The Christendom Crusaders’ season came to a close in Philadelphia this past weekend, with the rugby team taking 4th at the NSCRO 7s National Championship. After battling through pool play on Saturday, they ultimately came up short in the semifinal game against New Mexico Highlands University.
Christendom entered the weekend with the #2 ranking in the nation, after a highly successful 2018-19 season that saw them earn two National Championship berths. The team, playing in their third-straight NSCRO 7s National Championship and riding high expectations, began Saturday with a resounding win over the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point 17-7. Their second match proved to be tougher, with the Crusaders matching tries with the University of Denver all the way up to the final minute. After falling behind, the Crusaders came back to tie the game, with the match ending 17-17.
In the final round of pool play, Christendom was matched up once again with the Claremont Colleges. After falling to them in the NSCRO 15s National Championship only two months before, the Crusaders entered looking for a shot at redemption. Claremont, last year’s NSCRO 7s National Champions, proved to be too much of a force once again, with the team defeating Christendom 14-7. Thanks to points differential, Christendom still made it into the semifinal round — their third straight trip to the semis, making them the only semifinalist team in contention to do so three straight years.
With the sun blazing on Sunday morning, Christendom faced off against New Mexico Highlands University, the #1 seed from their pool. Christendom gave their all, but the speed of the Vatos proved to be too much for the Crusaders. They fell 29-0, with New Mexico going on to win the National Championship later that afternoon.
Despite a 4th place finish, the Crusaders still ended the 2018-19 year with much to be proud of. The team earned their first #1 ranking in the fall — the first Christendom sports team to ever achieve that high a ranking. In addition to that, the Crusaders were also the 15s Cardinal Conference Champions, the 15s Region 2 Champions, and the NSCRO 15s National Championship Runner-Up and the 4th place team for the NSCRO 7s National Championship.
The team, made up of both returning and new players, fielded six NSCRO All-Stars, 3 First Team All-Conference players, 3 Second Team All-Conference players, 7 15s All-Championship players, and 1 15s All-Star Championship players in 2018-19. Despite losing seniors Tim Marra, Jerome Norton, Daniel Corkery, Joe Kelly, Kevin Kuplack, Tait Pilegaard, Jacob Cassidy, Michael LaRochelle, Thomas Ward, and Joe Peters, the team can be confident that they will find that success yet again next year, with the team firmly in place as one of the most dominant rugby teams in the nation.