MCRC completed another incredible Fall season by winning the North East Championship, beating Coast Guard 41 – 7 in the semi-final and UMaine-Orono 43 – 25 the following day in the final (the same two teams we had just previously overcome to win the New England title). This is our first North East title since the Angus Birchall and Jody Kramer-led side of 2002/03 and sees us qualifying as the #3 seed for the National Tournament “sweet 16″ on April 18 at the Seminole Soccer Complex-Sanford, Florida. This is our 3rd straight appearance at the big show, where we will look to extend our 11 – 0 record. Ike Levine reports on the epic NRU final win at Westpoint:
U. of Maine came out as a different team than the one we beat two weeks ago 34 to 0. The plastic field assisted their big centers to build pace to the outside and we, quite frankly did not tackle well in the first half. we were down by one point at the half. the first time this year that midd rugby has been behind at half. due to injury, we substituted two wingers and that made all the difference. in the second half i don’t believe there was one missed tackle. a pop kick by our loose head prop ended with a try, a quick lineout off a kick off the temporary crapper ended in a try, another deep kick bounding about went for a try.
Maine side hit hard and often. forward play was intense and no quarter was given. Cudo’s to Mike Pappa who has only played 5 first side matches who went up against the captain of northeast select side the entire day and held his own with pride and purpose….well done Mike. Our loose forwards were active all day and Ari Silverman ’09 at fly and Trey Stewart ’09 and Spencer Paddock ’09 in the centers were spectacular in the second half. Not an inch of territory was offered without a big hit. Spence outraced the entire Maine side to develop a long try…all with a torn labrum. Our skinny but awfully talented fullback, Andrew Peters ’08.5 was smooth and reliable…how does 150 pounds take the hits and keep on kicking…
I will say that our scrum half (Max Levine ’07) was the target of some head hunting all day and was laid out flat for several minutes in the second half……upon his getting up and getting mad, Middlebury scored 20 unanswered points including three penalty goals after quick takes on Maine penalties offered us ten free yards and placed us within Andrew’s kicking range.
The bench came in with substitutions and fresh legs. Robert Gosney ’09, recovering from severe high ankle sprain supplied dynamic rucking for the ten plus minutes that he spelled Izzy (Israel Carr ’09) with a blood time out.
The coaches deserve a big high five for the foresight to develop a squad nearly thirty deep. We are off to the round of 16 and the quarters (in Florida) and then onto the semi and finals at Stanford U (CA). We will need the full side to play through two very tough weekends. We will be losing our silky fullback and kicker to FEB. graduation but we get our former fullback (Brendan Leanos ’10) back from playing in Ireland (I think that’s where he’s been hiding for his term abroad).