Last year, the men’s rugby team lost the New England Rugby Football Union division title to U.S. Coast Guard Academy. Now, 12 months later, the Bulldogs first XV will face off against the same team for a shot at the title and a shot at redemption.

After defeating bottom-ranked Trinity (0-4) by a score of 18-12, the Elis (4-0) are now tied with the USCGA in wins and losses but are behind in points. The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the North East Region postseason tournament on Oct. 25.

This Saturday’s game will be one of the toughest challenges for the Bulldogs this fall, given that they will play without two key starters who have been sidelined by injuries. All-Ivy inside center Andrew Williams ’04 is recovering from a collar bone sustained in the Oct. 11 game against Trinity. In the same match, South African fly half Rob Smith ’06 dislocated his shoulder.

However, the Bulldogs still have something to cheer for, with the return of their captain Matthew Pawlowicz ’04 and the club’s president Jason Park ’04.

“We are down couple players at the back,” Pawlowicz said. “But we still have a lot of good players, and I think the game will come down to which side wants to win more.”

Coming back from a broken nose, Pawlowicz will return to his regular hooker position and lead his team on the offensive end.

As a result of injuries, there will be a few adjustments to the starting back lines for the Bulldogs. Park, who missed the first four games of the season due to a leg injury, will start at his regular position as full back and strengthen the Bulldog defense. Matthew Reagan ’05 who previous played full back, will return to the wing.

“[USCGA] are probably going to be bigger [in size] than us,” Reagan said. “So we need to play not just fast, but smart. They are coming to our home, in front of our crowd and I think the pressure is on them, not us.”

Although all the Bulldogs have improved dramatically this season, Reagan still stands out as the most exciting player to watch on the field. He leads the team both in points and tries (5).

Fly half/kick Mark Marion ’03 will also return to kick for the Bulldogs, after missing the Trinity game. Against Fairfield on Oct. 4, Marion converted the first six of his seven tries and will again be playing a crucial role for the Bulldogs in what is expected to be a very tight game, especially during crunch time.

“Saturday’s game is going to be a battle,” Park said. “The game is going to be really tight, and the as much support as we can get for the boys may just make the difference.”

The game this Saturday will kick off at 1 p.m. at the IM fields.

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