The varsity purple rugby Eagles were ranked #3 entering their early-season clash with #1 ranked Xavier (NY) on March 17. The game was played in New York and was a tight and contentious match that came down to the final whistle. Both coaching staffs left the game a little frustrated, wrote the Goff Rugby Report
"That's the second time in three years that we allowed Gonzaga to come back and beat us on the last play of the match," said Xavier coach Joe Sweeney. "We need to improve our ability to close out games. Too many mental and physical mistakes at set piece gave away good possession."
"Rugby is a funny game," said Gonzaga Head Coach Peter Baggetta. "Sometimes you don't play very well and still win the game. We played poorly, especially in the first half, making basic errors like missing three kicks to touch on penalties inside the Xavier half. We also struggled to handle their rush defense and could not get any continuity going in the first half. Additionally, we made some poor kicks which made our kick chase break down."
As a result of Gonzaga miscues and a strong start from Xavier, the Eagles trailed 15-0 at halftime.
"The second half was a bit better for us," said Baggetta. "We did a much better job of maintaining continuity and our forwards started to assert themselves in the game." However, the Eagles did continue to hurt themselves as they were given two yellow cards. "The biggest thing was that the players kept grinding away and never quitting even when we made mistakes," added Baggetta.
Gonzaga scored two tries to Xavier's one in the second half to make it 20-14. The Eagles made both conversions while the hosts missed theirs, setting up the six point lead and the epic finish. Here is video of senior number 8 John Thompson scoring a try with no time left and senior scrum half Gordie McMillen making the game-winning conversion:
McMillen was perfect on his conversion kicks, and made a big try-saving tackle. Center Matt Freeman '19, and prop and captain John O'Toole '19, led from the front. Click here
to read the entire article from Goff Rugby Report.
The Eagles will leave for their annual spring break tour abroad on Friday, March 22.