Men's Rugby: Norwich powers past UMass Lowell 42-24, locks up No. 1 seed for playoffs

Michael Menn '20
Michael Menn '20

NORTHFIELD, Vt. - Senior Nate Rolling (Taylorsville, Utah) scored three tries on Senior Day to lead the Norwich University men's rugby team to a 42-24 victory over previously unbeaten UMass Lowell in the Rugby Northeast regular season finale at the NU Dog River Pitch.

Norwich (4-2, 4-1 Rugby Northeast) won its third straight Rugby Northeast regular season title and fourth straight overall regular season title with the victory. The Cadets locked up the No. 1 seed for the Rugby Northeast playoffs and will host Providence College on Saturday, Nov. 2 in the semifinal round.

Rolling scored Norwich's first two tries of the game at the 1:10 mark and the 8:00 mark to help lead the Cadets' offense to score 24 unanswered points to start the game before UMass Lowell could get on the board.

Travis Bartniski (Houston, Texas) scored at the 12:00 minute mark with a converted try by Jeffrey Minicucci (Bolton, Conn.) to push the lead up to 17-0. Michael Del Priore (Ringoes, N.J.) scored again at the 21:45 mark with Minicucci adding the conversion to make it 24-0 Norwich.  

UMass Lowell (4-1, 4-1 Rugby Northeast) scored at the 30:00 minute mark with Shawn Sweeny scoring his first of two tries on the day with a penalty try to cut the deficit to 24-7. Norwich was also assesed a yellow card on the play which forced the Cadets to play a man down for the remainder of the first half.

The River Hawks were unable to capitalize on Norwich being a player down though as Kyle Clark (Pataskala, Ohio) scored on the final play of the first half to push the lead back up to 29-7 heading to halftime.

Norwich scored again at the 49:45 mark with senior Sims Bostic (Griffin, Ga.) touching down for his first try of the day and then Minicucci added a penalty kick to stretch the lead to 37-7.

UMass Lowell scored back-to-back tries at the 60:48 mark and 65:15 mark with Sweeny adding another try and Kyle MacPhee scoring on a long run all the way from midfield to slice through the NU defense and cut the deficit down to 37-19. 

However, that's as close as UMass Lowell would get as Norwich put the final nail in the coffin with Rolling stealing the ball away from a UMass Lowell player and then taking it 50 yards to the try zone to complete the hat trick at 72:30.

UMass Lowell's Ryan Jones capped the scoring with a try in the final two minutes to make it 42-24. 

Norwich is now 25-1 in its last 26 conference 15s matches. UMass Lowell will take on Bentley in the other Rugby Northeast semifinal.