LEXINGTON, Va. - The Wheeling Jesuit rugby team opened the spring portion of its season with a gritty 33-26 last-minute victory against the Virginia Military Institute.
The win brings the Cards combined season record to 6-1-1.
Going into the match, WJU Coach Eric Jerpe knew the Cardinals would have a fight on their hands in the Keydets.
"Credit to VMI, as expected, they were very fit and very physical,'' he said. ''Like any military school, they make their physical training a profession I'm very proud of our resiliency. We made it hard for ourselves, but kept the pressure on for all 80 minutes."
Though both teams suffered handling errors, a result of the cold weather and break between seasons, it didn't take the Cardinals long to get on the scoreboard. After applying consistent pressure, WJU outside center Jamie Barlow received a flat pass in space and took advantage of the overlap in the defense to race in 20 meters untouched for the first try of the match, and the first of his two tries on the day.
VMI made it known they would not roll over in this match, however. Fifteen minutes after Barlow got the Cardinals on the board, WJU found their backs against the VMI line with the Keydets' physically imposing group of forwards inching the ball forward. Though the Cardinal defense was stout, their line couldn't hold off the constant battery of phases VMI strung together, resulting in a Keydets try in the 15th minute, tying the game at 7-7..
Following the try, VMI kept applying pressure again with their forwards, and again, WJU found themselves deep in their own territory. WJU's Dante Walters was then shown a yellow carded for a high tackle, just meters off the line. The referee awarded VMI a Penalty try for the infringement, and gave the Keydets a 14-7 advantage.
Though the Cardinals were generally undersized across the board, what they lacked in heft they made up for in speed and agility. After two VMI tries, The Cards would come storming back when Peter Malcolm, a Junior All-American nominee, broke away with the ball on the blind side of a maul. Once free, Malcolm sprinted 20 meters for the try, palming off defenders left and right on his way. The conversion kick missed however, and VMI held the 14-12 lead with only minutes to play in the first half.
N.C. Wesleyan 4
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Ashlee Brill and Emily Jump both knocked in two runs for Bethany.
Maria Vallone added two hits for the Bison (2-2).
Mount St. Vincent 5
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Sam Newfrock connected twice, but it wasn't enough as Bethany fell in its first game of the day.