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
Rochester vs. Albany
Albany 93 - Rochester 0
May 7th, 2011
Albany's last home game of the Spring 2011 season saw them hosting Rochester, a team they try to play each spring. Last year Albany travelled to Rochester and were surprised by a team that showed a lot of athleticism and skill on the field and, as a result, handed Albany a loss. This spring Albany took last spring's lessons to heart and came out of the gate strong and didn't look back once they got going. Strong ball retention in the forwards set up the backs with many scores in the first half. The Albany backs ran in 8 tries in the first half and the forwards added two more of their own. JoAnne Kos was able to slot 4 conversions off those tries and also had not one but two conversions bounce off the goal posts- tough breaks on what had been a great season of kicking with 26 conversions and 3 drop goals in 6 games- score was 53-0 at the half.
Rochester played second half with a lot of heart and determination despite being low on scoring opportunities and players (kudos to the Albany players who stepped up and played with Rochester in both halves). A lot of teams would of let the score line diminish their efforts, but Rochester was all class in the second half and was able to slow down Albany in the second half. It took Ruth Robertson speed to break thru the Rochester backline and Erin Putnam and Shannon Wallace added scores of their own in the half to represent the forwards. JoAnne Kos added 10 more points to the score with 5 conversion in the half. Final score 93-0 and it must be noted that Rochester definitely won the social that day as well.
Scoring line: Ruth Robertson, 4 tries; JoAnne Kos, 2 tries, 9 conversions; Kristin Bonomo, 2 tries; Beth Fairall, 1 try; Lauren Sirkin, 1 try; Willow Eyers, 1 try; Carrie Emigh, 1 try; Rachel Start, 1 try; Erin Putnam, 1 try; Shannon Wallace, 1 try
MVPs: Alicia Backus and Tracy Watson
Albany vs. Boston
Albany 46 - Boston 24
April 30, 2011
Albany's fifth game of the spring season saw them take a road trip to Boston to take on what will be one of their DI rivals for the fall, Boston Women. The weather decide to give us a break this weekend and while no sun tans were had, at least it wasn't raining and miserably cold and the pitch wasn't a mud pit. A short and wide field meant anyone who broke the line were going to gain some significant ground. And that's exactly what happened for the first try of the match as Albany opened up dominating possession but a handling error in the backs provided Boston the turnover ball that they quickly put in the hands of their fullback and she was gone. Just like that Albany was down 7-0 with only 3 minutes in, welcome to Division 1.
Fortunately Albany came to play- despite a couple of starters getting lost and to the field late (classic). Anyway back to the game,,, Albany kept up the same offensive pressure displayed in the first minutes of the game and as a result Nicole Vidro got Albany within 2 points when she scored a try 3 minutes later. Both teams settled into the game at this point and the score remained at 7-5 for the next 20 minutes. JoAnne Kos gave Albany their first lead of the game at the 26 minute mark in with a nice drop-kick. Having the lead in the game seemed to give Albany a boost and the next 10 minutes saw Albany score 2 more tries and 2 conversions to build their lead to 22-7. Scoring for the half concluded when Boston ran in a try to bring the lead down to 8 points (22-14 at the half).
Boston took the break at half-time to regroup and quickly turned the tide when play resumed by scoring 2 minutes into the half and cut Albany's lead down to 3 with over 30 minutes to play. Determined not to let Boston regain the lead, scrumhalf Kristin Bonomo utilized the hard work put in the forwards to score a try at 11:25 and the Kos conversion gave Albany a 10 point lead. At this point in the game Albany's consistent pressure started to pay dividends. Albany tacked on 17 more points in the following 20 minutes in the form of two tries, two conversions and a drop goal. The drop goal came at the end of a 10 minute period that seemed like one scrum down after another. Albany threatened to score multiple times during this stretch but Boston held firm and it was pretty much a stalemate 5 meters out from Boston's try zone until JoAnne decided to put both team's forwards out of their misery with her drop goal. This gave Albany a comfortable lead with less than 5 minutes to go, 46-19. Boston went down fighting and showed a lot fo heart by scoring a try to close out the game in injury time. Final score 46-24.
Scoring line: JoAnne Kos, 2 drop kicks, 5 conversions; Kristin Bonomo, 2 tries; Nicole Vidro, 2 tries; Alicia Backus, 1 try; Angie Craig, 1 try
MVPs: Angie Craig and Rachel Start
New York "B's" vs. Albany
Albany 27 - New York "B's" 22
April 23, 2001
Theme for this spring: cold or rainy... or both. Mother Nature didn't disappoint as it was both cold AND rainy on game day. This in most cases means a slower pace and more forward play and true to form the muddy field slowed down the running and passing of the backs and the forwards scored over half the tries... sorry backs.
New York's b-side was the opponent for the day. It was another b-side of a Premier League team just like last week's opponents Beantown. New York is also the current Premier League champions so this was going to be another tough game for Albany.
First-half scoring drove home that point as New York outscored Albany 3 tries to 1 in the first half in what could best be described as crappy conditions. Albany's lone try was scored by Carrie Emigh at the 12 minute mark, JoAnne Kos had a tough day of kicking with the poor footing and missed her first conversion of the season, having converted 11 straight previously. Score at the half was 17-5 New York.
In the second half Albany switched literally (and figuratively) from running uphill to downhill as they changed sides of the pitch. Add in the wind at their backs and kicking at the New York backline proved to be an effective strategy which soon yielded points for Albany. Kristin Bonomo started off the second half scoring with a try 15 minutes in that JoAnne converted, cutting New York's lead to 5. Tracy Watson showed that over 40 forwards still have what it takes when she scored a try 5 minutes later to tie up the match and Lauren Sirkin made sure the Albany backs weren't completely off the board for the game, running in a try at 25 minutes and giving Albany their first lead of the game, 22-17. The lead was short lived as New York answered with an unconverted try of their own 5 minutes later, to even the score once again. 22-22 all with 10 minutes left. By this point in the match the field was exceedingly muddy and it was becoming hard to tell the teams apart, as both sides were now sporting a lovely shade of light brown. Despite the poor footing and handling conditions, Albany was able to string together several phases of possession down inside the New York 22 and Nicole Vidro scored the go ahead try as the forwards powered over the try line. The score line of 27-22 would hold for the final five minutes and Albany came away with a hard-earned victory.
Scoring line: Krisitn Bonomo, 1 try; Carrie Emigh, 1 try; JoAnne Kos, 1 conversion; Lauren Sirkin, 1 try; Tracy Watson, 1 try; Nicole Vidro, 1 try
MVPs: Lauren Sirkin and Shannon Wallace
Albany vs. Beantown B
Albany 14 - Beantown B 32
April 16, 2011
Cold, windy weather greeted the women's club for their home opener of the 2011 spring season. Albany was hosting Beantown, a club with a long tradition of wining on the rugby pitch along with great depth on the sidelines. This was evident in the fact that they brought their second and third sides to play us and left most of their premier league players at home. That said, there were still a handful of players on field that had international playing experience- and that proved to be tough for Albany to handle.
Beantown utilized their experience in the backline to get two scores quickly in the first 7 minutes of the game, making the score 12-0. After that Albany adjusted and was able to slow the attack of Beantown, the next 15 minutes saw more back and forth play with neither team able to crack the other's defenses. The scoring drought ended at the 22 minute mark when Beantown got in for an unconverted try, 15-0 Beantown. Albany upped the pressure on offense at this point and spent more time in Beantown's 22 threatening to score. Beantown withstood the pressure and was able to find openings in Albany’s own defense when turnovers happened, resulting in two more tries. 27-0 Beantown at the half.
After their half-time huddle, Albany re-took the field determined to put points on the board and slow down the attack of Beantown. The half-time adjustments and renewed effort paid off, with the Albany forwards driving over the Beantown try-line 7 minutes into the half. Alicia Backus touched down for the try and JoAnne Kos slotted the conversion, 27-7. Four minutes later Beantown jumped on an Albany handling error and ran in for one more try, 32-7. Albany kept up the hard work through the rest of the second and it was Alicia and Jo who were able to put 7 more points on the board for Albany. Overall a tough match for Albany but it was a great challenge for the club and provided a valuable learning experience as the club looks towards moving up a division in the fall.
Albany's b-side took on Beantown's c-side in the second match of the day, with Beantown getting the upper hand again. The b-side played hard for all 60 minutes and overall it was a great day of rugby for both clubs.
Scoring line: Alicia Backus, 2 tries; JoAnne Kos, 2 conversions
Players of the match: Lauren Sirkin, Nicole Vidro
Albany vs. Monmouth
Albany 42 - Monmouth 0
April 9, 2011
Second match of the season was also an away game. Thanks to some great foresight by our match coordinators both the men's and women's clubs were on the road together against Monmouth and team rented a bus to travel down together. It was a great bonding experience for the club members who were able to go and, much like Las Vegas, what happens on the rugby bus stays on the rugby bus...
Monmouth is another club that we have faced in play-offs quite often over the years. In fact we played them last October in the NRU semi-finals. While we ended up winning that match 29-0, it had been a close first half with the score only 15-0 at the half. This year's match proved to be a more uneven affair with Albany getting on the board 4 times in the first half alone. While our rucking was less than stellar on the day, we still managed to get the ball out to the backs enough so they could launch some very effective attacks. The first part of the game saw Ruth Robertson turn some great hands by our backs into points on the board. Ruth scored tries at the 2, 11 and 28 minute mark. JoAnne Kos scored another try at the 24 minute mark. JoAnne also had a great day kicking and converted all four tries in the half. The score was 28-0 at the half. The second half saw us change around our personnel to work on combinations for next week's match against Beantown. Both teams settled down and the second half saw much more balanced play from both sides and both defenses disrupting the attack of the other side frequently. Albany was able to get two more scores in the match, a Mary Pezzulo try at 18 minutes and a Willow Eyers try at the 27 minute mark. JoAnne converted both these tries as well and was 6 for 6 on conversions for the day. Albany 42 - Monmouth 0
We had traveled with great numbers and as a result had an entirely new pack to put into the b-side match and along with moving two a-side forwards into the backline. Monmouth combined with players from Rutgers to form their b-side. Our club had an advantage with fresh legs and experience in the b-side and it showed in open play. Stacy Vadney dove in for a try 7 minutes into the match and Carrie Emigh finished the scoring just before the game ended with her own try. Albany 10 - Monmouth 0
Scoring summary: Ruth Robertson 3 tries; JoAnne Kos 1 try, 6 conversions; Willow Eyers 1 try, Stacy Vadney 1 try, Carrie Emigh 1 try
Monmouth: Ruth Robertson, Christina Chiapetta
Albany vs. Village Lions
Randalls Island, NYC
11/14/10 2:00 pm kick-off
Albany 26 - Village Lions 10
April 2, 2011
The women opened their 2011 spring season on the road in NYC against the Village Lions. The Lions are familiar opponent of ours , particularly in the play-offs and our matches have always been closely contested, so we knew to expect a tough match. Since this was our first time playing rugby since November and we knew we would be a little rusty, our goals on the day were to play hard and to focus on the fundamentals.
Despite the typical early season dropped passes and sloppy set pieces, the team was able to move the ball well and did a god job of retaining position in the breakdowns.
Scoring for the day started early with a JoAnne Kos try and conversion at the 5 minute mark. Good ball movement through the back-line enable the team to stretch the Lions defense and JoAnne cut back inside for another try and conversion. The score was 14-0 at 12 minutes in. The Lions settled in on defense and slowed our ball down and then found a scoring opportunity of their own on the outside, 14-5 Albany. Shortly before the half JoAnne got her hat-trick for the day by scoring another try that she converted. 21-5 at the half.
In the second half we switched our starting line-up a bit to work people into different positions, both defenses did a better job of containing and so it was 17 minutes into the second before there was another score, this one by the Lions to bring the score to 21-10. Scoring for the a-side ended when Mary Pezzulo scored a try of her own, to make sure the forwards were represented on the scoreboard too.
Our b-side match against the Lions saw us work in even more of our team for some valuable playing time. The Lions were determined not to drop another match and turned up the pressure. While there was quite a bit of back and forth play, the Lions were able to work through our defense on 3 separate occasions. Final score: 17-0, Lions.
Congratulations goes out to Jessie Muhic and Heather Pierre who played their first game of rugby that day.
Scoring summary: JoAnne Kos 3 tries, 3 conversions; Mary Pezzulo 1 try
Village Lions: Mary Pezzulo, JoAnne Kos
Click here to see a few Lady Knicks rocking out in their medals.
DII Nationals Championship
11/14/10 11am kick-off
Albany 41- Severn River 5
DII Nationals Semi-final Match
Albany 22- Pittsburgh 0
Albany's competitive DII women's rugby club.