2018 Fall Week 1 Recap: The Fighting Irish Get Their First D1A Win

D1A Rugby: 2018 Fall Week 1 Recap: The Fighting Irish Get Their First D1A Win
Photo Credit: University of Notre Dame Men's Rugby Facebook Page

The University of Notre Dame hosted the University of Michigan in their first conference game of the year on Friday. While other east coast teams, continued their D1A preparations this weekend; including some teams from the Liberty Conference, who played their last tune up games prior to the official start of the season.

Notre Dame kept themselves busy in their first weekend at the D1A level. Their first match was against traditional school rivals Michigan. The Fighting Irish started strong, as they scored within the first minute. This would set the tone for Notre Dame as they went on to shut out Michigan, 47-0.

It was a dominating performance from the Fighting Irish, not only in attack but perhaps, more importantly, in defense. Heading into the weekend head coach, Justin Hickey noted that he wanted his players to set the tone defensively and create opportunities from turnovers. His players were able to oblige and have set a high standard for the rest of the year.

It was a complete performance as the strength of their defense matched their attack.  Led by Senior Dan Stone, who finished with three tries on the day, the Irish were clinical with ball in hand. Mike Matarazzo also proved to be a threat in attack crossing the line twice, proving to be the spark the Irish needed in the first stanza.

The University of New Mexico hosted their season opener against Texas Tech University on Saturday, with the Lobos putting in a strong performance at home to claim a convincing 65-5 victory. New Mexico were led in attack by Senior Christian Portillia, who scored five tries and earned Man of the Match honors.

Iona College hosted University of Massachusetts, Amherst, for  a cross over match between the I-95 and New England Divisions of the Liberty Conference. The Gaels came away with a 59 -15 victory over the Minutemen. Iona dominated the Liberty conference last year and look set to do so this year as well, after this impressive display.

Most teams in the Liberty Conference are still two weeks away from their first league game, prompting many teams to find preseason matches with teams outside of their division this past weekend. University of Stony Brook traveled to take on University of Albany in what would be a close but low scoring affair. Albany started the game slow but were able to rally behind their forward pack and came away with a hard fought 12-8 win. University of Buffalo played host to SUNY Cortland. It was one way traffic as Buffalo sent Cortland home with a  45-16 loss. In another preseason match, Syracuse University traveled north of the border to take on Queen’s college in Kingston, Canada. Syracuse tied Queen’s College 14-14 in their annual preseason game between the two schools. The Liberty Conference kicks off their official season next weekend with, but the majority of teams will get their season underway the weekend of September 14-15.