Round 11 Preview: Liberty Championship Showdown

D1A Rugby: Round 11 Preview: Liberty Championship Showdown
  • Liberty Championship Match: Boston College vs Northeastern
  • Liberty Challenge Tournament plays out for conference seeding
  • 7 ranked clubs active this weekend, while 6 battle head-to-head
  • Rocky Mountain regular season wrap-up

With a few conferences having recently wrapped up, or currently nearing, their end of Fall season, the Liberty Championship Challenge will have center stage this upcoming weekend. With 9 matches and 17 Liberty conference teams meeting in Fairfield, CT for the ‘last hooray’ of the season. Many matches will decide end-of-season conference standings, along with plenty of bragging rights. The Championship Match will be decided between Boston College and Northeastern University this Saturday, at 5pm EST. All *Challenge* games will be live streamed on Next Level Rugby, while the three *Showcase* games will be televised on Eleven Sports USA.

For the remaining matches of D1A, a total of seven ranked clubs will be active, with six of those battling one another. Keep your eyes firmly fixed on our social channels for a potential upset could take place in yet another exciting D1A weekend.

LIBERTY CHAMPIONSHIP / CHALLENGE

CHALLENGE MATCHES – Streamed on Next Level Rugby

In the first match of the Liberty Challenge series, I-95 sub-conference’s Stony Brook (4-3) will play Empire’s Colgate (2-5). In both of these clubs’ previous three matches, each has gone 1-2, with the only difference that Stony Brook had won its last game, brining momentum into the mix. Watch out for Stony Brook’s leading try scorer, Michael LaBarbera, to make a valuable effort in helping his club secure a victory.

Within the 10am game, I-95’s Fordham (3-3) will face Empire’s Binghamton (5-3). Fordham is 1-2 in their last three matches, with both losses coming to both semifinal teams in AIC and Northeastern. On the other side of the ball, Binghamton is 2-1 in their last three matches, having lost to a strong Oswego side. A player to watch out for would be Binghamton’s top try scorer in Joseph LoPinto, with 9 scores on the season, totaling 45 points. Both these clubs seldom play one another, but will be keen for a chance at another victory.

In the 11:30 AM spot, New England’s Tufts (1-6) will take on Empire’s Cortland (2-5). Both of these clubs, at least, have not secured a victory in their past four matches. An exciting player to watch out for would be Cortland’s leading point scorer, and kicker, Kieran Creighton. Cortland’s impressive student-athlete has 62 points on the year, with 10 conversions, 9 penalties, along with 3 tries.

Taking the field in the other 11:30 AM matchup, New England’s UConn (0-6) will face-off against the Empire’s Albany (0-8). Both of these clubs have been hungry in earning their first victory of the year, in which, surely there will be an eventual tick in the win column for either team. On the whole, UConn has corralled more overall points scored than Albany during the season, but this matchup will come down to grit and perseverance.

In the first afternoon matchup of the tournament, New England’s UMass (3-3) will battle the Empire’s formidable Oswego State (5-2). Oswego is riding a 3-game winning streak scoring 134 points, while only giving up a total of 8 in the process. Their only two losses on the season came at the hands of Empire’s top teams in Syracuse and Buffalo. While Oswego has upside potential, UMass is no team to sleep on, especially when leading try scorer in David Buchanan is on the pitch, totaling 10 individual scores on the year.

In the final Challenge matchup of the evening, closing out the day, New England’s Fairfield (4-4) will play the Empire’s #2 seed in Buffalo (6-1). Buffalo has only lost to the semi-finalist Syracuse side, but has wiped down the rest of their schedule with their closest win at 8 points. Since their lone loss, Buffalo has won four straight with the help of their overall points leader, Cooper Szelest, with 96 points broken down by 28 conversions, 5 penalties and 5 tries. Fairfield will have their hands full with this attacking side, but have always shown offensive promise themselves, scoring a total of 314 points, which averages around 40 points a match.

SHOWCASE MATCHES – Streamed on Eleven Sports USA

In the first ‘Showcase’ matchup of the day, St. Bonaventure (2-5), being the only non-Liberty conference team, will play #13 Iona (7-2). Playing in the difficult East Conference, St. Bonaventure has run into 5 ranked teams so far, with this matchup as their 6th on the year. The Bonnies have shown flashes of attacking potential, but it’s been a difficult road in facing defensive stalwart teams in Navy, Penn State, Notre Dame, Army and Kutztown. Iona Gaels are currently riding a 6-game winning streak, mostly playing Liberty conference foes, and have been an offensive buzzsaw of a team, as of late. The Gaels have scored 410 points in the last six matches, averaging over 68 points per game. This could be the tale-of-the-tape as a very strong attack will meet a valiant side in St. Bonaventure.

3rd Place Match: As the curtain-opener for the Championship Match, I-95’s American International College (3-2) will take on the Empire’s top team in Syracuse (7-2). Coming off losses in their respective semifinals matches, both teams will be aiming on finishing the season on a high note for the rights of Bronze within D1A’s most jam-packed conference. AIC’s only two losses on the year were their last two games against ranked Iona and undefeated Northeastern, in which was a very close game losing by 6 points. Both sides have shown incredible resolve and potential of being a top club within the country, but it is difficult trying to get ahead while potentially battling 18 other clubs within Liberty. AIC’s overall points leader, Luis Sitama, with 60 points, 13 conversions, 3 penalties, and 5 tries will aim to lead his side against a well-balanced Syracuse side. The upper New York club has two individuals with 11 tries on the season each, Aidan Kelly & Jean Eric van der Elst. These individuals are just a glimpse in the potential of both these clubs and will definitely be a great match to end their respective seasons.

Championship Match: In the Top Match of the Championship Challenge Series, there will be a New England sub-conference club crowned as Liberty’s Best 2019 team. Boston College (6-1) will take on conference rival and familiar foe in the undefeated Huskies of Northeastern (8-0). It is valuable to note that Boston College’s only loss of the season came at the hands of their upcoming opponent, on October 5th of this year, 42-33 in favor of Northeastern. In an earlier match that was decided with an 11 point differential, shall be comparatively parallel to their second clash of the season. Northeastern has had four close games this season, all within 11 point differentials, but have overcome the potential obstacles with a spotless record. The Huskies have four players with 5 tries or more, while the Golden Eagles have only 3 players over that milestone. Boston College has been lead by the immensely impressive play of Connor Robinson, who has 19 tries on the year, which amount to 95 season points, the most on his team. It will be a daunting task for either team this upcoming weekend, but it will definitely be a match to remember as the Liberty Conference turns the final page of their 2019 Fall Campaign.

CROSSOVER

In their last matchup of the year each, Mid-South’s #5 Navy (7-2) will travel to South Euclid, OH to play hosts, East’s #12 Notre Dame College (3-1-3). In their last three matches, the Falcons are 1-1-1, with two of those opponents currently ranked. While Navy has had a tough stretch losing their last two matches, both against Top-4 conference opponents, after winning their first seven matches of the season. Both these clubs will be vying for much needed momentum to carry them into the winter months. An incredibly staunch Midshipmen side had two 5-point losses in their tough opponents, and should take that as the silver lining heading into their ranked matchup versus a well-coached NDC side. A potential upset in this game could send the Top-20 for an absolute loop, if the Falcons can prevail over the #5 side.

MID-SOUTH

In one of the more impressive matchups of the weekend, #4 Lindenwood (2-0) will travel on the road to Grand Rapids, MI to face conference foe, #9 Davenport (2-1-1). In the last seven matches between these two sides, over 4 years, Lindenwood has lopsidedly won all seven matches, which includes playoffs. The Panthers, led by coach Lance Hohaia, will be aiming in reversing that trend into their favor this upcoming weekend. Davenport’s own, Mathew DeVilliers has lead the charge of total points and try leader, with 63 points (2nd on team has 13), converting 12 kicks, along with 8 penalties and 3 tries. This individual effort so far has been with the help of the entire Panther team, and that collective effort will need to bring their A+ game against the ever-dangerous Lindenwood Lions.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN

Within the Rocky Mountain Conference, there are just three matches before their conference championship weekend on 11/23. #8 BYU (6-0) will travel south of their state-line to face-off against New Mexico (1*-5). The Cougars have been quite the unstoppable force this season so far, in which the home-field side will need to wield their best efforts for their showdown.

In the other two matches, Wyoming (1-5) will also travel south of the state-line border to play #22 Colorado (4-2*) in Boulder. The Buffaloes have been on a great streak as of late, helping their way into the Top-25 mention of D1A clubs this season. The Cowboys have not seen a win in 5 weeks, and will be hungry to add another to their column. In the final matchup of the conference, Utah State (2-4) will travel within state borders to play rival Utah Valley (3-3). This game will have lots of bragging rights on the line as the two Utah sides valiantly battle this upcoming weekend.

11/16/2019#5 Navyat#12 Notre Dame College1:00 PM CSTSouth Euclid, OH
Liberty ChallengeStony BrookvsColgate8:30 AM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty ChallengeFordhamvsBinghamton10:00 AM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty ChallengeTuftsvsCortland11:30 AM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty ChallengeUConnvsAlbany11:30 AM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty ChallengeSt. Bonaventurevs#13 Iona1:00 PM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty ChallengeUMassvsOswego State2:00 PM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty 3rd Place MatchAICvsSyracuse3:00 PM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty Championship MatchBoston CollegevsNortheastern5:00 PM ESTFairfield, CT
Liberty ChallengeFairfieldvsBuffalo7:00 PM ESTFairfield, CT
Wyomingat#22 Colorado1:00 PM MSTBoulder, CO
#8 BYUatNew Mexico1:00 PM MSTAlbequerque, NM
Utah StateatUtah Valley1:00 PM MSTOrem, UT
#4 Lindenwoodat#9 Davenport1:00 PM CSTGrand Rapids, MI