OHIO CITY, Oh - Fresh off a National Championship run in 2022, the Rugby Cats appear to have not skipped a beat as they have been dominant in the first three games to open the new campaign. With dominating performances coming against Cathedral (IN), LaSalle (PA) and Bishop Dwenger (IN), the Wildcats have surrendered just one try in the early part of the season. The Cats put on a defensive clinic in Saturday's 43-0 win against the Saints in the Home Opener.
It was a cold and snowy afternoon from Ohio City as the Wildcats hosted Bishop Dwenger, with harsh winds beating down on the players.
As the match began, Bishop Dwenger demonstrated an aggressive attack that backed up the Wildcats in the early stages of the first half. The Saints were about nine yards away from scoring on the Cats, but a knock-on would turn the ball over to the Cats. This year's Wildcat squad is a speedy group and that was vital in setting up the Cats' first try of the afternoon.
Senior Aidan Miczak escaped a scrum 30 yards out of the try zone and used his speed to get inside the five-yard marker. A scrum would ensue at the try zone, where a relentless attack would open the door for sophomore Connor Bender to get in for a Wildcat try eight minutes into the match. Senior Aiden Pickston would nail the conversion to score 7-0.
With the harsh winds, the Saints took a line out by Miczak close to the try zone. The Wildcats would not allow an inch to Bishop Dwenger near their try zone and continued to push the Saints backwards, where they would be taken down inside the Wildcat try area. This gave the possession back to the Wildcats at the five-yard marker. A pitch to the outside zone from the scrum would create open space for junior Michael Krebs to get in for a try in the 14th minute of the game and a Pickston conversion would make the score 14-0.
With a line-out forthcoming for the Wildcats at the ten-yard marker, Miczak connected with Bender on a perfectly thrown ball. Bender stayed on his feet and continued to churn his legs alongside his teammates in the scrum and dove for the try zone for his second score of the match. Pickston's conversion was good to make the score 21-0 in the 33rd minute of the game.
With time expiring in the first half, Pickston kicked from the 15-yard line for a 25-yard kick. In the harsh weather, Pickston nailed the kick to make the score 24-0 Wildcats at the break.
The snow flurries turned into snow showers in the second half, but that did not affect the Cats as they continued to dominate on defense, not allowing any open space for a Bishop Dwenger attack.
Another Krebs would get in for a score, this time coming from the senior Kevin. As the Cats worked inside the 25-yard marker, Krebs received a pass and lowered his shoulder to break through a tackle and he was off to the races to score his first try of the contest at the 55th minute. It was a rare conversion miss this time around for Pickston as he missed just to the right to keep the score 29-0 in favor of the Wildcats.
The Cats were not finished as a barrage of terrific passing from Miczak and Pickston got the ball over to the speedster in Kevin Krebs, who would break through the Saints' defense once again. He would finally be taken down after going 40 yards down the field. The Cats would then work the possession over to Sam Chalhoub, who bullied his way in for a try at the 59th-minute mark. Pickston's conversion was good to make the score 36-0.
Michael Krebs would cap the Wildcats' scoring at the 66th-minute mark for his second try of the day.
Pickston would finish the match going 5-of-6 from conversions and the Wildcats defeated the Saints 43-0.
The Wildcats will have their biggest challenge of the season as they travel to Washington, DC, to take on Gonzaga Saturday, March 25, at 1:00 p.m. This is a rematch of the 2022 National Championship, where the Wildcats won the program's first National Title. The Cats will have one more match before traveling to Japan for three matches, as they will host St. Xavier at Wasmer Field on April 1 at 1:30 p.m.