October 12 - Week 6 of Friday Night Rugby features a top-10 Women’s Small College match-up between fifth-ranked St. Bonaventure and eighth-ranked Niagara Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Niagara University.
As the Bonnies and Purple Eagles are currently tied for first place, this match will decide the winner of the Upstate New York’s West Division. St. Bonaventure and Niagara are both perfect at 4-0 this season, having shutout Brockport, Clarkson, Fredonia and Rochester.
Leading the Bonnies is second-year head coach Meredith Pyke. She coached her alma mater, Rochester, from 2015-2021 before joining St. Bonaventure, and she’s served as the East Coast All-Stars coach since 2018.
“I focused more on building a great culture for us to be able to recruit to,” said Pyke. “I think we have come a long way, and I think we still have a long way to go.”
Abigail Beres and Kaylee Middaugh are the Bonnies captains, excelling in brand-new positions this season. No. 8 Makenna Ramsey worked with the Chicago Lions over the summer and brought back a positive mindset to the team.
Mia Popp and Harley Brown are two of the first-years on the team who have brought some rugby knowledge and speed to the team. Popp was a high school player at Orchard Park, while Brown is a walk-on.
The Purple Eagles have fewer players with high school experience, though wing Mackenzie Addley played for the Mississauga Blues in Canada and first-year center Emma McNab played for nearby Kenmore in high school.
Leading Niagara on the field is senior center Meegan White, the lone returning Purple Eagle to play for the Upstate New York Snow Leopards at the All-Star Championships earlier this year. Four of her Snow Leopard teammates will be lining up for St. Bonaventure.
Leading Niagara from the sideline is new head coach Dave Chapman, who joins the program after a decade coaching Colgate. He also helmed his alma mater, Ole Miss, before that. Chapman serves as the commissioner of the Liberty Rugby Conference, which he helped form, and has coached several all-star and select sides.
Written by Joey Knese