In the Division II National Championship semi-final, Middlebury overcame Georgetown 45 – 18. An incredibly courageous effort by Middlebury saw them come back from being down 5 – 8 at half time; The MCRC scored 40 points in the second half, playing 10 of those minutes a man down.
Middlebury faces Wisconsin who surprised favorite and higher seed Miami of Ohio in the other semi-final 14-12.
For more details on all the games visit www.usarugby.org - for more info on the Middlebury game read on.
The first 15 minutes saw Middlebury dominating possession, scoring early with through a blindside break and great handling, #9 Max Levine capping off this superlative move. Unfortunately, Middlebury could not turn this possession and tactical field advantage into points and a great counterattack run by Georgetown saw their #7 run 30 yards, evading several tackles to score. Neither try was converted – score tied at 5 – 5.
Georgetown dominated scrumming causing trouble for The Blue off the first phase. Hooker Chris Mutty ’09.5 was brought on to help stabilize the front row (replacing Brett Woebler ’09.5) and though there was some improvement Georgetown still had the best of the scrums. The MCRC were also pinged for numerous penalties at the ruck (offsides, hands in, not rolling away) and one of these penalties resulted in a Georgetown free kick. Halftime scoreline 5 – 8 to Georgetown.
Halftime substitutions: Dan Chow ’09 for Drew Harasimowicz ’11 (second row)
The second half saw a different Middlebury side, showing the heart and determination that saw them through the previous play-off rounds. Brilliant running lines by Canadian center Brian Sirkia ’12.5 resulted in two tries for the freshman feb, both set up by the speed and vision of fly-half Nick Fager…and yes I said center…seemingly just to change things up The MCRC coaches decided to switch their scrum-half and outside center for this game; so captain and quaterfinal outside center, Max Levine ’09, moved back to the 9 position he played for the past 3 1/2 years prior to the Canadian’s arrival! An interesting and gutsy tactical switch by the Middlebury coaches and to their credit, it paid off. Sirkia converted his first try to make the score 12 – 8 to Midd.
Georgetown came right back at Middlebury and their pressure resulted in a penalty within kicking distance. South African freshman Ross Berriman ’12 received a yellow card for this infringement – a repeat infringement at the ruck. Georgetown converted the kick and for the next 10 minutes Middlebury played a man down. Score 12 – 11 to Midd.
Being a man down inspired The MCRC to play with a discipline and intensity that had previously only appeared in glimpses. They retained the ball in attack, phase after phase, and on defense they launched up on the Georgetown players, constantly forcing them back. Within the 10 minutes Middlebury played a man down they scored two tries through 8th man Trey Stewart ’09 (forwards captain) and inside center Ari Silverman ’09. Stewart’s try came after several pick and drives by Middlebury; Silverman made a break within the Georgetown 22 after dummying the pass left and capitalizing the space that opened up in front of him. Sirkia converted both tries, making up for the simple penalty kick he shanked left. 26 – 11 to Middlebury.
Berriman returned to the field but Georgetown were not done yet. Having not taken advantage of being up a man the Hoyas made a terrific break running outside, picking up 7 points with the conversion. 26 – 18 Middlebury.
Middlebury subtitutions: R. Kelner ’12 for Bills ’11; Gosney ’09 for Vandergrift ’11 (prop).
The substitutions injected life into the Middlebury game. After having had an earlier certain try disallowed for a knock-on, 8th man Stewart barrelled over for his second try of the game; Sirkia converted. 33 – 18 Middlebury. Stewart left the game soon after that wtih a leg cramp. Pappa ’11 replaced him, bumping Carr to second row and Chow to 8th man.
The MCRC drove into the Georgetown 22; Fager and Sirkia connected again for a second try by the young Canadian. The conversion made it 20 points on the day for Sirkia. 40 – 18 Middlebury.
Middlebury continued to apply pressure even with the game theoretically locked down. From a few meters out Gosney finished up the scoring with a powrful drive. 45 – 18 Middlebury. This is Gosney’s 3rd try in 3 games, the only player to have scored in each one of the play-offs.
Line-up: Carr, Woelber (Mutty 30), Vandergrift (Gosney 65), Tormey, Harasimowicz (Chow 40), Bills (R. Kelner 60), Berriman, Stewart (Pappa 70), Levine, Fager, Cahill, Silverman, Sirkia, Paddock, Leanos.
Spotted at the game: Jeff Harasimowicz ’07 (national championship winger), Sean Meany ’08 (national championship prop), Andrew Peters ’08.5 (NRU championship full back), Mike McKenna (Middlebury VP of Communications and The MCRC faculty advisor).