Fall 2010 Newsletter
Captain Nick Finger
President Sam Power
YALE 10 - Middlebury 5
YALE 17 - USCGA 16[More Images]
This past weekend the men of Yale Rugby travelled to Middlebury, Vermont for two tough playoff matches and returned to New Haven as New England Champions! In Saturday's semifinal match, Yale defeated former New England champion Middlebury College in a close 10-5 contest. On Sunday, for the second time this season, Yale edged out the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the final to capture the New England championship.
Saturday's match against Middlebury showcased two strong teams with similar fast paced styles of play. Windy conditions played a role throughout the game: in the first half, Yale attacked into the wind and was kept on their heels by frequent Middlebury kicks into the backfield. Yale countered successfully each time, though, and the Bulldog defense effectively shut down the dangerous Middlebury scoring threat. Midway through the half, winger Michael Freedman-Aponte '05 recovered a chip kick by flyhalf Rob Smith and took the ball another twenty-five yards up the right sideline. Yale then recycled the ball and worked it left to inside center Jack Mahoney '07, who found outside center and captain Mike Atkins '05 crashing in for the first score of the game. Winger Bobby Cardone '06 converted the kick, and the half ended with a 7-0 Yale lead.
In the second half Yale had the wind behind their backs and used it to their advantage, eventually setting up a penalty kick for Cardone which brought the Yale lead to 10-0. Middlebury continued to mount pressure on the Eli's through kick counters and strong running in the centers, and were able to score a try late off the side of a ruck. Yale missed several potential scoring opportunities as well, but in the end excellent rucking by both forwards and backs and solid lineouts proved the deciding factor in the well-fought match. Two weeks after Yale handed Coast Guard their first loss of the regular season, Yale again defeated their division rivals on Sunday to take the New England championship. Coast Guard came into the game fired up and caught Yale off guard, driving the Bulldogs deep into their own territory and scoring a quick try in the corner. Yale responded by taking their next possession into Coast Guard territory and settling for three points by Cardone. Yale continued to pressure the opposition with hard tackling on defense and good rucking on offense. Later in the half, Freedman-Aponte tackled a Coast Guard player just in front of the opposing try-line; as the ruck formed, the ball was not released and a penalty try was awarded to Yale. Coast Guard responded with another three points before the halftime whistle, bringing the score to 10-8 in favor of Yale.
The New England final was perhaps more than anything highlighted by missed opportunities. In the first half, several attempts for post by Yale were kicked wide, and on another occassion Yale was unable to capitalize on a 5-meter penalty play. In the second half, a Mike Atkins try and a Cardone conversion extended the lead to 17-8, only to be followed by another Coast Guard kick for post to make the score 17- 11. With about five minutes on the clock, Coast Guard found the try zone and touched the ball down 5 meters right of the posts. The conversion kick missed by a foot, and Yale held on to the slimist of margins. With little time remaining, Yale was penalized off their own scrum, giving Coast Guard one final shot at post from approximately 30 meters out. This kick missed by literally inches, and in dramatic fashion Yale celebrated their first New England championship in this captain's tenure.
The victory in the New England Tournament means that Yale will be the #1 seed out of NERFU entering the Northeast Tournament. Next Saturday the Bulldogs will host Colgate at 1:00 on our own pitch for the Northeast quarterfinals.
Come out and support the team!