Non-result ending from Middlebury’s second spring warm-up game against Northeastern as the ref chooses to end the match with 16 minutes on the clock. At the time the game is cut short Middlebury is down by 13 to 19. The ref appears to have taken exception to Northeastern players talking back to him. Up until that point it had been an exciting game that saw Middlebury take an early lead into the half. Northeastern comes out for the second half invigorated and scores 3 tries in quick succession. With less than a converted try separating the teams it would have been a thrilling final 16 minutes but the ref’s call is the ref’s call and that’s what all players must adhere to. Middlebury’s sole try comes from fly half Dusty Attwood-Dupont ’13.5 and skipper Brian Sirkia ’12.5 hits the conversion and two penalties. Considering that it’s a warm up game for Nationals the final score is far less important than the experience gained playing against a strong team on their way to the DI National Championship.
Fantastic debut performance by the aggressively scrappy Nate Brown ’13 at flank. Ben “Sturgees” Stasiuk ’13.5 who has bounced around the park in terms of positions may have found a new home (for the foreseeable future) at lock where he put in a superbly gritty performance. Strong win for the 2nd XV in a 25 minute scrimmage against Northeastern’s 2nd team. An unfortunate series of events resulted in a lack of field availability and daylight thus the highly shortened 2nd team game. Still Middlebury dominated this portion and all of their players got some solid time on the park so all-in-all a worthwhile endeavor.
Full Report Below.
With Nationals just a few weeks away and the 28 man squad as yet unnamed, Middlebury makes some changes to the starting line-up that beat DI side Southern Connecticut last weekend. Vince Mariano ’14 starts at prop with Chris “Calves” Vandergrift ’11 on the bench; Nate Brown ’13 goes to flank with Ross “Bo$$” Berriman ’12 on the bench; Sturgees at lock, Drew “Mouse Jr.” Harasimowicz ’11 is rested completely; wingers Kennedy Mugo ’12 and Dane “Man Of” Steel ’11 start, Tom Campanella ’12 and Allan “El Naturel” Stafford ’13.5 are on the bench.
After a rusty showing last week Middlebury finally gave signs of the fluidity that saw them dominate the fall season all starting with the Middlebury pack. The forwards dominate the scrums, winning numerous northeastern put ins–great work by Mariano and Stasiuk to fill some big shoes in the tight 5. The blue pack continues to improve in the lineout with an almost perfect night on their own ball and some good disruption of Northeastern ball on a few occasions. With respect to first phase play amongst the forwards Middlebury has the clear advantage.
Where Northeastern really makes some inroads is the counter-ruck. For most of the first half Middlebury is unable to piece together multiple phases as Northeastern commits heavily to contesting the tackle situation, often finding success. Their efforts do also land them some penalties as players inevitably leave their feet in the rucking battle. Sirkia comfortably slots home one of these penalties in the opening minutes to give Middlebury the early 3 – 0 lead.
Middlebury absorbs massive amounts of pressure from Northeastern early in the half. The boys in blue set the defensive wall with a trained discipline and are equal to the challenge the Mad Dogs posit. With the wind blowing strongly against them Middlebury have some difficulty in fully clearing the danger when their solid defense produces the turnover. This leads to extended passages of play with strong running from both sides and some big hits that would make any highlight reel. Zach Bills ’11 and Nat “Sheed” Kelner ’12 pick up nominations for the hit of the day and, if the writer is being honest, a couple of Northeastern players put their hands up for that award as well. Of course one of your favorite defensive DJs Sam Harrison ’11 was dropping the hits all game long! Sam had to be on his game to keep out Northeastern’s inside center who has speed, power and a true rugby step.
When Middlebury finally compensates for Northeastern’s counter-rucking the momentum shifts in their favor and things really start looking as they did in the fall: phases strung together with proficiency. Powerful running by Ken “Justice” Mugo ’12 on the wing, breaking a handful of tackles on every carry. The MCRC mounts the pressure with 14 men as winger Dane Steel ’11 is hurt during an attacking wave. Middlebury calmly, confidently manages to hold on to possession running crashes and spreading the ball wide forcing Northeastern into a goal line stance. The Midd forwards crash it up on the right side of the field 15 meters out. From the base of the ruck Sirkia spins it out to Attwood-Dupont who sells the dummy and bursts past the goal line from 10 meters out. Easy conversion for Sirkia, 10 – 0 Middlebury three quarters of the way through the first half. Steel is back on his feet.
At half time Middlebury brings on Vandergrift and Berriman for Mariano and Bills; Zach Wither ’11.5 on for Dane Steel ’11. The pack continues to dominate on first phase but falters on a few kick-offs putting Northeastern in an attacking position that they capitalize on. Their surprisingly quick and skilled prop breaks several tackles and throws a dummy that leaves Middlebury at sea to create holes. A quick tap penalty by Northeastern leads to more confusion in the Middlebury defense and they score a converted try. 10 – 7 Middlebury.
The boys in blue fight hard to respond quickly and Sirkia smartly elects to go for goal after some well worked phases earn Middlebury a penalty. 13 – 7 Middlebury.
Northeastern bounces right back and scores another converted try. Misfielded loose balls and handling errors in the backs turn attacking situations for Middlebury into defensive scrambling. It’s a cold evening and the ball bounces awkwardly on the turf field. 13 – 14 Northeastern.
Middlebury make some changes bringing on Adam Schreiber ’14 for Geoff Kalan ’12.5 at fullback and Don Song ’13 for Sirkia. Middlebury still look to be in the game but the handling errors hurt them as attacking opportunities go begging. Northeastern wins a turnover and launch an attack on the weak side – it’s a footrace to the try line and between missed tackles and great speed by the Northeastern winger Middlebury loses out. The try is unconverted 13 – 19 Northeastern.
Middlebury is awarded a penalty near the attacking 40 and with 16 minutes left they look to be considering the lineout option or going for goal. Before they have a chance to decide the ref blows what sounds like the final whistle. He quickly explains his frustration with the Boston side’s comments and leaves. Both sides are left somewhat perplexed but with daylight disappearing the time available is used for a 2nd team scrimmage.
Line-up: Pappa, Powers, Mariano (Vandergrift 40), N. Kelner, Stasiuk, Bills (Berriman 40), Brown, Marshall, Sirkia (Song 60), Attwood-Dupont, Mugo, Harrison, Cmejla, Steel (Withers), Kalan (Schreiber 50)
- Tries: Attwood-Dupont ’11
- Conversions: Sirkia ’12.5 – 1 for 1
- Penalty Kicks: Sirkia ’12.5 – 2 for 2
- 1st cap (non-competitive): Nate Brown ’13
Spotted at the game: Joshua “Pipes” Hendrickson ’07.5, Dan Richards ’95, Connor Burleigh ’10.5, Blake Hinckley ’10