Too Little, Too Late

By The Elm - Oct 18,2013@3:08 pm

Captain Donald Moran breaks through the Leopard defense to fall into the try zone as Matt Lee trails close behind for support. The ball must touch the ground in the try zone to complete a score.
Photo by Amanda Boyer

By Taylor Konyk
Sports Editor

Saturday Oct. 5, the Washington College Men’s Rugby team lost to the Lafayette Leopards 54-24. For the Shoremen, this marks their second loss of the season as they move to a 1-2 record in the Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union.

After coming off a miraculous comeback win two weeks earlier, the Shoremen should have expected their team weakness was first half intensity. But history repeated itself in all the wrong ways, because all of the points scored by the Shoremen were in the second half.

Junior Captain Donald Moran did well to ensure his team’s focus was high for the game.

“Usually I try to fight back the butterflies, say a quick prayer, and make small talk with the team. The main thing is to focus on the moment at hand and try not to think too far into the game,” he said.

As the team took to the field and kickoff ensued, the Shoremen lacked intensity and the Leopards took advantage of them. Shoremen missed tackles, lacked speed, and didn’t commit to their defensive lanes leaving gaps in lines.

“When we had the ball, they pressured us, and when they were on the offensive, they did not hesitate” to create motion, said Moran. “I thought that our biggest problem was focus. We had trouble winning the ball in scrums and line-outs which put us constantly on the defensive. They took good advantage of attacking us hard at these times which gave them easy scores.”

Junior forward, Oladapo Olajumoke played his game with severe intensity that eventually boiled over into penalties and a suspension.

“Taking hits and breaking tackles [helps] to give my team an open gap [for] a chance to gain meters. So far this season I haven’t been able to be as aggressive as I wanted to. But during our last game things got out of hand,” he said. “The team we played against caught us on our back foot and were able to score on us several times. Being the player I am, I felt it my responsibility to take it to the other team as hard as I could. Unfortunately I may have been too aggressive, during my tackles the referee deemed it a high and dangerous tackle. For this I received a yellow card and was sent to the sideline for 10 minutes of the game.”

Soon after reentering the game, Olajumoke received yet another penalty for a high tackle and was ejected from the game. By default any player that is ejected from a game must serve a one-game suspension in the next consecutive game.

After the game Moran said, “Losing Dapo is huge. He may look like a big teddy bear but he is one of our hardest hitting players. His voracity and desire to compete is contagious on the field which will make him greatly missed in our upcoming game. His penalty, though unintentional, was well deserved.

Dapo was trying to inspire the team with intensity and make a game-changing play. The only problem was that the tackle was a bit high.”

Olajumoke’s efforts were not in vain. In the second half, Moran found the try-zone thrice for 15-points, and junior James Stankewicz tapped the try-zone once off a breakaway for a combined 20-points. Coupled with two successful conversions, the Shoremen battled to 24 points, but by that point in the game it was too late for a comeback.

Once the Shoremen found their legs and played their style of grind-it-out rugby, they managed their opponent. Unfortunately, they lost a great competitor with Olajumoke, but have the tools they need to win.

“I want to see more intensity and passion. We only have two more games this season and we better be hungry for a win. We can beat our next opponent, but that will not happen if we play like we did in the first half of this past game. I speak from experience when I say this: It’s not fun losing a rugby game, for multiple reasons. Next week I want to have some fun,” said Moran with regard to next week’s match-up against LaSalle.

Despite the disadvantage of losing a key forward, the Shoremen rugby squad is prepared to do battle in Philadelphia. In every game they have had a slow start. Now, with the loss of Olajumoke, the team must pick up the pieces and play their rough brand of rugby from the start. With an even shorter bench, and the possibility of no substitute ruggers, the Shoremen play for each other in Philadelphia.

The Elm

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