strong with the ball in hand and created opportunities for his teammates. Meanwhile, it was the props Jack Bonner and Nick Maffei who really set the tone.

“We’re still growing into the shapes and pattern we learned from the Pro-Performance guys from Australia,” said Myles. “We are gaining in confidence.

JMU Head Coach Mark Lambourne said that “we did not execute well. We didn’t overcome the cards we were dealt and will have to regroup and get ready for the next one.”

The University of Mary Washington kicked off their Chesapeake Collegiate Rugby Conference season by hosting Towson St in Fredericksburg VA.  

And Mary Washington downed Towson 34-19 in Fredericksburg, Va.  UMW got off to a great start, scoring an unconverted pack try in the corner in the first five minutes. Towson quickly countered and evened the score. The teams went back and forth throughout the game until UMW started to win the breakdown with some intense counter-rucking.  

UMW and Towson both have very young teams, UMW had only one senior on the field and four juniors, while Towson has graduated several from the team that made the top four in DII last year. This time, it seemed to be Mary Washington's day. In the second half UMW began to pull away. Fullback George Northwood, flyhallf Terence McPhillips, and center Mattson Bueche really started to gain ground and were perfectly set up by scrumhalf Ewan Corley. No. 8 Andrew Lamarca and flyhallf McPhillips scored key tries as UMW pulled away.

"Towson is a measuring stick for us but only the start of the season - every week of this season is tough for any team," said UMW Director of Rugby Tim Brown. "You really can't do more than pat each other on the back and then get ready for a tough Salisbury team that has always given us trouble. I am proud of all our players - Towson was big, fast, skilled, and physical.  This is an amazing conference with no off weekends."

So after the first seven games of this new conference, all but one game has been relatively close, and more to the point, all of these teams are geographically close, and ready to play.


Chesapeake W L T Pf Pa Pd BT BL Pts
Mount Saint Mary's 2 0 0 81 48 33 2 0 10
James Madison 1 1 0 59 43 16 2 0 6
Mary Washington 1 0 0 34 19 15 1 0 5
Virginia Tech 1 0 0 24 10 14 1 0 5
Maryland 1 0 0 27 15 12 1 0 5
Virginia 1 1 0 40 51 -11 1 0 5
Salisbury 0 1 0 27 30 -3 1 1 2
Georgetown 0 2 0 39 72 -33 1 0 1
Towson 0 2 0 26 67 -41 0 0 0