On the heels of a hard-nosed, gritty 15-7 Atlantic-North Conference Championship win over Mystic River, the Morris Men got back to work in preparation of their National Quarterfinals clash against Southern Conference Champions Life University. Following two weeks of training, the men headed to Pittsburgh, PA focused and prepared for the much-anticipated match-up which was heralded as the quarterfinal match to watch by Rugby Today.
Life proved to be a fit, well drilled side that was determined to play their brand of wide rugby. Morris’ defensive approach and fortitude stunned Life and at times took them out of their game-plan keeping the match close. A few unfortunate bounces proved to be the difference with Life taking a 17-3 advantage into halftime. The second half saw more opportunities for phase play by Morris; however, Life proved to be too much to overcome scoring another 17 points to Morris’ 10 resulting in a 34-13 loss for Morris.
A quarterfinal loss meant a Sunday morning match up with the Washington Irish who lost to the Detroit Tradesman, the 2016 D2 National Runner-up, in their quarterfinal match. Sunday’s match saw Morris playing down a few regular starters due to injury. Morris didn’t hang their heads, but rather banded together scoring on their first possession of the match tactically moving the ball down the pitch. Continued ball movement and cohesive play lead to four first-half tries and a 22-10 lead. The second half was nearly a mirror image of the first half as Morris scored four more tries and came away victorious with a 49-24 score line.
Winning Sunday’s match meant that Morris ended their 40th anniversary season with a top 6 finish in the country. Morris shared the 5/6 spot with their West equivalent the Little Rock Stormers. This finish is the best in Morris Men’s history and sets high expectations heading into the next league season.
The men would like to express their deepest gratitude to the coaches who have pushed and guided them throughout the season. Additionally, they are immensely grateful to everyone who has supported and donated to the team on their national championship run.