Mid-Atlantic Recap: Playoff Races Getting Tight

It's going to be a great race to the finish.

Men’s Division I:

In men’s Division I, Rocky Gorge further distanced itself from the pack with a 45-19 win over Schuylkill River. At home in Philadelphia, Pa., Schuylkill took advantage of Gorge’s miscues to build a 19-3 lead thirty minutes into the match, but their opponent was able to recover and put on the clinic for the rest of the game. The Gorge defense held out the Exiles for the remaining 50 minutes while the offense racked up seven converted tries.

“We attacked pretty well in the first half but three turnovers led to three quick tries,” Rocky Gorge coach Nick DiMichele said. “We just need to keep our composure, hold onto the ball, and work our shape. We knew we’d be able to dot a few down sooner or later.”

With the North essentially wrapped up, Gorge faces a hungry Baltimore-Chesapeake club on Saturday that knocked off Norfolk last weekend. “It’s going to be a physical match as it always is with the cross-town rival,” DiMichele said. “We are just looking to play the same way we’ve been playing these last games. Take care of the pill, make our tackles, and run our shape.”

In the South, Northern Virginia (NOVA) leapfrogged Norfolk into second place with a devastating 53-5 win over the Blues. Playing indoors at the St. James in Springfield, Va., Norfolk drew first blood, but NOVA bludgeoned the Blues for a total of nine tries, including a hat trick from winger Ryan Burroughs.

“It was a great way to start the season but plenty to build on,” NOVA coach Joe Tropea said. “The forwards ran behind their shoulders and kept the defense on the back foot which created space for our backs in attack. I was happy with the boys’ support lines and in the rucks, it helped maintain possession and create quick ball.”

NOVA’s next foray is against the South leaders, the Potomac Exiles. The teams were supposed to play in the fall, but the match was scratched due to unsafe field conditions. “We look forward to safely playing them next weekend in a match where playoffs are on the line,” Tropea concluded.

 

Men's Division II: 

The Raleigh Vipers cemented themselves as the team to beat in the Division II South. Raleigh decimated Washington at home to a tune of 103-5 that included dual hat tricks from Sean McFee and Romaen Campbell. After dropping their first game of the fall, the Vipers have won six straight and will finish the season at James River in two weeks.

Men’s Division III:

The crowded Division III Central was rocking on Saturday with five games. Six teams are above 0.500 and are separated by nine standing points. With only four teams advancing to the playoffs, Severn River’s 47-3 victory over Baltimore-Chesapeake catapulted them into first place and the Western Suburbs’ 24-19 win against former #1, the Washington Renegades, puts it into second. The Renegades fell to third and the Washington Irish moved into fourth with a 48-17 victory over North Bay. Rocky Gorge is on the outside looking in with a 37-24 win against West Potomac.

The highest profile match was the #1 versus #3 between the Washington Renegades and Western Suburbs. Suburbs took the fight to the Renegades scoring early and maintaining the lead throughout the game. Washington attempted a comeback in the second half, but the Suburbs’ defense withstood the attack for the 24-19 win.

“It was a great team performance, probably the best team performance we’ve had since I have been the coach,” Suburbs coach Stephen Cleary said. “It was two or three players’ best games. Everybody played well together. That has been our motto, one team.”

“Suburbs came out and smacked us in the mouths in the DIII game,” Washington coach Steven Davis said. “It took us a good chunk of the first half to wake up and start crawling out of the hole they put us in. We played much better in the second half and had them reeling quite a bit, but ultimately they were able to pull off the close win.”

In the lone North match, Schuylkill River ended its regular season by edging Brandywine by a point for the 23-22 win. While Brandywine has already secured a berth to the postseason, Schuylkill hopes to maintain its grip on the final spot in the North Red Division.

 

Men’s Division IV

Lastly in Division IV, the script was flipped as the Renegades handed Suburbs a dominating 54-5 defeat. Washington ripped off ten tries in the contest with Chris Norris and Stephane Leblois leading all try-scorers with two each.

“The key to our DIV win was intensity,” Davis said. “Whether it was hard tackles by our flanker Joel [Duberstein] or some crushing runs by our hooker Von [Allena], we showed real grit from all 15. Of note was our improved lines from our backs and our kicking has really improved as well. They played very well as a team.”

Additionally, Prince William County’s 53-12 win against Patuxent River moves it into second and the Washington Scandals picked up their first win of the season with a 60-0 shutout over the Baltimore Flamingos.