LOWELL, Mass. – The Norwich University men's rugby team picked up its biggest win of the season to date with a 34-26 victory over UMass Lowell in a battle of Rugby Northeast unbeatens on Saturday afternoon.
Norwich (4-1, 4-0 Rugby Northeast) sprinted out to 24-5 lead and then held on in the second half to fend off the River Hawks for the huge victory to remain the sole unbeaten team in league play.
Freshman Travis Bartniski (Houston, Texas), Paul Latona (Andover, Mass.), Nate Rolling (Taylorsville, Utah), Josh Knoll (Braintree, Mass.) and Josh Johnson (Argyle, Texas) each scored tries to lead the Cadets offense on the day. Jeffrey Minicucci (Bolton, Conn.) added a penalty kick to round out the offense.
Norwich took a 5-0 lead in the seventh minute with Bartniski scoring an unconverted try. Latona scored in the 20th minute to increase the lead to 10-0. UMass Lowell cut into the deficit in the 27th minute with an unconverted try to make it 10-5. Rolling increased the lead to 17-5 with a converted try by Rolling. Knoll closed the scoring for the half in the 35th minute another converted try to make it 24-5 heading to halftime.
UMass Lowell (2-1 Rugby Northeast) opened the second half with a converted try to cut the deficit to 24-12. Minicucci connected on a penalty kick in the 65th minute to increase the lead to 27-12.
UMass Lowell scored three tries in the last five minutes with one in the 75th minute, 78th minute and 79th minute, while Johnson scored his to briefly make it 34-19 before two more tries from the River Hawks late.
The Norwich second side lost 32-31 on the last play in a full 80-minute match.
Norwich will travel to Saint Michael's next Saturday for another league game.