Middlebury had a good outing at the Newport Sevens this past Saturday winning their opening game and losing the next two games by small margins. The team comprised several current players and young alumni and finally this Middlebury group has begun to adapt to the sevens style: moving the ball and avoiding contact on offense. Amazing job by team captain Michael “Renaissance” Pappa ’11 in organizing and leading the team.
In the first game against Newport White, The MCRC has great possession but fails to capitalize and some defensive errors see them go into halftime down 10 points after two unconverted tries by Newport. DJ Sam Harrison ’11, the hitmaker, comes off the bench for Stevie “Flow” McKenna ’13 at scrum-half – with only 8 players available for this game this is only sub Middlebury can make. With Harrison’s energy the boys in blue begin to capitalize on their opportunities. First Muchadei “The Spaniard” Zvoma ’07 breaks a couple of tackles from a near standstill and runs half the length of the field. Fly-half Jack Maher ’12 converts to pull Middlebury within 3. Winger John “Escuter” Hawley ’14 chases down a loose ball and makes a great pick-up and pass to Zvoma, who has no one in front of him but fumbles the pass. Thankfully Connor Burleigh ’10.5 is able to clean up the mess and touch down. 12 – 10 Middlebury as Burleigh is unable to convert. To make up for his earlier botch Zvoma picks up a loose ball inside the Newport half and shows a predictable turn of pace. 19 – 10 Midd is the final score after Zvoma converts his own try.
By the second game against Hartford, there are some recruits with Charlie Zabriskie ’04.5 arriving to start in the backline, giving Maher a needed break after his yeoman’s effort in the first game. Brendan Mahoney ’11 and Sam “Silent Assassin” Murray ’13 arrive after the opening whistle to add numbers to the bench. Murray is needed on the field soon after arrival with prop Burleigh suffering an early injury. Burleigh’s injury kept him out of this game but he was good to go by the third game of the day. Murray, a flanker by trade, does a solid job in the 3 man scrum. Slow start for The MCRC as they again fail to capitalize on possession and falter in defense. 0 – 14 at half-time. Maher comes on for Zabriskie. The second half again sees a rejuvenated Middlebury side but their one converted try is too little too late. Mahoney comes on late in the half for Zvoma. 7 – 14 Hartford.
With one win and one loss Middlebury advances to the Plate play-offs (the 2nd tier) but in their quarterfinal game they are outplayed by a more experienced and physical side. A few minutes into the first half with the opposition already in the driver’s seat Zvoma limps off the field with a dislocated toe. Middlebury pulls back a pair of tries in the second half thanks to great work by the entire team lead by great running from Maher and Hawley. Final score 14 – 28.
Roster: Mike Pappa ’11, Pat Ford ’10, Connor Burleigh ’10.5, Sam Harrison ’11, Steve McKenna ’13, Sam Murray ’13, Brendan Mahoney ’11, Jack Maher ’12, Muchadei Zvoma ’07, John Hawley ’14, Charles Zabriskie ’04.5
Spotted-at-the-game: Matt Volz ’07 (former MCRC captain, starting fly-half for tournament favorites The Dark Side), Epeli Rokotuiveikau ’04 (former All-American), John Phillips (MCRC head coach) and his wife Phyl Phillips, the Pappa crew