AIC wins East Coast Rugby Conference Sevens Championship

AIC hoisting the cup from Al Baker 7's

AIC hoisting the cup from Al Baker 7′s

Al Baker 7′s was the last stop in the East Coast Rugby Conference Sevens Series and, though they held a dramatic lead in series points, AIC entered the day wanting to put an exclamation point at the end of a successful sevens season. They did just that, beating conference rivals Albany and Northeastern en route to a third consecutive tournament win and the overall conference championship.

AIC started the day against Northeastern’s second side. The muddy pitch seemed to slow the team down and the young Northeastern team put up a very spirited fight. In the second half, the Yellow Jackets ended the game with a stiff counter ruck from Bryce Neff and the turnover ball quickly moved wide to Christian Adams, who was more than happy to finish and dot the ball down.

Moving forward to Albany, the Yellow Jackets adjusted their defensive strategy to limit the Great Danes’ unpredictable play. In order to cope with the mud, AIC relied on more downhill runs by forwards Bryce Neff and Corey Momsen. Neff found the try zone late with a switch from the big man Momsen, and Ben Roach added two of his own with some hard runs in midfield.

In the day’s final game, the Yellow Jackets paired off with a familiar rival–the Northeastern Huskies. The CRC bound Huskies came out fighting with some strong runs and stronger tackles. AIC responded with their hallmark defensive pressure, and forced a kick gathered by Kurt Werner. Werner crossed field to buy himself time and find support, only to show and go, slide through the defense, and score the game’s only try. Late in the game, the Huskies put the Yellow Jackets under immense pressure near their goal line but were undone by a strong defensive effort led by Adrian Ray and Gavan D’Amore-Morrison.

Ben Roach was named the MVP of the final, and took home the “Harp Award” given by the hosts. After the tournament, both teams gathered round to hear a little bit about Al Baker, the tournament namesake. He was a long time coach of the Minutemen and a true ambassador for the sport. UMASS hopes to host the tournament every year in his honor.

The tournament victory, third consecutive for AIC, capped off an undefeated season in conference and saw them crowned champions of the East Coast Rugby Conference Sevens Series.

Results

Northeastern B (W 19-0), Albany (W 20-7), Northeastern (W 5-0)

Scorers

Tries: Kurtis Werner (2), Christian Adams (2), Corey Momsen, Ben Roach (2), Bryce Neff

Conversions: Ben Roach (2)

The AIC B team, affectionately known as the Rhinos, enjoyed a much improved week as well. They enjoyed a competitive game with Northeastern, nearly beat UMASS, and found a win against Amherst College. The team was led by captain Jamal Hadley, who kept the lineups fresh and showed some impressive sevens mettle for a tighthead prop. The team was buoyed by some long runs and solid support by Ernest Mitchell and Jalil Oates, but the team as a whole played some very convincing sevens. Congrats on a great to day to them.

 

AIC wins Snowbowl Sevens

The team sharing feedback after a game

The team sharing feedback after a game

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.

AIC vs NEU

AIC vs NEU

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.

Match Results
Albany (W 22-12), Northeastern (W 7-5), AIC Rhinos (W 29-5), Middlebury (W 27-12), Northeastern (19-0)

Scorers
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.

Women Defeat Northeastern Under the Lights

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.

Nicole_NU

Nicole Valli on Attack

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.

Haley_NU

Tackle by Haley Schafer

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.

Tries:
Jess Davis (4); Shontel Marks; Rosalind Pena (2); Carrie Vaillancourt (2); Nicole Valli (2)

Conversions:
Cassidy Meyers (2)

AIC Wins Armory Collegiate Sevens

Deshae Edwards pressing forward mid-deluge

Deshae Edwards pressing forward mid-deluge

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
Northeastern MIddlebury AIC Boston College
UMASS UCONN Albany UMASS Lowell
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.

armory2

Kurtis Werner restarting play during the final

Final Standings
1. AIC *cup champs*
2. New England College
3. UMASS
4. Boston College
5. Middlebury *plate champs*
6. Albany
7/8. Northeastern/UMASS Lowell
9. Western New England *bowl champs*
10. Coast Guard
11/12. Stonehill/UCONN
13. Dartmouth *shield champs*
14. Westfield State
15. Mass Maritime
16.  Bowdoin

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.

Name School Tries Cons Total
Ben Roach AIC 6 8 46
Brendan Murphy Stonehill 7 4 43
Joe D’Antonio Boston College 5 7 39
Adam Schreiber MIddlebury 2 11 32
Sean Kimmins Albany 5 25
David Cunnane Albany 3 5 25
Craig Spyropoulos Western New England 5 25

AIC Results
Albany (W26-17); Western New England (W43-0); Bowdoin (W19-0); UMASS (W17-0); New England College (W12-0)

AIC Scorers
Tries:
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
Conversions:
Ben Roach (8), Josue Guerra, Bryce Neff

Click here for more tournament pictures.

AIC celebrating the cup victory

AIC celebrating the cup victory

AIC Women Crowned Four Leaf Champions

teamThe 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!

team_trophyA 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

 

Win Over Harvard Gives Yellow Jackets a Solid Platform from which to Build

Harvard_pic2

Center Haley Schafer making the hit

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_pic

Wing Nicole Valli battles in contact

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.

Tries:
Jess Davis (3); Anna Mbengam (2); Cassidy Meyers; Maggie O’Rourke; Megan Pinson; Carrie Vaillancourt; Nicole Valli

Conversions:
Cassidy Meyers (3)

Click here to see more pictures!

AIC Teams Attend Serevi Camp in Boston

Some of the AIC campers with Coach Denham

Some of the AIC campers with Coach Denham

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.

Coach Macy needs a better camera phone.

Some of the AIC men’s campers

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.”

Thank you to thisisamericanrugby.com for some of the above info. Full details about the upcoming series of Training Camps, including registration, is available at serevirugby.com.

Women’s Team in Top 4 of National D1 College Rankings

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
2. Norwich
3. Stanford
4. American International College
5. Northern Iowa

For the rest of the top 20, click here for rugbymag.com’s full article.

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.

Men’s Team Splits Games at ACRL Sevens

Deshae Edwards leaving one of many defenders behind

Deshae Edwards leaving one of many defenders behind

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.

Werner speeding away from Kutztown

Werner speeding away from Kutztown

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.

The team needs to continue to look inward moving forward

The team must continue to look inward moving forward

Roster
Christian Adams, Gavan D’Amore-Morrison, Monte Davis, Deshae Edwards, Blake Gurgul, Justin Leaphart, Michael Martinez, Corey Momsen, Bryce Neff, Adrian Ray

, Ben Roach, Kurtis Werner

Scorers
Tries: Christian Adams (4), Deshae Edwards (3), Benjamin Roach (4), Kurtis Werner
Conversions: Christian Adams, Bryce Neff, Benjamin Roach (8)

Results
North Carolina State (W 28-20), North Carolina (W 19-5), Kutztown (L 14-19), Northeastern (L 19-22)

Click here to see more pictures from the tournament.

Men’s Vegas Video Recap

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