DII Nationals Championship
Albany 34- Albuquerque 22
11/14/10 11am kick-off
This was the 7th time Albany had travelled to nationals but only the second time ever that Albany had played for a national title. We had come up short 4 years ago against Raleigh. Now, in 2010, we felt like it was our turn to finally bring home the championship. Pre-game jitters were evident in warm-ups, the team was quiet and the waves we ran just before kick-off were filled with dropped balls. We brought the club together for once last huddle to calm our nerves and with a cheer of "FINISH" we took the field to take on the Albuquerque Atomic Sisters. Albuquerque was another team we didn't know much about, they had played on Friday when we were either warming up or playing. We we had been expecting to meet defending-champs Raleigh in the finals, however the Atomic Sisters blew them up 22-7 on Friday. Obviously, Albuquerque could hang with the top teams in DII- we knew we would have to play to the best of our abilities if we were going to walk off the pitch as champions.
The match started off with solid rucking and quick off-loads in contact by both clubs. The backs on both sides launched several kicks early, testing each other for weaknesses. With nine minutes gone, one of the Albuquerque kicks paid off- it pinned us deep in our 22 and their support runners were able to score the try (no conversion). The next 10 minutes saw a back and forth battle with neither team able to get much of anything going. Our back were having a hard time linking up and breaking the gain line and our forwards, while rucking well, weren't able to break thru either. At the 19 minute mark, we cut the lead down to 5-3 off a JoAnne Kos penalty kick. However, less than five minutes later, we committed a penalty of our own in front of our try-line that Albuquerque was able to turn into a try and conversion. The score was 10-3 Albuquerque. With 15 minutes left in the half, Albany dug deep, settled down and regain our style of play that had got us to the finals. With four minutes to go in the half, Kate Fuller found space on the outside to score and smartly touched it down close to the goal posts, to give JoAnne a better angle to convert, which she did. The game was now tied 10-10. Two minutes later Albany was able to put the Albuquerque back-line under pressure with great ball movement and looping support runners. Ruth Robertson brought it home to give the club one more score before half (Kos conversion). Score was 17-10 going into the second.
The half time talk saw one of the senior members of the club give an impassioned speech about leaving everything we had on the field and to not to let up until the very end. When we took the field again for the start of the second, we were able to pick up where we left off- controlling our possession, moving the ball well and holding them on defense. About 6 minutes into the second half, JoAnne Kos got into the try zone and converted her own score, giving Albany a 14 point lead, meaning Albuquerque would have to convert two trys to tie the game... a nice lead but not enough to keep a team with explosive runners like Albuquerque at bay for long. It was one of those hard-charging runners that found the in-goal next, cutting our lead to 9 points with just over 20 minutes to play. Albany didn't tighten up their play though and kept their game plan going of the forwards providing a stable platform for the backs to attack from. At this point in the match Albuquerque also stopped kicking the ball as much since our back three were starting to counter-attack well. It was winger Willow Eyers who scored next, getting a pass out wide that she ran in from about 30 meters out. The score was 29-15 with about 14 minutes left. We started to get some more fresh legs in at this point so we could keep up the pressure until the very end. We got our final score of the match when fullback Beth Fairall touched the ball down for 5. There was 8 minutes left in the match at this point and any thoughts of victory were quickly slipping away from Albuquerque but they fought hard until the final whistle. The efforts paid off when they got a try and conversion on the last play of the game. The final score was Albany 34- Albuquerque 22. JoAnne Kos was named MVP of the match- it was well deserved recognition for a great display of atheisms, skill and mental focus, not just in the final but on Friday as well.
DII Nationals Day 1 Match Reports
November 12, 2010
This is the first year that USA Rugby is officially recognizing the Women's Division II Championships. The decision was made this summer to bring DII into the fold. As a result, the tournament format had some of the trappings of the original DII tournaments in that 8 teams would play 3 games over the course of the weekend to decide a champion. As a result Albany would play two 60-minute matches on Friday (quarterfinal and semi-final) and one 80-minute match on Sunday.
DII Nationals Quarterfinal Match
Albany 41- Severn River 5
Albany's first match of the 2010 DII Nationals kicked off at 10:15am in Mesa, AZ. The team faced Severn River (Maryland) the MARFU #2 seed. Albany didn't know much about Severn River other than they were a newer club with a lot of heart and that they had taken quite a few clubs in MARFU by surprise this season.
The team knew that they would have to come out hard and set the tone early if they wanted to control the match. First ten minutes of the match saw Albany do just that. Some great passing in the backline got Krisitn Bonomo in the try zone just 2 minutes in. JoAnne Kos followed up with a try of her own a couple minutes later that she also converted. At the 9 minute mark Albany got a taste of Severn River's potential on ofense when their giant winger picked the ball up off a broken play and stiff-armed herself past three of our best tacklers to score a try. The score was now 12-5 and with 50 minutes of rugby left to play, it was definitely game on. The Severn River try was a valuable reminder to Albany that they would have to play some solid defense if they wanted to make it very far in this tournament.
The club kept applying pressure with some great rucking and ball movement. Severn River was on their back foot quite often the rest of the half and wasn't able to string together many phases when they did have the ball. As a result Albany was able to get three more scores before the half- a try each by Krisitn Bonomo and Rachel Start and penalty kick and conversion by JoAnne Kos. Score was 27-5 at the half.
The second half saw the team to continue to play well and the club started to work in the entire bench to rest some legs for the semi-final match. All seven subs played really well for Albany and the pressure didn't let off. We got another try (Kos try and conversion) and an amazing mauling try to close out the game (15-year old Jenna Watson gets the credit for that score). Beth Fairall got the conversion.
Final score was 41-5 and it was on to the semi-finals against Pittsburgh at 4:30pm. Albany was one step closer to their goal of bringing home a National Championship.
DII Nationals Semi-final Match
Albany 22- Pittsburgh 0
This match was a rematch of last year's semi-final in Houston. In that match-up Pittsburgh beat Albany 5-3 in a hard-fought defensive battle. Many from the club remembered the bitter taste from losing such a close match and being denied a shot at the title and we were determined not to let it happen again. Pittsburgh was going to be a formidable opponent though, they've been one of the top Midwest clubs for years and always performed well at Nationals rarely finishing out of the top four.
The first half saw Albany pressure the Pittsburgh forwards with some excellent rucking and we were getting clean ball out to the backs but the Pittsburgh back-line was charging up hard and did a good job of closing down our options. At the 10 minute mark JoAnne Kos was able to break thru the line and touch down for a try to make the score 5-0. The next 20 minutes saw Albany controlling the ball well but we were hard pressed to break thru the solid Pittsburgh defense. The match was shaping up to be just like last year's battle. Just before half Ruth Robertson escaped on a long run that yielded a try (Kos conversion). The 12-0 score gave Albany some much needed breathing room to start the second half.
The second half saw more great rucking from the forwards and JoAnne Kos getting a lot of pressure at fly-half to disrupt our offense but our defense held and anything that Pittsburgh tried to get going, Albany would quickly shut down. At 13 minutes in the forwards put together a great series in front of the Pittsburgh line that saw Alicia Backus get a push-over try. Score was 17-0 with just over 15 minutes to go. At this point Pittsburgh realized that if they didn't start scoring soon the game was going to be quickly out of reach. To their credit they spent almost all of the remaining time in our 22, pressuring us with everything they had. Our backline had so many try-saving tackles, we lost count and the forwards held up several trys and pushed one Pittsburgh maul back out of try zone. Albany was able to relieve the pressure a couple of times with a couple of long runs by our wings. The last run of the day also resulted in the final score of the match with Willow Eyers finding the corner just before the whistle blew.
Overall it was a great team effort by all 23 members of the club here. Albany would take on Albuquerque at 11am on Sunday for the DII Championships.
November 23, 2010
Albany 29- Monmouth 0
The women's side won the NRU Championship this past weekend and will be going onto Nationals again this year. This year the format of the National tournament had changed with USA Rugby formally recognizing DII women's rugby and all seven territories now sending a team. As a result, only one seed from the Northeast would advance, not the usual two. It was win or go home: We had finished the regular season 4-1 with our only lost coming against (final score: 30-15). As a result, Portland had the #1 seed and Albany was #2. This meant we would face the #1 seed from Met NY, Monmouth.
Our semi-final started out with both teams playing strong, Monmouth was especially tough at the breakdowns. Albany settled into the game quickly however and spent most of the first ten minutes in Monmouth's half. 13 minutes later and our hard efforts paid off with Ruth Robertson running in for a try and JoAnne Kos converting. The next 20 minutes of the match was much of the same with Albany applying steady pressure inside the Monmouth 22- the consistent effort was rewarded with a penalty kick and an unconverted try, both by JoAnne Kos. The last 5 minutes of the half saw Monmouth threatening to score as they parked themselves in front of the Albany try-line, but the girls put in a great defensive effort. Score at half would be 15-0 Albany.
Second half was almost a repeat of the first with steady pressure in the opening minutes paying off with a try and conversion (both by JoAnne Kos). Most of the half would see neither team able to score. Willow Eyers put the proverbial nail in the Monmouth's coffin at the 30 minute mark with a long run down the touch-line, JoAnne Kos converted and the score would remain 29-0 until the final whistle.
November 24, 2010
Albany 21- Portland 5
Sunday saw the girls tired and sore from their semi-final game but eager to avenge their regular season loss to Portland. Both teams took the field confident that they would win and first half was indicative of that- neither team would score a try and although Albany worked incredibly hard in front of the Portland try-zone, their efforts amounted to two converted penalty kicks (JoAnne Kos). Score was 6-0 at the half, meaning just one converted try would put Portland in the lead in what was turning out to be a great defensive battle. Albany hit the second-half hard, determined not to let a close game get away from them. Within a minute JoAnne Kos ran in from about 15 meters out to give the team a little breathing room. Ten minutes later and Willow Eyers get her second try of the tournament and score was 16-0 with about 30 minutes left in the match. (In our regular season match, Portland scored 3 tries on us in half that time so a 16-0 lead was anything but comfortable). True to form, Portland came charging back pressuring consistently in our 22, the pressure worked and we let in an unconverted try. Score was 16-5 with 20 minutes left in the match. Rest of the game was back and forth, played mostly between the 22's. (The forwards particularly hated one sequence where the backs traded kicks for about 6 phases in a row). With 7 minutes left in the match Ruth Robertson had a long break-away in which she out-ran all of the Portland defenders, to make the score 21-5. The score would hold and the match ended with the team exhausted but happy that they were back-to-back NRU Champions and would be headed to Arizona as the #3 seed in the country.
Albany Rolls Over Burlington
October 9, 2010
Albany 95- Burlington 5
Last regular season game for the club and our last home match as well. Albany looked forward to hosting Burlington as they were always a fun club both on and off the field. Burlington had had some close matches against our other league opponents this fall and in order for Albany to control their own fate and make play-offs we needed to win the match, so the team was ready to play and to play hard. The day also saw the return of some of the a-side players that we had been missing in the Portland game as well. As evident from the score line, Albany was able to exploit the defensive weaknesses of a young Burlington team. It started with a try at the 30 second mark by Ruth Robertson and didn't stop until nine different Albany players found the try zone, three of them more than once. Ruth was the leading try scorer on the day with 4 tires. With the victory Albany heads to the Northeast play-offs as the second seed behind Portland, on October 23rd. Scoring summary: JoAnne Kos 1 try, 10 conversions; Ruth Robertson 4 tries; Beth Fairall 2 tries; Rachel Start 2 tries; Kristin Bonomo, Claudia Braymer, Angie Craig, Tracy Cooper, Willow Eyers all had one try each A-side MVP: Rachel Start (for some really nice scoring runs and her excellent tackling at flanker) B-side MVP: Mary Pezzulo (for her hard work and excellent all around play)
Albany Taken Down by Portland
October 2, 2010
Portland 30- Albany 15
First week in October saw Albany on the road again to take on their toughest opponent of the season. Two seasons ago, Portland had ended Albany's play-off hopes and Albany returned the favor by ending Portland's play-off chances with a last minute victory last year. The game was going to be close and hard-fought and the outcome was anything but certain for either club. The billing proved to be true- it was an exciting match to watch with the lead changing 6 times over the course of the day. Portland got on the board with first with a penalty kick at the 6 min mark. 12 minutes later Albany got on the board with a try by Lauren Sirkin, 5-3 Albany. At the 24 min mark Portland got their first try, 8-5 Portland. In injury time just before the half, JoAnne Kos scored and converted her own try to give Albany the lead again, 12-5. Second half saw Portland score in the first couple of minutes to go up by one, 13-12. 10 minutes later Albany capitalized on a penalty in front of the Portland posts to take what turned out to be their last lead of the match, 15-13. Shortly after that, Albany had a huge 10 minute lapse in defense that saw Portland run three tries thru their defenses. Last seven minutes of the game saw Albany re-double their defensive efforts but the damage was done and the final score was 30-15. Not the outcome hoped for but a chance for the club to re-focus and adjust as they headed into their last regular season match. Scoring summary: JoAnne Kos 1 try, 1 conversion, 1 penalty kick; Lauren Sirkin 1 try A-side MVP: Mary Pezzulo (for her high work-rate at the breakdowns, hard runs and composure at prop) B-side MVP: Caitlin Casey (for some excellent runs on the wing and her spirited play)
Albany Women Shut Down Seacoast
September 25, 2010
Albany 32- Seacoast 0
Third game of the season saw the Albany women back at home to take on Seacoast, always a tough league opponent. In keeping with the first two weeks of the season, the weather was again sunny and warm. Seacoast arrived early and was ready to play, there was no doubt that they had every intention of leaving with a victory. If Albany was going to come out with a victory, we had to play at our best. First-half saw solid play in the forwards that gave the backs a stable base to attack from. We were able to put their defense under pressure early, especially with Kristin Bonomo's hard runs up the center. Eventually the pressure paid off and Albany was able to get three tries in the first-half (at the 7min, 14min and 28min marks). Score was 17-0 at the half. Second half started off with a quick score by Beth Fairall, from that point on the match was a stalemate with neither club able to capitalize on opportunities with points. The scoring drought ended at the 27 min mark with a drop-goal by JoAnne Kos. Another try at 33 min by Kristin Bonomo ended the scoring for the day.
Scoring summary: JoAnne Kos 1 try, 2 conversions, 1 drop goal; Beth Fairall 2 tries; Kristin Bonomo 1 try; Ruth Robertson 1 try
A-side MVP: Kristin Bonomo (for her effective, hard runs up the middle and smothering tackles at inside center)
B-side MVP: Lauren Sirkin (for her excellent heads-up play and long runs out on the wing)
September 18, 2010
Albany 66- Worcester 5
First road trip of the season for the club and Albany traveled strong on another warm and sunny early fall day. Worcester is a club with a long history in New England rugby and even though our past several match-ups have seen lop-sided score lines, they always play with a lot of heart and this game was no different. They were tough at the breakdowns and played hard all game long. Albany was able to take advantage of Worcester's developing back-line, and despite the narrow field, we were able to exploit their defense for 9 tries. The forwards added a try of their own when Janelle Fayette powered in late in the game. Beth Fairall was the leading try scorer with 3 tries. JoAnne Kos was 7/7 on conversions and Jenna Watson became the youngest scorer in our club's history, who at the age of 15, converted our last try of the match.
Scoring summary: JoAnne Kos 2 tries, 7 conversions; Beth Fairall 3 tries; Tracy Cooper 1 try; Willow Eyers 1 try; Janelle Fayette 1 try; Kate Fuller 1 try; Ruth Robertson 1 try; Jenna Watson 1 conversion
A-side MVP: Angie Craig (for tireless efforts at the breakdowns, hard runs and excellent tackling at flanker)
B-side MVP: Hannah Whipple (for her strong go-forward style of play and great support all game long at flanker)
Season Opener: Albany v. Hartford
September 11, 2010
Albany 40- Hartford 0
Sunny and hot weather greeted Albany as they opened up their 2010 season at home against Hartford. Hartford has always been a formidable opponent- tough in the forwards with excellent defense in their back-line. Last year Albany escaped with a one point victory off a last minute score, so we were expecting a battle for a home opener. We got on the board quickly with a try by Ruth Robertson at the 4 min mark, JoAnne Kos missed the conversion but it would be the last time she would miss a kick on the day as she went 5 of 6. The next 15 minutes saw the team working out their early-season kinks and we tested the Hartford defense but weren't able to capitalize. At the 20 min mark Beth Fairall got in off a nice run when she slotted into the back-line from fullback. Kate Fuller finished the scoring just before the half with a try of her own. Score was 19-0 at the half, a deficit that Hartford could easily turn around on our club if we let down in the second-half. Fortunately the second 40 minutes saw much of the same from Albany and we ran in three more tries (at 9min, 18min and 25min). Overall a well-played match and a great start to the season.
Scoring summary: JoAnne Kos 1 try, 5 conversions; Beth Fairall 2 tries; Ruth Robertson 2 tries; Kate Fuller 1 try
A-side MVP: Kate Fuller (for her great fielding of kicks and nice runs at wing)
B-side MVP: Kristin King (for her fearless play and hard-charging runs on the wing)
Albany's competitive DII women's rugby club.