NEW ROCHELLE, NY – Penn State Rugby finishes the New York state sweep after traveling there for the third week in a row. After defeating Buffalo and Army in consecutive weeks on their home fields, the Nittany Lions traveled to take on Iona in New Rochelle for homecoming weekend.
Iona (3-4, 1-4 Rugby East) came out firing from the first minute and made it very uncomfortable for the visitors. After some back and forth play that saw Penn State turn the ball over after some nice phases down the field and a goal line stand by the Lions, Penn State (8-0, 6-0 Rugby East) marched down the field and center Selby Niu set up fullback Jimmy Haley for the first score of the day. Iona answered back a few minutes later and got the ball wide themselves and scored in the corner to tie the game at 5.
After some hard charging runs by both teams, lock Leo Van Buskirk scored a try from some hard work out of the forwards. Scrumhalf Jim Ronan connected for the conversion and put the visitors up 12-5 leading into halftime. “They put us under an incredible amount of pressure in the first half and we couldn’t get into our pattern. The message at halftime was we needed to be patient and to stick with it,” said the junior Ronan
The second half started the same way the first ended with some very physical play. Moments into the half, Haley was able to make a line break on a counter attack that set up flanker Rob Irimescu for a try under the posts. The conversion was true once more to put Penn State up 19-5. Iona wouldn’t go away easily and came down right away and off a quick pick in the middle of the field scored their second try on the day and with the conversion cut the lead to 19-12.
Penn State was looking to gain momentum back and found it in reserve back Kiefer Kei-Boguinard. His presence was felt immediately with his first touch of the ball as he went over for the try in the corner that took the lead to 24-12. On the next possession Kei-Boguinard then made a long break where he found center Joe Kelly in support who then found Haley who got his second try of the afternoon. Ronan’s conversion made it 31-12. The teams would trade tries at the end of the game for a final score of 36-17
“We had a gut check today. That was a grinder,” said Penn State head coach Blake Burdette. “Both teams played very hard today. We’ll enjoy this one and happy to go into the bye week with another win.”
The team will now have a bye week and then host a very formidable opponent in Wheeling Jesuit on Friday October 28th in State College. Kickoff time is set for 6 PM on the west side of campus at West Fields.
Penn State Lineup v Iona: 1. Jordan Crofts, 2. Cory Klems (Tom Capriotti @60), 3. Zach Barnes (Kevin Ndou @75), 4. Ryan Cornell (Ryan McNulty @35) , 5. Leo Vanbuskirk (Dan Featherston @53), 6. Rob Irimescu, 7. Malcolm May © (Christian Ricci @77), 8. Chris Burin, 9. Jim Ronan (Kyle Crawford @77), 10. Mike Dabulas, 11. Thomas Del Pino, 12. Selby Niumataiwalu, 13. Joe Kelly (Brad Pechin @77), 14. Connor Cassidy (Kiefer Kei-Boguinard @55), 15. Jim Haley
Penn State 36
Tries: Haley 2, Van Buskirk, Irimescu, Kei-Boguinard, Featherston
Conversions: Ronan 3
Tries: Mike Scarcella 2, John D’Allara
Conversions: Santi Mascolo
Halftime: Penn State 12 Iona 5