UConn Men’s Rugby kicks off the season today at 1:00 pm in Albany and is looking for its fourth consecutive victory against the Danes. The last two match ups between the teams included a 7-0 win by the Huskies at the Beast of The East Tournament, and a 72-15 win last Fall.
When asked what expectations he had for his team headed into the first match Coach Merola said “Both teams will be excited due to the nature of first game of the conference season. UConn has a whole new leadership team and we’re playing a much quicker faster style game. we are building the platform for the rest of the season and I expect some early game adrenaline jitters but hopefully we will calm down and concentrate on our ball possession and perform the basics well coming out of our first match. We ll especially be looking to establish some defensive intensity with our tackling and aggressiveness. ”
Coach Merola was also asked what he thought about the Albany team UConn is facing today. He said “Albany has gotten better and will provide us with a good challenge trying to contain their big players and stop their tight running game. Its Albany’s opening home game and they’ll be at full strength as opposed to being weakened by injuries as they were last fall when we easily won the match at UConn. We need to control their forwards and utilize our speed in our back line. Nothing will be easy so we’ll have to jump out and take control early or Albany will have the advantage.”
We also asked Coach Merola who the players to watch were for UConn this match. “Defensively I’m looking for big games out of our young back row players Derek Litty and James Courtney along with Matt Cozzi our inside Center and team captain. Offensively we expect we will do well with Nic Labranche breaking from the pack at #8 and Joe Phillips and Pierre Aguirre breaking down Albany’s defensive line. Going to be a total team effort this first game out so we’ll see how all the pieces fit together.”
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