Middlebury Rugby moves to 4-0 on the season after a dominating 91-7 win over UAlbany. The MCRC applied constant pressure for 80 minutes, scoring 13 tries from 10 different players. Alex Ruocco ’13 celebrated his first start with a hat trick, while Captain Brian Sirkia ’12.5 led the scoring with 31 total points (1 try, 2 penalties, 10 conversions.)
Many MCRC alumni were on hand to watch the fireworks, and all agreed that the Boys in Blue are looking good! It was a full day of rugby as the alumni took the pitch for some rugby themselves in our annual “Old Boys Game” following the A and B matches. Special thanks to Chris Mutty ’09.5 who refereed the B-side and Alumni games. Thanks, Chris!
The MCRC awoke before dawn and journeyed up to the Essex Tree Farm to meet Albany. The team arrived as the sun appeared over the trees and mist rose off the pitch. It promised to be an epic day.
Coming into the game ranked 16th in the nation (sandwiched between Florida and LSU), the MCRC aimed to make a statement and wasted no time doing just that. After receiving the opening kickoff, unstoppable forwards play and quick, creative back line passing moved the ball the length of the field for the opening possession. The drive culminated in a try for wing Jebb Norton ’13.5 at the 5 minute mark. Captain and All-American flyhalf Brian “Insert Accolade Here” Sirkia ’12.5 converts. On the ensuing possession, the Blue pull out a mesmerizing phase, taking the ball 60 m with exceptional support running and draw a penalty; Sirkia nails the conversion to make it 10-0.
The crowd, stacked with venerable MCRC alumni, waited ten minutes before the next MCRC try – the longest the Blue would play without scoring the rest of the day. Sensing their impatience, senior fullback Allan “El Natural” Stafford did what he does best: astound. Receiving the ball after crushing pack play demoralizes the opposition, Stafford splits two defenders, shakes off a third and gallops into the open field. With two men left to beat, he chips the unsuspecting defenders and torches them in the footrace to the try-line, touching it down. The score is 17-0 following a Sirkia conversion (get used to that).
The next try comes just 4 minutes later after another long drive. The Blue run a seamless line-out, with the ball coming off the top into the able hands of scrumhalf Alec “skin and bones” Mackenzie ’15 who, with the help of Sirkia, orchestrates a perfect set piece that ends in a try for wing Alex “Coco” Ruocco ’14 in his first A-side start. Naturally, Sirkia converts. 24-0 at 20 minutes in.
A frustrated Albany side begins to make mental errors. The Albany inside center is banished to the sin bin for multiple high tackles at a very inopportune time. Tasting weakness with blood already in the water, the Middlebury pack takes over, mauling 20 meters with lock Captain Ben “Sturgees” Stasiuk ’13.5 delivering the finishing blow. 29-0 at 26’.
Once again the Blue receive and dictate the pace of the game. With Albany struggling to keep up with a fitter, faster MCRC, the Blue quickly shuttle the ball to the wing finding prop Cliff “The Kracken” Hanich ’15 right where they want him. Seeing the open field in front of him, Hanich rumbles to top speed, taking the ball 30 m and flattening a few unfortunate would-be tacklers in the process. Returning to a winning strategy, the Blue maul 10 m until 8-man Laird “Godzilla” Silsby ’15 peels off and dives over the try line. Midd leads 34-0 at 32’.
With the half drawing to a close, the super-senior best buddy tandem of lock A.C. Jones and Brian Sirkia look to get in on the try fest. Jones finds the ball and some space, and drops a beautifully unselfish offload to Sirkia, who punches over the line for the try. Sirkia does what he does best and converts to make it 41-0 at the half.
The Blue know they have a resilient opponent in Albany, and though halftime sees several personnel changes, the determination, focus, and energy remain unwavering. Don Song ’13 replaces Mackenzie at scrum half, and Tom Lynch ’14 comes in for Jones at lock.
After a bracing halftime speech, inside center Dylan “BlackWells” Whitaker ’13 leads by example, juking half the Albany back line and gouging them up the middle for a solo try within the first minute of play. Sirkia converts, 48-0 at 41’.
The Blue never let up. A string of breathtaking passes sees Stafford send the speedy winger Coco in for his second try. Obviously Sirkia converts, 55-0 at 52’.
Nate Brown ’13 comes on at flanker, replacing Griffin Jones ’16, a staple in the rucks all day. Cole “I cannot tell a lie” Baker ’16 relieves Hanich at prop. Thinking of field position, Song crushes a box kick 60 m. He wasn’t thinking of Coco’s speed. Coco outpaces everyone on the pitch, including the Albany back three who had substantial head starts, to collect the ball and touch it down for an all-out-hustle try and a hat trick on the day. Sirkia drills the conversion from the touch line, 62-0 Midd.
Aggressive defense by Silsby is deemed too aggressive and the 8-man is yellow carded for playing the ball on the ground. Albany attacks and work they way down the field. After a few minutes of goal line standing lead by defensive lynchpins Whitaker (13 tackles), blind-side flanker Luke Dauner ’13 (6 tackles), and Stasiuk (5 tackles), Albany finally roots out a chink in the Blue’s armor, scoring their first and only try and bringing the score to 62-7.
Madison “I’m not a Lax Bro, bro” Stebbins ’14.5 comes on for his classmate, hooker Sam “Quads” Finkleman. Sirkia knocks in another penalty bringing the tally to 65-7 at 68’. On the heels of the conversion, the Blue pack delivers again, mauling and hammering until Brown dives between the legs of an Albany defender and over the line. 72-7 MCRC at 69’ after Sirkia converts.
Astor “Dance of the Elves” Carlberg ’13.5 replaces Stasiuk at lock, and Taran Veerman ’15 relieves Norton on the wing. After waiting to get in on the action all game, Veerman immediately displays his speed, burning several defenders and scoring at 70’. Sirkia, again, converts. 79-7.
Outside center Adam Schreiber ’14, a stalwart tackler and composed kicker all game, channels his spidey-sense, picking off an errant Albany pass and hoofing it 60 m with defenders in hot pursuit. Schreiber finds an extra gear, edging the opposition out and diving (read: collapsing) into the try zone. 84-7 Blue at 73’ after Sirkia converts (we told you to get used to it.)
Not to be outdone, Don “Is It The Shoes?” Song finds a gap in the Albany defense and charges over for a try of his own. Sirkia converts (if it ain’t broke…), making the score an absurd 91-7. The game ends quickly thereafter, wrapping up one of the most completely dominant performances in MCRC history. On to American International College next week.
First XV: Hanich, Finkelman, Wysota, Stasiuk (C), Jones, Dauner, Jones, Silsby, MacKenzie, Sirkia (C), Ruocco, Whitaker, Schreiber, Norton, Staffor
Reserves: Lynch, Stebbins, Brown, Baker, Nummelin-Carlberg, Song, Veerman, Yappert
First start: Jones, Ruocco
First try: Veerman
Alumni spotted at the pitch: Chris Davis ’76, Tyler Williams ’06, Sean Meany ’08, Spencer Paddock ’09, Chris Mutty ’09.5, Ed Cahill ’09.5, Sam Harrison ’11, Zach Bills ’11, Drew Harasimowich ’11, Chris Vandergrift ’11, Darragh Hurley ’11, Rowan Kelner ’12, Geoff Kalan ’12, Dillon Hupp ’12