SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

April 27, 2013

Jean DePlacido column: Nekoroski gives rugby a try at Hamilton

Hannah Nekoroski had been an elite soccer player all her life, but after one year on the team at Hamilton College she began looking for a new challenge.

She found it in rugby and quickly caught on to the game, which is not an easy one to pick up. Now the sophomore from Middleton is addicted. Last fall she was named Continentals Rookie of the Year, an honor selected by her teammates, and most valuable newcomer’s MVP by her coach. She had 17 tries in six games for the Continentals, who came in second in the Excelsior League after losing to SUNY Cortland in the playoffs last October.

A rugby try is comparable to a touchdown in football, and an important part of rugby scoring. The ball must be grounded in the opposition’s in-goal area (end zone in football terms).

The club is off to a great start in the abbreviated spring season, which is far less demanding than fall. They posted wins over Amherst and Colgate. Nekoroski is a wing in the back line and still picking up the finer points of the game.

“The atmosphere on the soccer team at Hamilton was not what I expected it to be in a team sport,” said Nekoroski, who starred at Masconomet and also for the New England Aztecs. “I played my freshman year, but I was looking for something else. I knew a couple of people on the rugby team and after checking it out decided to join. It’s such a team oriented group, and we really have a lot of fun.

“I’m one of the wings in the back line. It’s comparable to an outside midfielder in soccer. The biggest difference is getting used to using our hands instead of our feet. That was a big transition for me, especially since I hadn’t played a sport that uses hands since my sophomore year in high school when I was on the basketball team.”

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