By Nicholas Cousins
It was a beautiful weekend for the Plattsburgh men’s rugby team as they stormed into the Saratoga 7’s tournament. The team did not disappoint as they left with a perfect 5-0 record, playing with confidence and cohesiveness as they represented the North Country.
There were many great performances as the team swept their competition. Captain Mike Barbagallo led the team by example, playing through his foot injury, giving them the spark they needed. Barbagallo was proud of the team’s performance and their resiliency.
“We made outstanding comebacks against Binghamton and Brown University, being down 17-0 at halftime against Brown and winning 19-17,” Barbagallo said. “We really played as a team and we all bring something integral to the table. We all stepped up and proved who we are. This event proved to everybody what we can do and that we never quit.”
Barbagallo spoke to the confidence that his teammates carry into each competition, acknowledging their respective abilities. It is one thing to play the game, but it is another thing to play with the feeling that you can win. President Kevin Graber reflected on that drive and confidence that led the team to the win.
“We played great and didn’t let up until the whistle blew,” Graber said. “Three out of the five games we were behind at half and came back to win. When we play to our potential we can hang with any team.”
It was easy to see how much confidence was instilled in each of the players. Noah Lederman showed his leadership on the field, scoring numerous tries throughout the tournament with electric energy all day long.
Lederman spoke about his takeaways from the event and echoed the team’s confidence heading into TnT, the annual alumni tournament April 22. Held at memorial field, the event will feature current and former men’s and women’s rugby players head-to-head.
“I think the team played great. There were a lot of quality teams in Saratoga, but we knew that we had something to prove,” Lederman said. “There’s a couple more tournaments to end the season. Nobody is going to want to miss our 25th Annual TnT Alumni tournament.”
Lederman knows that Plattsburgh is a lesser-known team, but takes that underdog title with pride.
“What I took away from the tournament is that our intangibles set us apart from other teams,” Lederman said. “Most tournaments we participate in, nobody knows who we are, but that hasn’t changed the boys’ mindset going into each game. We are the kind of team to run through a brick wall and ask questions later.”
He also recognized the dedication of their coaches, Sean Morgan and Doug Ferris, saying that the team wouldn’t be where they are today without them. Looking to the future, the team hopes it can make this kind of success a constant.
The club anticipates another successful TnT tournament this year.