Indiana eyes special season

D1A Rugby: Indiana eyes special season
Photo Credit: Stephanie Duncan Photography

BOULDER, Colo. – Indiana has dominated Big Ten so far this season, beating up on Illinois, Purdue, and Michigan, and has its eyes set on a Conference Championship. Having not lost a game in two seasons, one would assume Indiana has won at least one Conference Championship. However, if the Hoosiers are able to make it to the championship game and win at the end of this season, it will be their first crown in a couple of years.

Indiana participated and won the 2013 Big Ten Championship game, but had to forfeit that match, as well as any participation in the 2014 and 2015. Despite the sanctions, the Hoosier side has continued to dominate, bringing an undefeated 2014 record into the 2015-16 season.

“It kind of caught us all off guard,” said Indiana wing Jake Hidalgo about the sanctions. “But, as a team, we knew it was only temporary and it would pass.

“We understood the aftermath we had to endure as individuals and a club, as well as all the hype that comes with it, and still is. With none of the current players being involved in that mishap, we saw it as a hiccup in the road and wanted to bounce back, not let it bring us down. It gave us more time to gather our weapons and prepare for the future. We even practiced and played as if the championship was still at stake. We tried to remain positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Hoosiers have blocked the punishment out of their minds, and maintain focus on the future, one that could very well include a Big Ten Conference Championship and a strong showing in the D1A Playoffs come May.

Indiana packs some power in its back line, which has been a big reason for its success. Hidalgo has seven tries so far this season, including four in Indiana’s 92-0 stomping of Purdue. September BTU Player of the Month Bryce Campbell has continued to command the pitch with his size and speed. Wing Teddy Terezis currently leads the Big Ten in points with 102, largely due to his accurate leg. Those three have been on everyone’s radar for a while, but players all over the pitch are playing well for Indiana.

Sophomore Connor Marsh is a part of the star-studded back line, and, though he might not be as flashy as some of his teammates, gets to work when his help is needed. He will get after the ball, has a high number of poaches, and has an excellent rugby IQ. Another contributor is Alex Dorrier.

“Dorrier played No. 15 and provided a lot of support to the ball carrier either in the ruck or continued the attack,” said Indiana Head Coach Sarasopa Enari. “He inserted himself effectively in to the back line and gave assistance to some of the try scorers.”

“Our back line is a band of brothers,” said Terezis. “I play by the side of some of my best friends. Some of us have been playing together since high school, and that is something that really helps the cohesion and flow of our back line. We know how each one of us plays which helps us know where that next offload or support line will be.”

The Hoosiers continue to fight their history, and each week surge ahead in hopes of leaving it behind. The future of this team is bright, as many of the players are young. Campbell is only a junior, as is Terezis. Younger guys, such as Marsh and freshman Tyler Jenney, continue to push this program as it continues to be a force in D1A. Indiana has a chip on its shoulder, and will continue to fight until it no longer hears about the 2013 season.

“As a team, we expect an undefeated season,” says Terezis. “We work extremely hard and would expect nothing less for our team. We believe in ourselves and know that we are one of the most skilled teams in the country. Whoever it is we are playing, we disregard speculation and reputation, and go out and play our all. We are here to make a statement.”