The University of Maryland recorded their first victory of the Atlantic Coast Rugby League, beating Clemson 26-17 on Saturday.
Flyhalf Matias Cima slotted three penalty goals in the first half, and those kicks proved to be the difference in a competitive match.
"Going into the game I had a little bit of trepidation because we hadn't played a full-length game and hadn't played particularly well when we did get on the field," said Maryland Head Coach Jeff Soeken. "And Clemson was the team I was as worried about as anyone. But the boys played well and we got good tries at key times. Clemson was tough, and they took us out of our comfort zone but we played some good defense when we needed to."
The Terps were smart enough to take points when they were on offer, and Cima slotted penalties at 3 minutes and 22 minutes. Clemson got on the board at 30 minutes when wing Tyler Blaser scored, but Cima put his side up 9-5 with another goal four minutes later. With time up in the first half Maryland won a lineout and punched it up with the forwards. Then scrumhalf John Davis sniped around the outside of the ruck to score a key try and give Maryland a 14-5 lead.
Clemson did well to regain the momentum in the second half, putting in a try from lock Joey Kingerski and then another from center Nolan Courvell. Stefan Friend's conversion put Clemson up 17-14.
But Maryland ended the stronger, scoring two tries in the closing minutes. No. 8 Keith Sneddon's try gave Maryland the lead 19-17, and then with only a couple of minutes to go, Davis ran week and fed fullback Trevor Tanifum, and the #15 ran 80 meters to score the back-breaker under the posts. Cima hit the conversion to put Clemson outside the close-loss margin.
"The goal we've set ourselves is to retain the ACRL title," said Soeken. "This was a good start."
Maryland goes to 1-0, Clemson 1-1 in league play.
Tries: Davis, Sneddon, Tanifum
Pens: Cima 3
Tries: Blaser, Kingerski, Courvell