Parents, alumni and friends of Zoomie Rugby, your USAFA men's rugby team started off collegiate play scoring three wins against quality opponents in the month of September.
First, on September 17th, the Zoomies A-side took on a tough University of Utah team that started off the Fall rugby season ranked #6 in the D1A poll, #5 in the Goff All-D1 Fall ranking, and #9 in the RugbyToday poll. To put it plain and simple, your Zoomies throttled the Utes 66-26. The Zoomies were led by a strong overall team defensive performance that shut down a Utah team that sported one second team All-American, Chad Gough, and one All-American Honorable Mention, Gabriel Ruflin. On the offensive side of the house, seven different Zoomies scored tries and C2C Braden Smith earned a hat-trick. Awesome job!
The second A-side game of the month was played in Logan, Utah against the Aggies of Utah State University on 24 September. Utah State is new to Division 1A this year after moving up from the Division 1AA where they made the national play-offs last year. The Aggies played the Zoomies very tough but the biggest opponent the Zoomies faced that day was the Zoomies. Turnovers proved costly and the Aggies made us pay for each one. Your Zoomies held together strong and played a much better second half to score the victory over the Aggies by a score of 29-17. C1C James Hanley was a rock on defense and was the key to an incredible goal line stand. C1C Grigor Kerdikoshvilli was the standout offensive player of the match with one try, one penalty kick and three conversions. Grigor was also named man-of-the-match by Utah State's team.
The third A-side game of September was played this past Friday against Navy (Navy doesn't compete in the D1A, but the Goff All-D1 Fall rugby ranking had them ranked at #6 at the time of the match). The Shea Cup was at stake and in a previous article I explained how important honoring the namesake of that cup was to both the Navy and Air Force teams. There was no other way to describe that game other than a grudge match. Young men, future officers, giving all they had for victory. Both sides saw injuries and on the Air Force side our captain, C1C Ben Burmester, took the worst with a nasty ankle injury during the first half. The depth of the Air Force bench was prevalent as C1C Dalton Welch filled the captain's shoes at incide center very well and played solid in the offensive line and on defense as well. In the end, it was the Zoomies' day and the Shea Cup will reside at USAFA until next year as the Air Force topped Navy at the end by a score of 32-31. Again, C1C Grigor Kerdikoshvilli made the opponent pay with 17 of the 32 Zoomie points on the day. For the second time this month, Grigor was named man-of-the-match by the opposition. Way to go Grigor!
The Zoomie Rugby Booster Club is looking forward to an exciting October with a kick-off against Colorado State University (ranked #17 in the D1A) this Saturday at 1:00 pm on the USAFA Men's Rugby Pitch.