Christendom College captured the NSCRO 7s National Championship held at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship this weekend. The smallest school in NSCRO came back from a halftime deficit to defeat St. Mary’s College of Maryland 24-19 in overtime.
The Crusaders went 2-1 in pool play but thanks to a three team tie earned the top spot. Christendom defeated Colby and Wisconsin-Stevens Point to start 2-0 but slipped up against the New Mexico Highlands. Point differential, however, gave Christendom the top spot.
After finishing second last year, St. Mary’s swept through pool play, defeating Babson, Duke and Solano CC. The Seahawks then had to come from behind to defeat Wisconsin-Stevens Point to reach the finals.
St. Mary’s went up 14-0 at halftime and looked to be on their way to a title. The Crusaders could not get much going in the first half took a silly card that led to one of the scores.
The Virginia school refocused in the second half and Dan Snyman scored two consecutive tries. One conversion was missed, however, leaving the game at 14-12 in favor of the Seahawks.
The Maryland school stemmed the tide with an unconverted try with very little time left to extend the lead to 19-12. The Crusaders, though, worked their way down the field. They nearly reached the try zone down the left sideline but strong defense kept them out. Over a minute after the hooter sounded, they recycled the ball and swung it back to the center where Derek Casey scored under the posts. Joey Kuplack hit the game tying conversion to send the game to overtime.
The teams went back and forth in overtime for over three minutes. Mike McMahon spotted a gap and worked his way down towards the left corner of the try zone. A great recovery tackle prevented a score but Mike found his brother Joe McMahon for the game winning score and a 24-19 victory.
“To see our guys keep their focus and never lose sight of our goal, and to persevere from a halftime deficit of 14 points and to tie it up in extra time of the 2nd half was extraordinary. I couldn't be prouder of a better group of men,” said Christendom coach Jim Conrad.
Joe McMahon earned MVP after scoring the game winner and for his exemplary play all weekend.
“Joe is one of the humblest and hardest working men on the team. He is always asking how he can be a better teammate and leader. He is always the last to leave practice, usually staying after to run extra sprints on his own,” Conrad said of the MVP. “ His play reflects that attitude towards greatness, always looking to not only improve himself, but also those around him.”
For a small school with a male population of under 400 students, winning a National Championship means a lot. In fact, it was the first National Championship the college has ever won.
“As a program, we have so many supporters, weather its current students or alumni, faculty and staff or just people in the area who want to watch and support a rugby team. Its great to be able to grow as a program to the point where we can not only compete for a title, but win a title! To bring it home for all those supporters means the world to this team,” an excited Conrad told Rugby Today.