Wizards fall short of title

The Oswego State men’s rugby team played tough this year, but ultimately finished 40 minutes away from a championship. The Wizards fell to Colgate University, 31-17, in the championship game.

The Wizards, who entered the game on a five-game winning streak, were out for revenge, as they previously lost to Colgate, 22-20, in the second game of the season.

The Wizards were up at halftime, 17-5, as they shut down Colgate’s offense. Colgate, who went undefeated this season, scored the third-most regular season points in the conference with 190.

The second half represented a completely different game, however, as the Wizards seemed to let their guard down. The winners allowed a few long runs as Colgate took the lead. Oswego State could not put up any second half points against a stout Colgate defense, leading to the loss.

The Wizards played the game without two key starters, junior Tyrell Moore and senior Nick Holz, who were both suffering from concussions.

“Injuries definitely hurt us in the championship game, we had two starters out and I think that made a difference,” Holz said. “But we’re not using that as an excuse. The guys who stepped in played well.”

Despite the loss in the championship, the Wizards had a terrific season. The Wizards started off 0-2, with back-to-back losses against Hamilton College and Colgate. After the losses, senior captain Rob Ruhland decided to implement a new offense. The offense consisted of more switches and ball movement, which relies on forwards moving the ball up the field in pods.

Ruhland’s new offense was just what the Wizards needed to turn things around, as they went on to win the last three regular season games, clinching the number two seed in their division.

“The new offense really helped turn things around,” Holz said. “Nobody else uses it, so it gave us an advantage against our opponents.”

The Wizards scored a whopping 125 points in their last three games of the regular season, the most in the league during that stretch.

“The team’s performance during the season was outstanding,” Ruhland said. “It was Oswego State rugby’s best season in five years.”

The team’s outstanding play put themselves in a position to host two playoff games. The first playoff game was against SUNY Fredonia and the Wizards steamrolled them en route to a 31-0 shutout and a rematch against Hamilton College. The Wizards got their revenge and convincingly beat Hamilton, 23-7, advancing to the championship game.

“The win against Hamilton was huge for us,” Ruhland said. “We beat a team that had previously beaten us and we were able to experience the sensation of knowing we were advancing to the championship game. That was a sweet, sweet victory.”

The Wizards will lose three out of their four captains as they head into next season, as Connor Murphy, Julian Torriente and Ruhland will graduate by the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Ruhland’s departure will leave a huge gap in leadership, as he was portrayed as the heart and soul that drove this team to a championship. Moore will be returning and new captains will be chosen for the fall season next year. Until then, John Konrad and Alec Gladd will step in as captains for the spring season.

Holz believes that Moore will be able to step up and become the leader of the team.

“I think Tyrell will step up and really become a leader for this team,” Holz said. “Baldwin (Gladd) and Lil’ John (Konrad) will also step up, so the team is in pretty good hands.”

In addition to the captains, Coach Jim Clarke will be returning as head coach. The Wizards are looking for new recruits for the spring semester. Look for fliers posted in the dorms and Campus Center for more information.

The Oswego State Wizards enjoyed their best season in five years as they played for a championship.