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College of Charleston Steps Out in Carolinas

  • 06 Feb 2019
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Rookie Isabelle Carrigan-Broda / PC: Mary Truluck

The Atlantic hurricane season canceled a bunch of Carolinas conference matches in the fall, but since the Division II collegiate league contests a split season, there was more flexibility to reschedule in the new year. So 2018 ended with some questions as to which teams were rising in strength, but those answers are quickly taking shape now that the matrix season has resumed.

“The cancellations in the fall were more frustrating than inhibiting,” College of Charleston president Julia Piscioniere explained. “We were very ready to hit the ground running, but we only just kept being unable to play. I think this made us even more ready to get on the pitch and put into action what we had been practicing for months.”

The College of Charleston’s roster is smaller in size compared to years past, “but every player is so talented,” enthused Piscioniere, who is a key component of the leadership team. The president was cultivating a smoothly running program – liaising with the school, communicating event information, staying organized – so the team could focus its energies inward.


Backs captain Morgan Sweeney / PC: Chelsea Vondran

“Our two captains are Paige Bramblett and Morgan Sweeney,” Piscioniere introduced the senior forward and back leaders, respectively. “This is their second year being captains together and their dynamism, approachability, dedication and skill keep this team together.”

Coaches Butch Setser and Kris Graziano reinforce that structure, and together, the program is a good place for new players to learn the game.

“They have shaped us into the rugby players we are today, and honestly, they have shaped us as people,” the president lauded Setser and Graziano’s influence. “They are so dedicated and are true role models for us. They also know each of our skills so well and hone practice in order to exploit those skills.


Kristen Weeks, trailed by Piscioniere and Bramblett / Photo: Chelsea Vondran

“Our rookies have worked so hard all year, and all of them are amazing,” Piscioniere praised the two juniors and three freshmen. “Hannah Davis, our junior starting inside center, takes a two-crash better than any center I’ve seen in our league. April Williams, our freshman forward, is so versatile and is a great tackler. It is at the point in our year where it does not feel like we are playing with rookies; personally, I felt this way right from the start.”

College of Charleston built some momentum in the fall, banking a 62-0 matrix win against Appalachian State and padding the standings with a forfeit win against Western Carolina. The team retook the pitch in January for a mid-season friendly and fell two points short of the University of South Carolina, a DI Mason-Dixon conference team. And then last weekend, Charleston beat perennial power UNC Charlotte 95-5.


Emily Pelletier / PC: Chelsea Vondran

“Our team really is like a family and this is why we work so well on the pitch together,” Piscioniere reflected on Saturday’s win. “In practice we focus on the fundamentals and on running together as forwards and backs. We also work on staying dynamic. I was not surprised at our win because I know the talent we have on this team and how much each of us wants to win this year.”

There’s still much to accomplish, and Coastal Carolina this weekend will pose a big threat. College of Charleston’s matrix season ends against UNC Greensboro on Feb. 23, and then the team is sending three players – Davis, Taylor Jarrett and Emily Pelletier – to Las Vegas with the Carolinas GU Select 7s team. Players from Coastal Carolina (5), UNC Greensboro (3) and UNC Charlotte (2) fill represent the collegiate team, which is traveling with a Carolinas senior select side as well. Read more.

Details for the Carolinas conference playoffs have not been publicly circulated, but they’ll need to occur at least two weeks prior to the USA Rugby DII college spring regional playoffs on April 20-21. USA Rugby announced that East Carolina University is one of the regional championship sites, and the final stages (May 4-5) will occur at the Sportsplex at Matthews in Charlotte, N.C. Read more.

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