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Category Archive for 'Match Reports'

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


The MCRC 41 – 0 Norwich

Middlebury puts on a terrific performance in their only home game of this spring against a spirited Norwich. It’s a perfect day in sunny Vermont and the crowd in attendance is not only entertained by the quality rugby on the field but the debut performance of the Middlebury Pep band, kicking off the game with a great rendition of the national anthem.

Middlebury dominates the first half but as the half wears on they play into Norwich’s smash it up style getting caught up in wrestling matches. The half time score suggests a close game but the second half sees a much smarter Middlebury side carving up the defense and running up the score. Amazing defensive performance by freshman lock Blake Shapskinsky ’15, absolutely dominant. Dylan Whitaker ’13 at center is strong in contact and ever-present in support, keeping the offense rolling.

Full report below with video highlight links [click here for all video highlights] :

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The MCRC kicks off their spring friendlies with a strong showing against Dartmouth’s 2nd team. For an inexperienced side, Middlebury puts together some great attacking phases. There is a lot of individual talent on the side but the most promising factor is the team’s ability to link together phases, switching from a forwards’ pick ‘n’ drive affair to spreading it wide amongst the backs.

Tries by outside center Adam Schreiber ’14, lock Blake Shapskinsky ’14 and fullback Allan Stafford ’13.5. Sirkia goes for 3 for 3 on the conversions and opens the scoring with a penalty. First starts for several players including wingers Dave Stillman ’14 & Jared Onouye ’14 competing in their first rugby games ever, as is Shapskinsky. Returning from a long injury lay-off flanker Luke Dauner ’13 puts in a noteworthy performance, setting the tone on defense.

Amazing facilities at Dartmouth and great hosts. Middlebury is looking forward to this being an annual affair as we look to catch up with a program that is easily the best in New England. Full report below.

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In the first East Coast Rugby Conference 7s tournament the MCRC makes it to the semi-final, where they lose to the University of Albany 7 – 12. Boston College ends up overall winners after they pull out the performance of the tournament beating favorites Northeastern. Great day of rugby for all teams involved and Middlebury Rugby would like to extend a very big thank you to the Middlesex Barbarians for hosting the event, to John Durant, UAlbany coach, for organizing a very well run tournament and to the Harrison family for hosting our entire team!

Middlebury starts the day off at a disadvantage having lost influential back Jack Maher ’12 the day before leaving them with a man fewer than the other teams. Still, spirits are very high amongst this young team and they are more than up to the task of representing Middlebury Rugby. The 11 man side is led by scrum-half Don “The Shoes” Song ’13 and opens their tournament with a convincing win over Southern Connecticut 19 – 7.

Full report below:

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The MCRC 10 – 15 Boston College

Middlebury ends their first regular season in DIAA with a close loss to BC making it 3 and 3 for the year. The game is one of two halves: the first is BC’s, the second is Middlebury’s but the boys in blue leave themselves too much to do in the final part of the game to cut down the original 15 point deficit.

Middlebury has a fair amount of possession in the first half but they struggle to break the disciplined BC defense. Conversely, BC takes their chances. The MCRC makes a change early in the first half to move captain Brian Sirkia ’12.5 to flyhalf and from then on Middlebury is camped in the BC 22 picking up two tries. The first comes through sophomore John “Scooter” Hawley ’14 and the second from Sirkia. It’s a nail-biting end to the game as Middlebury continues to threaten in what would be a phenomenal comeback. Alas, today is not their day. Outstanding performance by Middlebury’s seniors in their final games particularly hooker Daniel Jerome Finley Powers ’11.5 and winger Zach Withers ’11.5.

Full report below:

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The MCRC 43 – 5 UConn

With a jubilant crowd of alumni in support Middlebury improves to 3 and 2 with an emphatic win over the University of Connecticut rugby team. The boys in blue look sharp and refreshed after their bye week though they are still missing key players from the team who some were expecting to see back in the line-up. Their less experienced players take huge steps forward and fans of The MCRC will be well pleased with the performance of this young team.

Out to prove that they are as dangerous with the ball in hand as they are rugby tacticians with the boot goal-kicker Brian “Try-Guy” Sirkia ’12.5 reminds everyone of why he picked up the cognomen upon his arrival with a pair of tries and touch-finder Adam “Scrumcap” Schreiber ’14 also picks up the brace. The outside center sophomore is really coming into his own as his decision making on when to move the ball and when to move his feet is ever improving. That said, it is not just the points scorers who deserve mention. Two players in their first years of regular 1st team rugby really standout on this occasion: lock Nick Derrico ’12 and inside center Jebb “The Febb” Norton ’13.5.

The Middlebury 2nd team completes a fantastic day of MCRC rugby with a win over UConn’s 2nd team. Fullback Landers Carnal ’12 and prop Steve Etna ’15 standout.

Full 1st team match report below:

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A new wrinkle has been added to the alumni game meaning now these men of legend are pitted against each other on alumni and student mixed teams – as the score suggests this makes for a much more competitive affair. The White team dominates contact through MVP Zach “Business Casual Jr.” Bills ’11 and Chris “Shark” Marshall ’11. Flyhalf John Moretti ’95 distributes the ball amongst his skilled backline with poise. The Blue team rallies in the dying minutes, under the auspices of Craig “Sparta” Wilson ’07, Chris “Calves” Vandergrift ’11 and Josh “Pipes” Hendrickson ’07.5, with two impressive tries but it’s too little too late.

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Three players pick up their first competitive caps as Middlebury improves to 2 and 2 with a 7 point victory over the University of Albany. Despite only scoring 2 tries versus Albany’s 4 tries, Middlebury picks up their first road win in Division I. This hotly contested battle goes down to the wire with Albany leading at half time and Middlebury rallying to take over control in the second.

Captain Brian Sirkia ’12.5 scores one of the Middlebury tries, hits 5 penalty kicks and 2 conversions – his boot is the real difference on the scoreboard. Amongst the forwards flanker Devin Risinger ’14 has a stormer creating turnover after turnover at the breakdown. Substitute flanker Sam “Fireman” Murray ’13 scores what ends up being the winning try, capping off the play of the game.

Full match report below:

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The MCRC 3 – 34 Northeastern

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!

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Middlebury secures their first win in Division I beating Southern Connecticut by 30 points to 7 at home.  The muddy field slowed down the pace of the game but some smart tactical kicking by Brian Sirkia ’12.5 gave Middlebury superior field positioning and though it took some camping in the red zone, thanks to Southern’s hard-nosed defense, the Blue managed to breakthrough on multiple occasions.

Tries for Sirkia, wingers Zach Withers ’11.5 and Ken “ICU” Mugo ’12, and eigthman Ross Berriman ’12. Sirkia slots home two penalties and two conversions. Sloppy defense by Middlebury late in the game lets Southern score on a full-field-break to record their first points in this new league. Withers lays out the “Sam Harrison Hit of the Day” following up Geoff Kalan’s beaster last weekend. Hard to pick a man of the match this week as multiple players stepped up to the task in big ways: Mugo is tireless in his pursuit of the ball on every single kick; Berriman creates turnover after turnover especially late in the game as both teams tire; inside center Jack Maher ’12 is so vastly improved from last week and is a force on defense. All that said Sirkia creates nearly all of Middlebury’s attack (sometimes out of very little) and his tackling at 10 is flawless so the writer gives the backs captain the nod. Full report below.

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