On a beautiful 70F and sunny day in early November Monmouth hosted the Rochester Aardvarks at Thompson Park. Despite their long journey, Rochester came out strong, putting pressure on Monmouth on our end. After several minutes of defending and failing to exit, Monmouth found ourselves down 3-0 after a successful penalty. A set of back-and-forth play from both sides, and a string of penalties gave Rochester a territorial advantage that they scored from, followed by a successful conversion putting Monmouth down 10-0.

Despite the Aardvarks’ strong start, Monmouth was unfazed. A line break from fullback Nick Wallace set Monmouth up in an attacking position. Tighthead prop Lopeti Tuipulotu would break the line two phases later and score, with a successful conversion from flyhalf Jack Connors, would make the score 10-7 in favor of the Aardvarks. After several more minutes of play, a penalty in front of the posts allowed the Aardvarks to extend their lead to 13-7. Shortly after the Aardvarks would continue a strong half of rugby adding another try, and after a failed conversion they led 18-7. Monmouth was down but answered the challenge. After several strong runs from the team, flanker James Jadacki dotted down in the corner. The difficult conversion was unsuccessful and Monmouth trailed at the half 18-12.

Monmouth would take the momentum of the late try into the start of the second half. With center Vallon Adams bumping off two defenders to score a try, and with a successful conversion from Jack Connors, Monmouth gained the lead for the first time in the match 19-18. After a successful defensive effort on our end, Monmouth marched down the field resulting in a try from wing Matt Zadrago. Following a successful conversion from Jack Connors, Monmouth extended the lead to 26-18. Shortly afterward Vallon Adams would strike again with an intercept try from our end. Another successful conversion from Jack Connors put Monmouth up 33-18. Monmouth would again score the next try with lock Marcus Foster blowing over the line, an unsuccessful conversion and the score was then 38-18.

Despite some strong defense on our end, Rochester would score off of a handling error from 5 meters out. A quick drop goal conversion and Rochester was still in it down 25-38. Monmouth would answer with another intercept try, this time from wing Matt Zadrago, going from halfway to dot it down under the posts. Another successful conversion gave Monmouth a commanding lead of 45-25 with little left on the clock. Rochester would still fight hard, capitalizing on a wayward pass, scoring under the posts to make it 45-32 after the conversion. That would be the final score of the match. A full club effort in the victory places Monmouth in the Empire GU D3 final, where we will host the Fairfield Yankees Saturday, November 12th at 1 pm at Thompson Park. The support in the postseason has been tremendous and we hope to see you all there once again! Onwards Monmouth.