The varsity game was a back and forth affair as we lost to Salem by a 47-36 scoreline. Tries were scored by Keoni Hepa (3), Gus Sokol, and Christian Cruz, and Orion Crufta. We came into it with only 16 players, which proved to be a problem as we played for long stretches of this game with 12 or 13 players against 15. Salem scored early for a 5-0 lead, then we scored three times to go up 17-5. Then we suffered a couple of quick injuries as Lucas Gardner and Max Liubich both came out of the game and Gus was evaluated for a concussion (he returned later) leaving us with 12 players. Salem equalized with two scores and we went into halftime locked up 17-17. The stretch after half was decisive as we played 13-v 15 as we also lost Teegan Skupa to an ankle injury and Salem scored 5 tries in a 15-20 minute stretch. Then, when Gus came back into the game, we rallied and put in three tries in the next 15 minutes. Finally, Salem scored twice near the end to put the game away.
Our team showed some real character to rally despite playing short-handed. When we played with structure and held the ball, we put together some pretty impressive rugby and we consistently made it over the gain line (like the line-of-scrimmage in football). Our ball-retention was generally quite good as we maintained possession well despite being out-sized by Salem. Ultimately, playing short-handed proved too much for us to overcome in this game, but there was a lot of positives as well as our team. Our young halfbacks, Lance Outcalt and Will Flanagan, both played well and our talented back line had some nice moments with Gus Sokol and Finn Reeves picking up where they left off last year with some great running. In the forwards, our one big guy, Keoni Hepa, was a one-man wrecking crew but the whole pack played well against a bigger team.