St. Joseph's men's rugby team played for more than what the scoreboard showed in Saturday's Penn Mutual National Collegiate Championships at Talen Energy Stadium. After freshman Mark Dombroski tragically passed away in March while with the team in Bermuda, the Hawks will always play for their fallen teammate.
They did just that, in their third game of the day, defeating Mount St. Mary's 36-0.
"Obviously, we're playing for Mark," coach Dan Yarusso said after the game. "I think, in this game, the real MVP was Mark, our eighth man."
St. Joe's ended the day 1-1-1, tying Wisconsin in its opener, 17-17, and losing to Lindenwood, 36-12. The Hawks fell short of the Cup round.
Penn State men's sneaked into Sunday's Cup quarterfinals as the eighth seed. The Nittany Lions beat out Arkansas State and Central Washington based on the highest point differential. The Nittany Lions lost its opener to Life University, 27-0, but rebounded to defeat Notre Dame, 47-0, and then Air Force, 21-5.
The Temple men's team ended the day 0-3, losing to Kutztown, Iona, and Dartmouth. The Owls faced an uphill battle all day, as they trailed at halftime in all three games. Against Iona, down 14-0 at half, Temple rallied to tie the game at 14, but the Gaels scored 10 unanswered to win, 24-14. Facing a 26-7 deficit against Dartmouth, the Owls managed to make it a one-score game at 26-19, which held up as the final.
Drexel women beat Virginia, 25-5, in the Challenge Cup quarterfinals. The Dragons will play Kutztown in a consolation game on Sunday.
Temple women fell to Bloomsburg, 27-0. The Owls will play East Stroudsburg in a consolation match on Sunday.
Unfortunately, things could have been different for St. Joe's. The Hawks held a 12-0 lead against the Badgers and allowed a try with no time left in the first half. Then, up 17-12 in the final seconds, the Hawks allowed another try with no time left, enabling Wisconsin to walk away with the tie.
"I think we just got a little gassed," Yarusso said of the final sequence. "The ball stayed in play for a long time and there wasn't much stoppage in the game. That really drained our energy a little bit."
One thing that went unquestioned, though, was the Hawks' energy. Each player was pulling for each other, and the team is as close as ever.
"We have [this tournament] marked on our calendar early on in the year," Yarusso said. "The guys are definitely up for it. Added to that, everything that went on with Mark," he continued, "we really want to play in his honor and carry his legacy out on that field."
Lindenwood, Arizona, Dartmouth, Life, UCLA, and Navy have advanced to the Cup quarterfinals after winning their pools. Iona gets into the Cup quarters as a seven seed, determined by a tiebreaker.
In the women's semifinal on Sunday, Penn State will battle National Small College Rugby Organization and Life University will play Lindenwood