Polar Bear 7s: You Win Some, You Lose Some (2-2)

What do the US Army, some polar bears, and sea gulls have in common? They all faced off against the panthers this weekend at Bowdoin College’s “Polar Bear Sevens” tournament in Brunswick, Maine. Middlebury celebrated Earth Day in style, led by flower child/ coach extraordinaire KO Onufry, who asked the ladies to summon the power of Mother Earth for this occasion.

Due to a miscommunication, the panthers had not one, but two horses in the race, as they discovered upon their arrival that both an A side and a B side had been entered into pool play. With a traveling side of 13 players, this prospect yielded only a few soft screams from panicking players and coaches alike. With the great and generous help of a few BU players, though, Midd was able to rearrange their roster and field two highly successful sides.

Midd B started things off for the panthers with a match against Endicott B. Tries from Emma Nelson ’20 (converted) and Calla Rosenfeld ’19 kept the Gulls on their toes, but in the end it was a 12-31 loss.

Roughly five seconds later, Midd A took the pitch to face off against the University of New England, whom they beat handily with a 39-0 win.

It was Midd B’s turn again right after, this time against Bowdoin B. Though the panthers were able to give them a run for their money, Midd fell short, ceding five tries to the polar bears.

In the last game of Middlebury’s morning quadruple-header (or a 4×4, as west-coasters Franny Suarez and Ariana Hernandez would call it), the A side had their toughest matchup of the day against Norwich A. The panthers took it right to them, though they were unable to make it into their end zone. After a valiant fight, the panthers walked off with their heads held high.

The Magnificent Seven: Middlebury’s A-Side pulled off some truly spectacular victories this weekend

After lunch/nap break, Midd A was reenergized ahead of their most long-awaited match of the day against Bowdoin A. Bowdoin was clearly expecting an easy win, because after Ellen Colton ’19’s try in the first 10 seconds of play, they sent in an entire new front row and switched several of their backs, using all five substitutions. If polar bears had long tails, they would have been between their legs for the remaining 13 minutes and 50 seconds, because Middlebury never lost their lead thanks to some really spectacular running, drives, and, of course, the resulting tries. In an upset victory, the Panthers would win it 26-20.

With the A-side cheering from the sidelines, Midd B took on their final opponents of the day, Norwich B. Both sides fought hard, but Midd was unable to secure the W.

Not expecting to earn second place in their pool, the Panthers now faced off against their closest opponents of the day: West Point. The Panthers were unsure of where to go at first because the Army was nowhere to be seen, but once they took off their camo they were easily spotted by the Panthers, whose sharp eyesight is, according to most of the internet sites I consulted for this research, “excellent.”

Unsure of what a victory over the US Army Cadets would mean (would we conquer the military? Seize control of the government? Get the nuclear codes?), the panthers were ready for a fight. Despite the cheers of “WAR” from the West Point sidelines, Midd kept their eyes on the prize, scoring tries in both halves. In the end, the military industrial complex maintained its firm grip on American life, securing a 17-26 victory over the Panthers, which was probably for the best considering our very limited understanding of governmental procedure.

Scoreboard results aside, it truly was a great day for rugby! The panthers learned a lot from watching and playing, all ahead of the ACRA tournament next weekend in Kutztown, Pennsylvania! See below for full results:

The Middlebury Panthers braved the rain and the mud for a great weekend of rugby.

Middlebury A

v. UNE: 39-0 W

v. Norwich A: 0-41 L

v. Bowdoin A: 26-20 W

v. Army B: 17-26 L

Final: 2-2 for the day

Middlebury B

v. Endicott B: 12-31 L

v. Bowdoin B: 0-25 L

v. Norwich B: 12-36 L

Final: 0-3 for the day

Purple Valley 7’s Tournament: First Place Champs!

The Middlebury Panthers were very excited to return to Williams in the spring, this time for their season-opening sevens tournament! It was a beautiful day for rugby, with temps in the mid-60s, but the wind sent drop-kicks flying in all directions, much to the chagrin of our all-star kickers, Franny “HUMBLE.” Suarez ’17 and Ellen “I don’t need a break” Colton ’19.

Eager to prove their mettle, the Panthers took to the field in their first match against Springfield College, which was expected to be the toughest of the day. Tries from Middlebury in the first few minutes cemented their lead early on, though, and they were able to defeat them despite some great breakaway tries from Springfield, for a final score of 20-10.

Following a short break between our first and second matches, the Panthers soaked up some sun after a long Vermont winter, resulting in some truly terrific sunburns (see photo below).

They hit hard again for their double header in the afternoon, this time against Connecticut College for their second win of the day (32-0), and Williams for their third (29-5). Players were rotated through, and new combinations kept the Camels and the Ephs on their toes.

The Panthers secured their tournament victory with a decisive win over Wellesley College (46-0). A B-Side game against a combination of Williams and Conn players provided a great opportunity for some younger players to take initiative on the pitch, and three new players played in their first-ever rugby game!

A huge thank-you goes out to the Williams College Rugby Club for hosting and to all the teams for a beautiful day of rugby! Thanks also to our loyal fans, canine and human, who traveled to watch us play! This weekend was a huge start for our season as we continue to prepare for the ACRA-qualifying tournament at Bowdoin College next weekend!