HOUSTON, TX – For first time in program history, Army West Point Men’s Rugby was crowned the D1A Men’s Rugby National Champions after powering past Saint Mary’s, 20-8, on Saturday night, at Aveva Stadium.
D1A NATIONAL CHAMPS! Army is Victorious Over Saint Mary’s
Army took control of the game from the opening minutes as Sean McNulty punted the ball down the pitch, landing just yards from the try-zone to set Army up for a line out. The Black Knights took advantage of the line out to create a maul, allowing Koikoi Nelligan to cross the line with a ball and giving Army the 5-0 lead. McNulty put the ball between the uprights extending the lead to 7-0 in the sixth minute.
The Black Knights battled with Saint Mary’s and came up with a penalty in their favor in the 14th minute. McNulty was successful on penalty conversion increasing Army’s lead to 10-0 over Saint Mary’s.
Army found itself on defense for the next minutes, holding the line as the Gaels looked to cross the barrier. The Black Knights showed off their strength on defense keeping the Gaels scoreless for the first 40 minutes of the contest. Before the clock hit 40 minutes, McNulty scored another penalty conversion for the Black Knight to extend the lead 13-0 heading into the break.
Out of halftime, Saint Mary’s scored off a penalty conversion and a try cutting Army’s lead to 13-8. Both teams battled for the next 25 minutes. Army was able to keep Saint Mary’s away from the try zone. Army made its way towards the other end of the pitch, looking for once last scoring attempt. In the 79th minute, Ben Kelly broke through the Gaels’ line to place the ball in the try zone, sealing the victory for the Black Knights.
Army won 20-8 over Saint Mary’s securing the program’s first D1A Men’s Rugby National Championship.