The Northeastern Maddogs has the better of the boys in blue as they put up 34 points on their home ground. Middlebury is only able to put 3 points on the board through a Brian Sirkia ’12.5 penalty early in the first half. Northeastern is a very athletic and well coached side that runs the ball well. If not for some amazing work by Middlebury’s back 3 on defense the score would have gotten completely out of hand. Few teams keep the ball moving through the hands as well as Northeastern. They use switches, dummy switches and skips to initially beat the gain line then the real damage is done: as the cover defense scrambles they keep supporting the ball carrier who works to stay on his feet and make small pops inside and outside to keep the play going.
Lots to be learned from playing a team of this caliber and Middlebury will be better for it if they respond correctly. Middlebury will also be bouyed by the performance of their 2nd XV who beat Northeastern 8 – 7. Man-of-the-match Sanders Mora ’15 scores Middlebury’s only try in the first half – the freshman has an absolute stormer entertaining all with his turn of speed and tackle breaking runs. The second half sees Northeastern respond with a converted try that puts them ahead by two points. Late in the game Ethan Vorel ’14.5 converts a penalty kick in front of posts to secure the victory. Great promise for the future!
Middlebury struggles in the scrums largely due to losing starting prop Vince Mariano ’14 to injury in the first play of the game. Jeremy Kallan ’14 comes on to replace Mariano and gives his absolute all but he also exits the game before full time through injury late in the second half which forces lock Nat Kelner ’12 to step up to the front row. Kudos to Kelner for holding his own in the scrum out of position.
The difficulty at the scrum means little clean ball for the new playmaker pairing of Sirkia to Don Song ’13. Normally it’s the other way round with Song at 9 feeding the ball to Sirkia at 10 but in an interesting switch Sirkia moves back to scrumhalf for the umpteenth time in his Middlebury career and Song moves to flyhalf for the first time. Unfortunately, we have very little opportunity to see what this old but new pairing can do.
The forwards did take advantage over the course of the game in the lineouts stealing several of Northeastern’s ball. However, whenever Northeastern wins their own ball and gets the maul going they cause no end of trouble for the Middlebury defense and several of their tries are a result of well worked mauls.
Forwards captain Rowan Kelner ’12 gives his all to rally his team with the chips stacked against them and there are some real flashes of Middlebury’s brilliance but Northeastern’s strong tackling, counter-rucking, clearance kicks into open space and hard chasing quickly turns defending in their own 22 to attacking in Middlebury’s half.
Line-up: Wysotta, Mariano (Kallan 1 – Graham 70), Hoffman, N. Kelner, Derrico, Risinger (Carlberg 75), R. Kelner (c), Berriman, Sirkia (c), Song, Mugo, Maher, Schreiber, Withers (Norton 65), Kalan
- Penalties: Sirkia 1 for 1