Maybe the weather will be nicer.
It could hardly be much worse.
Schuylkill River Head Coach Chris Ryan saw his team win the Mid-Atlantic 7s Championships two weeks ago in terrifically trying weather conditions.
The tournament was delayed a couple of times due to lightning. The temperature on the field was 115 degrees. And the delays forced his team to play a semifinal with very little rest. Somehow they survived the Maryland Exiles in that semi, and the Pittsburgh Harlequins in the final, to make it to the national tournament.
“Overall the guys played really well,” said Ryan. “They got through all those issues and toughed it out.”
Eager to prove wrong the murmurings around the country that MARFU 7s is weak this year, Schuylkill River will be matched up with YoungBloodz of Minnesota, Denver Barbarians and OMBAC.
“Denver and OMBAC have the history and a long tradition of doing well in this championship,” said Ryan. “And YoungBloodz is a very strong team. But our goal is to not be playing on Saturday night.”
Meaning he doesn’t want to play a Bowl Quarterfinal, and instead have the Cup Quarterfinals on Sunday morning. Either way, Ryan added, “we want to be playing for something meaningful on Sunday.”
In the MARFU final Schuylkill River were favored over Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh were on a high and had nothing to lose. As a result, they were a challenge. Now it’s Schuylkill River that knows little is expected of them, and they have nothing to lose.
Led by Pat Boyle and Will Knipscher, two “natural leaders,” said Ryan, and with Greg Ambrogi playing superbly, Dan Wright showcasing speed out wide, and former lacrosse player Bryce Pyle, a surprise crossover, Schuylkill River has talent. The key is, do they have unity?
The entire summer, the team has practiced as a unit only once a week, with the DC-area players training Tuesdays in Maryland and the Philadelphia-area players training Tuesdays in Pennsylvania.
But leading up to the National Championships, SR has ramped up the full sessions. They put in two sessions last week and another this week before the final run-through on Friday in San Francisco. The players have embraced the need for a further commitment in their nationals run; whether it will be enough we’ll see on Saturday.