(Photo provided by Mr. Blaszko)
UConn 48 – Tufts 26
UConn opened Liberty Conference first match with a victory over Tufts 48-26. UConn jumped out to an early lead 28-0 at the 30 minute mark then Tufts fought back before end of 1st Half with their 1st score to make it 28-7. UConn added PK to end half ahead 31-7. Warm sunny day was tough for both sides with agreed upon water break at 20 minute marks. UConn made several subs to begin 2nd half but Tufts was more than ready after the break and scored quickly on misplayed kickoff reception by host team and Tufts put their 2nd try on the board 2 minutes into the half. Conversion missed… UCONN lead cut to 31-12. Tufts continued to play tough and began to gain momentum and teams traded tries at the 50 minute mark as UConn lead 38-19. Quick hard running by UConn backs lead by senior Captain Joe Phillips (2 tries) and freshmen Shane Palmer (2 tries) resulted in another try/con at 65min then hosts added PK to take 48-19 lead into last 10 minutes. UConn inserted last few players of 23 man roster as heat played major role. Last minute of game UConn was awarded PK at Tufts 22m and decided to run but lost ball in the ruck and a determined Tufts side took ball down field and earned a well-deserved try as full whistle blew. Final UCONN 48- Tufts 26
UConn was able contain Tufts hard running forwards for most of game and had upper hand in open field play with all tries being scored by backline players.
UConn Coach Bob Merola: “We were happy to see our open running game and ball possession working well while building first half lead. Knowing Tufts, we knew game was far from over and we had to work hard in second half to hold back a more determined Tufts team. We need to continue striving for hard quick pace of 80 minute D1 game but our overall fitness wasn’t where we need to be so looks like little fitness work in training sessions will be one goal over next 2 weeks before we tackle next Liberty Conference opponent UMASS.”