Cats’ success ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’

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Cats’ success ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’

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After a long regular season filled with close games and nagging injuries, men’s rugby is hungry for a national championship.

The team has won eight of its nine games, including key back-to-back victories against conference rival and national contender, the University of Rhode Island.

After starting the season with questions of size and experience and no national ranking, the Catamounts are now the New England Conference champions.

The club has attributed much of this year’s success to its commitment to improvement.

Head coach Declan Connolly said he’s noticed the team’s increased unity.

“The guys have come together well as a team,” Connolly said.

The team’s pre-season training camp has been a major difference between this season and previous ones, he said.

“We went away for five days, and that’s like five weeks of practice here on campus,” Connolly said. “It really gave us a great platform.”

The team’s small size has forced them to play smarter and faster, he said.

“We definitely play a more European approach,” Connolly said.

Senior captain Ben Kaufman shared his coach’s positive thoughts on training camp.

He added that the team has increased its level of commitment.

“We have more practices every week and more guys fully committed to the team,” Kaufman said.

The Catamounts’ persistent will to win can be summarized with the team’s favorite motto of “can’t stop, won’t stop,” he said.

The Cats aren’t looking to stop any time soon.

Having won their conference, Vermont now has a guaranteed spot in regionals.

The team is now set to face off against the winner of the Empire Upstate Conference in the Northeast Regional Championships Nov. 22.

If they advance, the Cats will play in the USA Rugby Division II National Semifinals at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina Dec. 6.