Spring has finally arrived in New England and AIC saw fit to celebrate with a second consecutive cup victory in the East Coast Rugby Conference Sevens Series. Though Middlebury hosted a smaller lineup, a commitment to a fun atmosphere and competitve games was evident throughout the tournament.
For the second competition in a row, AIC opened the day against the University of Albany. The Great Danes, jumped out to an early 12-0 lead through their seemingly random and creative style of attack. The second half would see the Yellow Jackets catch on and run score 22 unanswered points through, including two long range strikes from Christian Adams, to start the day on a good note.
In the second match, Bryce Neff finished a great team try to push AIC out to 7-0. They would hold on in a physical match to better Northeastern 7-5 after spending large portions of the match defending the physical Huskies’ style of play.
After a fun spirited win against the Rhinos, AIC took on Middlebury to punch its ticket to the finals. Middlebury brought a varied and classic sevens attack but fell to a powerful attack braced by Gavan D’Amore-Morrison and Deshae Edwards. The Yellow Jackets were hitting there stride as they approached a rematch in the final.
Northeastern made it to the final after a tight victory over Middlebury. AIC’s earlier successes helped their schedule immensely, and they were ready to finish the day strong. The Yellow Jackets scored on their first two possessions after watching Adrian Ray and Gavan D’Amore-Morrison win perfect lifted restarts by Ben Roach. Roach particularly was rewarded with a great try on a short ball from Kurtis Werner. A the second half ground on, the familiar rivals got more physical and Northeastern remained dedicated to attack. They could not, however, penetrate a committed AIC defense.
AIC will be going after a cup trifecta at the Al Baker 7′s in Amherst, MA this Saturday. The Yellow Jackets currently sit atop the series standings with 24 pts. The next closest team is Middlebury with 14. In an added bonus, the team will welcome a half dozen potential student athletes from Florida this weekend as well. They’ll be treated to an on campus living experience, admissions interviews and tours, and (of course) lots and lots of rugby.
Albany (W 22-12), Northeastern (W 7-5), AIC Rhinos (W 29-5), Middlebury (W 27-12), Northeastern (19-0)
Tries: Christian Adams (5), Gavan D’Amore-Morrison (3), Monte Davis, Deshae Edwards, Corey Momsen, Bryce Neff (3), Ben Roach, Kurtis Werner (2)
Conversions: Josue Guerra (2), Ben Roach (4), Kurtis Werner
The AIC Rhinos, despite not being the fleetest of foot, enjoyed a solid day of rugby as well and played the same schedule as AIC’s first team. Many teams were surprised by the Rhinos’ commitment to ball movement and strong defense, and the team even jumped ahead on tournament runners up Northeastern. The Rhinos will also be making an appearance at Al Baker 7′s.
On Sunday evening the Yellow Jackets hosted Northeastern University in an exciting match under the lights. AIC shut out the Huskies 62-0, walking away with a solid victory.
The score however is not reflective of the fight on the field. A few early tries from the Yellow jackets including one at kickoff, fired up Northeastern who really turned it on after the first 20 minutes. The Huskies put forth an impressive effort considering they played in UNH Sevens the day before. Both teams used this as an opportunity to field a mixed side of both new and experienced players, making strides in team development.
Especially strong performances were seen by lock Carrie Vaillancourt (FR; Olympia, WA) and Nicole Valli (FR; Jupiter, FL) debuting at center instead of her usual position at wing. Vaillancourt was relentless in the air on line outs, securing ball for the Yellow Jackets as well as stealing plenty of NU throw ins. Nicole saw playing out of her comfort zone as an opportunity to learn and excel–which she did. She was consistent on defense and ran great attacking lines.
The Yellow Jackets will travel to Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday April 12th where they will face Brown University. The two teams last met in November during the ACRA Round of 16, where AIC defeated Brown 34-0. Kick off is set for 11:00am.
Jess Davis (4); Shontel Marks; Rosalind Pena (2); Carrie Vaillancourt (2); Nicole Valli (2)
Cassidy Meyers (2)
While hosting its first major event, the men’s team simultaneously put on a great tournament and also managed to win the cup. Players were divided into teams (field, press box, players) to manage the day and the team took on the challenge of welcoming fifteen teams onto campus. The draw went as follows:
|Pool A||Pool B||Pool C||Pool D|
|Stonehill||New England College||Western New England||Coast Guard|
|Westfield State||Dartmouth||Bowdoin||Mass Maritime|
There were several surprises as the tournament got under way. UMASS beat last year’s East Coast Conference sevens champions and CRC bowl winners Northeastern University in the first match of the tournament, while New England College showed that NSCRO teams can sometimes go toe to toe with their higher division counterparts.
All sixteen teams were treated to indoor space, customized team music, and a festival atmosphere. Western New England Head Coach Rob Guiry mentioned after winning the bowl “This is the top tournament our program has been to. Fun, well organized, and the chance to measure ourselves against top competition regardless of division.” The player-filled staff kept the energy up despite the long day and dreary weather.
As the tournament went on, the rain started to fall. Lines narrowed as the ball began to resemble a bar of soap. For the top teams, it seldom mattered as a high standard was maintained throughout the brackets.
The cup bracket found AIC matched up against UMASS and Boston College matched up against bracket busters New England College. AIC pressured UMASS into a 17-0 submission through some bruising defense and opportunistic counterattack. Boston College, despite some fantastic play in the air, fell to a very direct, very athletic New England College side by a margin of 26-5.
In the final, AIC enjoyed the physical invitation offered to them by New England College and jumped out to an early 12-0 lead. In the second half, the Yellow Jackets turned over four set pieces and held the game to a 12-0 victory, relishing the cup victory after a great day of rugby.
1. AIC *cup champs*
2. New England College
4. Boston College
5. Middlebury *plate champs*
7/8. Northeastern/UMASS Lowell
9. Western New England *bowl champs*
10. Coast Guard
13. Dartmouth *shield champs*
14. Westfield State
15. Mass Maritime
For the full tournament results, click here. The ECRC sevens series continues next week as the teams converge on UMASS in Amherst for the Al Baker 7′s. AIC currently sits atop of the series standings followed by UMASS, Boston College, Middlebury, Albany, Northeastern, and UCONN.
Nearly one hundred players scored point in this year’s event. Congratulations to our top five! Click here for the entire list.
|Joe D’Antonio||Boston College||5||7||39|
|Craig Spyropoulos||Western New England||5||25|
Albany (W26-17); Western New England (W43-0); Bowdoin (W19-0); UMASS (W17-0); New England College (W12-0)
Ben Roach (6), Gavan D’Amore-Morrison (3), Christian Adams (2), Michael Martinez (2), Josue Guerra, Bryce Neff, Adrian Ray, Deshae Edwards, Will Blair, Corey Momsen, Kurtis Werner
Ben Roach (8), Josue Guerra, Bryce Neff
The women’s team traveled to New York City early Saturday morning to compete in the annual Four Leaf 15′s Tournament put on by the Village Lions. The team was warmly welcomed to Randall’s Island by supporters and fans from around the NYC area, who came to watch and cheer on the Yellow Jackets in each and all of their games!
Development being the goal for the weekend, the team really came together by helping new players on the field acclimate to the sport and the skills associated with it. Goals were progressively set moving forward through each match, and improvements were made. Debuting for the Yellow Jackets in their first season were Jazmine Baehr, Marisa Najarian, and Lauren Bis. Second row Ellayha Quinn (FR, Weymouth, MA) started in the fall but was unable to see much game time due to an early injury. This weekend she played in 3 out of the 5 matches and made some great contributions to the team on the field!
A long day of successful matches led the women to the championship match against Northeastern University. In a great contest, where mental toughness played a factor after a long day of rugby, the Yellow Jackets came out on top and took home the hardware.
Rookie Marisa Najarian put on an astonishing performance in her second weekend ever on the field! She was relentless in contact, fierce with the ball in hand running hard every chance she got. Flanker Gioanna Cruz (FR, Bronx, NY) had a stand out performance as well on her home town turf, finding gaps and slicing through them on attack.
Match 1: AIC 31-0 RPI
Tries: Jess Davis (2), Megan Pinson, Chrystal Negron, Domo Cammock
Conversions: Chrystal Negron (2), Jess Davis
Match 2: AIC 51 – 0 Hofstra
Tries: Rosalind Pena, Nicole Valli, Jess Davis, Gioanna Cruz (2), Domo Cammock (3)
Conversions: Chrystal Negron (3)
Match 3: AIC 32 – 7 Cornell
Tries: Muneera Patton, Gioanna Cruz (4), Jess Davis
Conversion: Chrystal Negron
Match 4: AIC 37 – 0 Northeastern
Gioanna Cruz (3), Jess Davis (2), Muneera Patton, Takiah Helton
Conversion: Chrystal Negron
On a surprisingly warm day given the late winter temperatures this year in New England, the AIC Women faced Harvard Women in the teams’ first ever meeting. It was predicted to be a great match, both teams being well-coached and having varsity/varsity-model status. The AIC women came out on top however, with a 56-19 victory over the Crimson.
Harvard applied a lot of pressure defensively in the breakdown and in their line speed, making good quality ball difficult for the Yellow Jackets. An early try 3 minutes in by the Harvard fly half set the scoring off early on. AIC quickly followed with three tries of their own in the first 25 minutes. Starting wing Anna Mbengam (2016; Randolph, MA) touched down two of the three, scoring for the first time. A couple more tries lead to a half time score of AIC 24-12 Harvard. While the Yellow Jackets dominated attack in the second half with 6 tries to Harvard’s one, the game could have gone either way. Harvard were relentless and physical for 80 minutes of play, forcing AIC to work hard for every possession. Hooker Maggie O’Rourke (2017; Sebastian, FL) saw her first collegiate try late in the second half.
The Yellow Jackets have departed for spring break, but will continue to work hard over the week.
Jess Davis (3); Anna Mbengam (2); Cassidy Meyers; Maggie O’Rourke; Megan Pinson; Carrie Vaillancourt; Nicole Valli
Cassidy Meyers (3)
Twenty players from the AIC men’s and women’s teams attended a weekend training camp hosted by Serevi in partnership with USA Rugby. Training sessions were led by US national team coaches Matt Hawkins, Ric Suggitt, Richie Walker and Justin Fitzpatrick, along with current USA Eagle and Serevi coach Emilie Bydwell. AIC’s own Coach Macy was able to help out and coach three sessions as well.
The USA Rugby High Performance Training Camps series emphasizes skill development, situational awareness, the ability to play creatively, manipulate defenders and exploit and preserve space, all while providing opportunities for high-potential crossover athletes new to rugby.
While skill development was on offer for all participants, the camps also serve as a talent identification vehicle for both men’s and women’s national team programs. “We’ll be looking for athletes with an appropriate mix of skill, athleticism and potential to invite to train in an immersive, high-performance environment during our summer residence camps,” said Ric Suggitt, Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s National 7s Team. “As we build towards the 2016 Olympics, these camps will be the foundation of finding and developing the next generation of women’s and men’s Eagles.”
In rugbymag.com’s latest women’s collegiate rankings, the American International College Yellow Jackets, led by head coach Mel Denham, sit in the national top four. In their first season in Division I, AIC enjoyed wins over Vermont, Quinnipiac, New Hampshire, Boston University, Rhode Island, and Brown. The team also played Army and Norwich down to the wire and went deep into the playoffs.
RugbyMag’s Top Five D1 Women’s Rankings
1. Penn State
4. American International College
5. Northern Iowa
With a young team, school support, and solid coaching, the Yellow Jackets are looking forward to more growth this spring as they continue to build a team to be proud of.
After a leisurely twelve hour drive, the men’s team was itching for some on field action to follow up winning the plate championship at the Las Vegas Invitational. The pool draw for the tournament was a difficult one, with North Carolina State, North Carolina, and Kutztown University standing in the way of a cup victory. After a strong start, the team was undone by two losses at the final whistle. Lessons abound in the fourth place finish and will surely push the Yellow Jackets forward as they head into the East Coast Rugby Conference Sevens Series.
In the first game of the day, the Yellow Jackets took on NC State. Deshae Edwards scored AIC’s first points of the day by finishing a strong three phase possession from the kick off. The Wolfpack found some wiggle room as AIC worked out the kinks in its defense, but the pressure from Yellow Jacket speedsters Ben Roach and Christian Adams were just too much.
Up next, AIC took on the Tar Heels of North Carolina. Scrum half Kurt Werner was all over the pitch and put several team mates through for tries. In addition, the team was bolstered from some crunching defensive play from senior Mike Martinez. The team enjoyed contributions from all twelve players and strode comfortably to a second win.
In what was billed in the match of the tournament, AIC took on Kutztown in their final pool match. It was a physical game, so much so that the ref spoke to the captains early on but managed it well. KU scored an early try, but struggled to find any space thereafter. It was no easy road for the Yellow Jackets though, as it took until the second half for Christian Adams to get the team onto the board. Kurt Werner quickly added one of his own and the Yellow Jackets were in control heading into the final minutes. Just after, in a puzzling passage of play, the referee brought back a clear AIC score from a stolen kick off as he deemed himself in the way. From the ensuing scrum, the Golden Bears scooped up an errant pass from the scrum and scored the game winning try. The Yellow Jackets were clearly deflated.
In the tournament’s bronze match, the Yellow Jackets took on conference mates Northeastern University. AIC enjoyed an early lead, but struggled to maintain possession in the final stages and suffered consecutive losses at the final whistle.
While the team’s finish was underwhelming, there was much to take away. AIC welcomed three new players into the sevens team, showed itself to be a powerful scoring threat from nearly anywhere on the field, and set a clear benchmark to move forward from this semester.
The team’s next sevens competition will be its first ever at home. AIC will welcome sixteen teams into the Armory Collegiate Sevens, the first date in the ECRC Sevens Series.
, Ben Roach, Kurtis Werner
Tries: Christian Adams (4), Deshae Edwards (3), Benjamin Roach (4), Kurtis Werner
Conversions: Christian Adams, Bryce Neff, Benjamin Roach (8)
North Carolina State (W 28-20), North Carolina (W 19-5), Kutztown (L 14-19), Northeastern (L 19-22)
In a thrilling end to their 2,500 mile journey, the men’s team won a tense match over the University of Texas to bring home the plate championship at the Las Vegas Invitational this past weekend.
The Las Vegas Invitational is one of the largest rugby tournaments in the country, seeing over 200 teams compete a year in multiple divisions. The collegiate sevens division was packed with big names and quality competition like Oklahoma, Texas, St. Joseph’s, Stony Brook, British Columbia, Notre Dame and others. In all, the college tournament hosted twenty four teams this year.
The Yellow Jackets found themselves matched up against Oklahoma to start competition. After a back and forth start, the Sooners were stunned by long strikes from the Yellow Jackets, AIC, still fighting off a bit of nerves, took a 24-12 victory to open the day.
The University of British Columbia, a long time powerhouse in Canadian rugby, gave AIC its first defeat of the day. UBC was nearly flawless and AIC struggled to find form, opportunity, or structure. AIC would drop this game 0-26 to the eventual tournament champions. The Yellow Jackets ended pool play 1-1 heading into the plate quarterfinals.
That next morning, because of a tight point differential, Oklahoma once again stepped up to bat against the Yellow Jackets. This game, however, was much tighter. The lead changed hands several times and, in sudden death overtime, Christian Adams scored from distance to advance the team to the semi-finals.
A feisty Georgetown team was up next and, with fatigue starting to take its toll, the team was looking for contributions from players more seldom used. The Hoyas fought until the final whistle, but the support and athleticism of AIC saw them through to the plate final against Texas.
In their last game of the tournament, AIC started strong with another long range try from Christian Adams. The Longhorns, however, quickly tied the game with their own. The game was mostly played on the Texas end of the field, and both teams were committing themselves to defense with some tight alignments and big hits. The Yellow Jackets seemed to find their second wind late and were able to lock down some solid pattern play. Junior Deshae Edwards, a Las Vegas native, played a great game without scoring a try. His defense won the ball for AIC several times, and his ball handling led to Adrian Ray getting over the line twice and clinching the game.
After the game, the Yellow Jackets’ supporters (made up of of family, friends, and a few other teams) welcomed them off the field and congratulated them on the big win. Once the competition was over, the players soaked up all the experience they could. They were able to visit with friends and family who had come to watch, attend the USA Sevens at Sam Boyd Stadium, sight see in Las Vegas, and found time to volunteer at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. In addition three players (Roach, Jackson, Adams) were featured on the Northeast Olympic Development Academy‘s two teams enrolled in the men’s elite division of the tournament. It was truly a well rounded and successful trip.
University of Oklahoma (W24-12), University of British Columbia (L0-26), University of Oklahoma (W19-14), Georgetown University (W33-19), University of Texas (W15-5)
Confused on the structure of sevens rugby? Read up on it here.