New England Rugby Championship Tournament
May 14th and 15th, 2011
Albany closed out it's spring season in Newport, RI at the New England Rugby Championship Tournament. While the results of the tournament don't have much bearing on the fall season, each club in New England looks forward to this end of season ritual and the bragging rights that go along with victories there.
This year's tournament saw Albany seeded fourth out of eight teams. Ahead of them were the two D1 clubs (Providence and Boston) and last year's regular season DII champs, Portland. First round of the NERFU tourney saw Albany matched up against Seacoast, the team who finished just behind Albany in DII last fall. With the tournament format the halves were shorter than normal (25 minute halves) as a result Albany knew it was important to start strong and not let Seacoast jump out to the early lead. (Last year's first round game saw Albany get behind early to Hartford and barely pulled out a win in OT).
A try each by JoAnne Kos, Angie Craig and Rachel Start in the first half along with 3/3 kicking on conversions by JoAnne saw Albany take the 21-0 lead into the half. Another try and conversion by JoAnne gave Albany a 28-0 early in the second and allowed the club to rotate in all of their subs and save legs for the upcoming semifinal game. Seacoast reminded Albany that they were playing rugby against a opponent not to be overlooked when they scored a try of their own half way thru the second. the waning moments of the game saw Beth Fairall run in a try from her fullback position off a nice counter-attack and the game would end with the score at 32-5.
The semi-final found Albany in a rematch with Boston and Boston looked to be much more of an offensive threat than earlier in the season with the return of their starters at wing. It was those wingers combined with their speedy fullback that had dismantled Burlington in their first round game. (As one spectator of the Boston/Burlington match put it... "speed kills".) The Albany/Boston semi-final was shaping up to be a much different match from their earlier meeting.
Both teams started strong, testing for weaknesses on defense and offense. Albany was the first team to capitalize in the match when Kristin Bonomo used sheer determination to cap a team effort with an try 7 minutes into the first half. The next 10 minutes saw Albany apply consistent pressure and able to shut Boston down before their speed on the outside could capitalize. Two Albany forwards (Angie Craig and Shannon Wallace) were the only other players to touch the ball down in the try zone in the first half. Score was 15-0 going into the second. Nice to have a lead but less than comfortable given the speed of Boston's back three. The 2nd half was pretty much a stalemate between the clubs with only one try scored in 25 minutes of play. Lauren Sirkin was the lone try scorer when she scampered in to give Albany a little more breathing room with 14 to go. Game would end at 20-0 for Albany, setting them up in a rematch of last year's NERFU final against Beantown.
Ahh, Beantown- a team that Albany has never been able to beat. In fact in just the last 12 months, Albany has a record of 0-3 against Beantown's various mixtures of b-side and premier league players. Unfortunately Sunday's NEERFU final didn't hold a different outcome. Hamstrung by missing two starters to the NRU game against MARFU and having two other starters out because of injuries sustained in the Boston game, the cards just weren't in the deck for an Albany victory. Facing a full 80 minute game against a team with a lot of depth Albany did dig deep and hung on for the first 15 minutes of the game but Beantown's depth and pressure proved to be too much and the floodgates eventually opened. Six Beantown tries and a conversion in the next 25 minutes built up a 32-0 lead. Albany regrouped at half was able to slow down the Beantown scoring machine in the second, but a long weekend of rugby had caught up with them and they were only to able to capitalize on their sustained effort with one try. Final score was 42-5 Beantown.
Disappointing to end the season with a loss but overall Albany went 6-2 this spring and look forward to moving up to Division 1 this fall.
MVP: Meagan “Buck” Hillengas and Nicole Vidro
Albany's competitive DII women's rugby club.