On another spectacular day The MCRC dismantled UConn 93-6 in front of a big home crowd. The Boys in Blue ran in 14 tries with scoring spread among 10 different players.
Middlebury started off strong, immediately controlling possession and pushing down field. The first scoring chance came just 90 seconds into the match with a Blue scrum out wide on the opposition 5-meter line. 8-man Laird “Contact” Silsby picked from the back, went left and touched down, but the touch judge made a late call that his foot went out first. No bother, as Midd kept UConn pinned deep. Just minutes later inside center Jake “Flo” Feury would put Middlebury on the scoreboard, touching down and converting his own try. 7-0 Midd with 5 minutes gone.
The MCRC received many kickoffs on the day, but struggled a bit to collect the ball in the first half. Snaps to UConn’s #10 who repeatedly put The Blue under pressure with his skillful kicks. On this one, however, their flanker was called offsides giving Middlebury the free take at midfield. A few phases later and Captain lock Ben “Left Eye” Stasiuk punches thru on a beautiful line, fending would-be defenders like so many mosquitos and touching down. The conversion is no good and Middlebury is in front 12-0 after 9 minutes of play.
The next 11 minutes marked the day’s longest passage of play without a Middlebury score. Vice-captain Allan “El Natural” Stafford finally decided that enough was enough. This long time fullback, newly converted to flyhalf, is beginning to take hold of the #10 position and is ALWAYS a scoring threat when in the same country as a rugby ball. Stafford looks wide, steps in and glides through the defense untouched. Feury converts to extend the lead to 19 points at the 20 minute mark.
UConn, surely recognizing that their scoring chances will be limited, go for goal after being awarded a penalty near midfield just after the kickoff. Their flyhalf slots the 50-meter kick to put his team on the board with three points.
Next up for The Blue is winger Sammy “The Skier” Schwarz who has emerged as an outstanding finisher in just his second year with the team. A converted ski racer, Schwarz demonstrates his balance and breakaway speed to score Midd’s 4th try of the day. The difficult conversion is no good, but not only does the try give Middlebury a 24-3 lead, it also earns the team the scoring bonus point (for 4 tries) just 28 minutes into the match.
The Huskies are able to take advantage of Middlebury miscues after the ensuing kickoff and run phases in the Midd half. Feury makes a strong tackle that draws “oohs” from the crowd, but the referee deems it to be a tip tackle and sends Feury off with a yellow card. Video replay would later show that the hit was clean and within the laws, but there is no instant reply (yet) in collegiate rugby. UConn converts the penalty kick to make it 24-6 after 30 minutes of play. This would mark UConn’s last score of the day.
With Feury in the sin bin, outside center Adam “das boot” Schreiber takes over the place kicking duties. He drives home a penalty kick to extend the lead to 27-6. Just moments later fullback Alex “Coco” Ruocco decides to get in on the fun scoring a try which Schreiber converts. The whistle blows for the half and Middlebury has the lead 34-6.
The starting 15 retake the field for the second half, but all reserves would get in the game before the final whistle. Flanker Devin “I Didn’t Do It!” Risinger, having an absolute stormer of a senior season, does what he does best and regains possession of the ball for the Blue. Middlebury counterattacks wide, linking several beautiful passes, and sophomore flanker Griffin “Gym Rat” Jones is there to finish things off. Schreiber converts (get used to that phrase!) and The MCRC leads 41-6 after 4 minutes.
After the score scrumhalf Vince “Happy Feet” Mariano comes off for teammate Alec “Beefcake” Mackenzie. The two have shared #9 duties all fall giving the team great options and challenging defenses with their different styles of play. Moments later junior Charlie “Clash of Clans” Kunze comes into loosehead, sliding sophomore Cole “Cassanova” Baker to tighthead as senior Mike “Doctor Doctor” Wysota comes off. The third substitution sees sophomore Miller “Shotgun” Judge take over the blindside flanking duties from Jones.
All the substitutions must have fired up Feury as he muscles down two more tries over the next few minutes. Schreiber converts 1 of the 2 and the Middlebury lead is 53-6.
The break allows The Blue to make two more substitutions, with senior hooker Sam “Who Dipped Their Bread In My Borscht?” Finkelman coming off for fellow senior Madison “Coach, I Need a Nickname” Stebbins, and freshman Jackson “Yes, Coach” Yang taking over for classmate Julien “Facebook Hacker” Miller on the wing. Before things can settle down, senior lock John “Scooter” Hawley comes on for senior Tom “Deep Heat” Lynch.
Hawley makes an immediate impact as he skies up and secures the ball from the kickoff. The forwards, in control at the breakdown all day, hammer the ball up pushing UConn onto their back foot. Mackenzie moves the ball from the base, and Stafford finds 8-man Silsby punching thru. Silsby takes the ball at pace, draws the defender and unselfishly pops back in side to Hawley who runs untouched to the try zone for a well-earned try. Schreiber converts to make it 60-6 with 20 minutes remaining.
Only 2 minutes later Silsby gets in on the action and scores Middlebury’s 10th try of the day which Schreiber converts to make it 67-6. It’s worth highlighting the play and season of Mr. Silsby who is pretty much doing it all this year. A beast in the lineout, diesel at the back of the scrum, a veritable tsunami at the breakdown, Silsby has been giving opposing teams fits all year. And somehow he manages to have the vision and energy to insert in the backline numerous times each game. Silsby is a special player having a special season.
All season long Middlebury has aimed to Finish Strong, and the Boys in Blue only know one speed. Schwarz punches thru again (Schreiber converts), and Stebbins takes advantage of a tired defense,quick picking from the ruck and muscling thru no fewer than 3 would-be tacklers for the try. Schreiber has a rare miss and Middlebury is firmly in front 79-6 with 11 minutes remaining.
The final two reserve players come on with freshman lock Henry “I’ll Play Flyhalf” Thomson taking over for Captain Stasiuk, and sophomore winger Simba “Solar Decathalon” Chakauya relieving Schwarz.
Middlebury continues to delight the alumni, parents and fans and records two more tries before the final whistle with the scores coming from Stafford and Feury. Schreiber, of course, converts both. The referee signals time and Middlebury wins 93-6. The game marks the biggest Division I win in team history and is also the highest point total and largest margin of victory in the brief 2+ year history of the East Coast Rugby Conference.
FIRST XV: Cole Baker ’16, Sam Finkelman ’14, Mike Wysota ’14, (C) Ben Stasiuk ’13.5, Tom Lynch ’14, Griffin Jones ’16, Devin Risinger ’14, Laird Silsby ’15, Vince Mariano ’14, Allan Stafford ’13.5, Sam Schwarz ’16, Jake Feury ’16, Adam Schreiber ’14, Julien Miller ’17, Alex Ruocco ’14
RESERVES: Alec Mackenzie ’15, Charlie Kunze ’15, Miller Judge ’16, Madison Stebbins ’14.5, Jackson Yang ’17, John Hawley ’14, Henry Thomson ’17, Simba Chakauya ’16