After an intense 3-day camp of training and team bonding, the MCRC headed to Hanover, NH to play in the Granite Cup. Middlebury played in the highest tier along with Dartmouth, UNH and NEC.
Arriving with the understanding that MCRC would take on Dartmouth B, word made its way that Dartmouth’s First XV would be taking the field. After playing all the way to the D-IAA National Semifinals just five months ago, it is clear that Dartmouth is one of the top rugby teams in the country. But no fear! The Boys in Blue were not fazed and embraced the challenge of going against the best.
Middlebury kicks-off and begins nearly 10 minutes of dominating play. Dartmouth is penalized repeatedly and Midd finally gets some points on the board when Captain Brian Sirkia ’12.5 slots home the penalty. 3-0 Middlebury.
Middlebury looks great in the set pieces and constantly puts the Dartmouth pack under pressure. A few penalties against Middlebury release the pressure and half-time sees Middlebury holding a 3 point advantage.
The second half begins much the same as the first half ended. Middlebury plays with composed aggression and Dartmouth brings intensity to every collision. The Green are excellent at the breakdown and earn a penalty at the 11 minute mark. They convert to level the match at 3 points all.
Middlebury then elevates their level play and continually attack their oppenents try line. Several quick tap penalties only 5 meters out are defended well, including one held up in the try zone. Middlebury will surely lament not coming away with points on these repeated attacks.
The penalties pile up and Midd decides to kick for points again, but Sirkia is unable to convert on this windy day. Still 3-3.
At the 22-minute mark Middlebury wins a scrum just outside the Dartmouth 22. Clean ball from the pack and the backline is off to the races. Fullback Allan “El Natural” Stafford, ’13.5 steps thru and touches down for the try. Sirkia misses the conversion and the score stands at 8-3 Middlebury with the clock showing only 2 minutes to play. Surely victory is at hand!
The ensuing kick-off see Midd continue to attack up the field, but perhaps unnecessarily. The ball is turned over and suddenly the speed of Dartmouth’s back 3 is released, as they score a heartbreaking 80 meter try, touching down under the posts as time expires. They make the easy conversion for a 10-8 victory.
The final result is not the “W” that was hoped for, but all are pleased with the performance of the team, especially after only 3 days of practice. Middlebury has shown it can play with the best, and then some.
First XV: Cliff Hanich ’15, Sam Finkleman ‘ 15.5, Mike Wysota ’14, Ben Stasiuk (C) ’13.5, Andrew Jones ’12.5, Nate Brown ’13, Luke Dauner ’13, Laird Silsby ’15, Alec MacKenzie ’15, Brian Sirkia (C) ’12.5, Taran Veerman ’15, Dylan Whitaker ’13, Adam Schreiber ’14, Alex Ruocco ’14, Allan Stafford ’13.5.
Substitutes: Tom Lynch ’14 (for Andrew Jones)
2nd Game (vs. UNH)
As planned Middlebury makes numerous changes to the starting line-up so that everyone who attended pre-season get solid playing time. Middlebury easily crushes UNH 48-0. Full match report to come.
Starting XV: Cliff Hanich ’15, Mike Wysota ’14, Dylan Igoe ’15, Andrew Jones ’12.5, Tom Lynch ’14, Sam Murray ’13, Madison Stebbins ’14.5, John Hawley ’14, Vince Mariano ’14, Brian Sirkia (C) ’12.5, Taran Veerman ’15, Dylan Whitaker ’13, Adam Schreiber ’14, Geoffrey Genova ’15, Allan Stafford ’13.5