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URI Starts Strong

Friday Sep 25, 2009 in Amateur Competitions Division II Colleges

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New England produces some of the most competitive DII college teams in the country – three of the last four national champions have come from that region.

So if you’re leading a conference within that competition, you’ve got to be doing something right. The University of Rhode Island, having downed Coast Guard a week ago moved to 2-0 in the New England Southern Conference with a 45-7 defeat of Amherst last Saturday.

Head coach Nate Godfrey said his team has been a little lucky.

“We are starting to get some support for the men’s program here,” Godfrey said. “They’ve seen what we’ve been doing with the women’s team and they have responded.”

Godfrey and his assistants coach both teams. Of course luck is relative, and URI has had its share of the bad stuff, too. They locks two players are the Saranac Lake tournament, including a first-year player who ruptured his Achilles tendon. Others have come down with injuries and they go into this weekend’s match with 2-0 UMass down five starters.

That’s OK, they can handle it.

“It gives us a chance to show our depth,” said Godfrey. “With all the injuries we haven’t realty executed a game plan; we’ve just wanted to get the basics down.”

URI’s program centers on a cadre of experienced players. Godfrey founded the Bishop Hendricken high school team, and several of those players have followed on to Rhode Island.

“We’ve ended up with about ten guys who have seven or eight years of rugby experience, and that’s helped a lot,” said Godfrey. “They help set the tone.”

Godfrey said the team looks solid now, but he cautions that New England is a tough place to play rugby at the DII level.

“It’s going to be a rock fight against UMass,” he said. “These two games we’ve already won could be the only two games we win all year. It’s that tough. Still, we pushed [national champs] Middlebury close last year and we’d love another shot at them.”

New England DII Matchups
Boston University (2-0) at New Hampshire  (0-2)
Maine Orono  (1-1) at Bentley College (1-1)
Middlebury (1-0) at Norwich (1-0)
Saint Michael's (0-0) at Williams College  (0-1)
US Coast Guard Academy (0-2) at Amherst (0-2)
UMass (2-0) at University of Rhode Island (2-0)

- Alex Goff

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