Friday, May 4, 2012

WNEC Rugby v. Springfield Rifles Pre-Match

Three years ago this team was founded, cobbling together what we thought amounted to some sort of practice on a field behind the library they called the 'Tundra.' We had few resources, little direction, and no idea what the future would hold for us.

We began practicing alongside the Springfield Rifles RFC. They taught us almost everything we knew at that point, helping us to a draw against Franklin Pierce University in our first-ever foray onto the pitch as a team, and then to a dominant eight-try shutout in a scrimmage against the nascent Westfield State program, the beginning of a local rivalry that continues to this day.

During the last week before everyone went home for the summer, our captain and founder, Brian "Blee" Costello, sent out a text calling the available members of the team to the campus center. A number of us made it to the meeting, and Blee read aloud the letter that informed us we had been accepted into the New England Rugby Football Union's Fourth Division for the next fall. We were in business.

We won the Division that year, booked ourselves a place in D-III after that, where we remain currently.

This match against the Rifles, it is going to be the end of an era for this club. This will the last match to feature any of the Originals, the men who remember the Tundra. Next fall, WNEC Rugby will join the Colonial Coast Conference, part of a nationwide re-structuring of collegiate rugby as well as marking a new era for the club filled with new challenges and many new opponents. The New Leaders have already stepped to the plate and we trust in leaving the team in their hands, but this last match will celebrate the Old Guard as much as it will the future.

The lineup will be as follows:
1 - Ryan "Shedlock" Shultz
2 - Jon "Frenchie Where's My Eyebrow?" Ouellette
3 - Mike Fielding
4 - Jake Eastman
5 - Sean Gallagher
6 - DJ Shermer
7 - Johnny Esposito (Senior)
8 - Cheers Tom 8-man Get Me a Jersey LeClair (Senior)

9 - Zack Phelan
10 - Anthony Caprio (Senior)
11 - Barney Davis (Senior)
12 - Stephen Farnham
13 - "Weird" Will Reilly
20 - Jon Fields (Senior)
15 - La Quan "Pookie" Schoolfield

Johnny Esposito makes his final appearance in the number 7 jersey that has been indisputably his from the very beginning. A talismanic presence, Espo will rightly end his time here in a position he made his own. For years to come, he will be the standard by which all WNEC openside flankers will be judged.

Tom LeClair, who began his career at lock but has since developed himself into one of the most versatile and complete rugby players out there. Although starting at eightman, he could slot into almost any other position on the field with ease.

Ant Caprio began his career at Nichols College before joining the boys in blue. A fiery and hardnosed competitor, it is great that he gets one last chance to pull on the jersey with the club before the curtain falls.

Barney Davis has been a member of this club longer than anyone else left, appointing himself historian and song leader. Having toiled away at winger, center, flyhalf, fullback, scrumhalf, flanker, and hooker over the years, he makes his final appearance where it all began, the left wing.

Jon Fields was a late addition to the team but the brevity of his service has done little to limit his impact. He topped the try scoring charts last fall and looks to add more to his jacket as he makes his last appearance for the team in his favored number 20 jersey.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

WNEC Rugby v. University of Hartford 4-28-12

The University of Hartford and WNEC Rugby share a longstanding rivalry. This was the fifth match between the sides with a lot of history behind the battle. WNEC had beaten UHart four times out of four previous to this match, with the Hawks craving that first win over the boys from just north up I-91. Moreover, this marked the last match for UHart for the season, as well as WNEC's final tie against collegiate opposition. Emotions were running high from the start.

The starting lineup was as follows:
1 - Ryan "Shedlock" Shultz
2 - Jon "Frenchie Where's My Eyebrow" Ouellette
3 - Cheers Tom Get Me a Jersey LeClair
4 - Sean Gallagher
5 - Jake Eastman
6 - Joe Monaco
7 - Dave "DJ" Shermer
8 - Stephen "Try Machine" Farnham

9 - Zack Phelan
10 - Seth "Meat" Metcalf
11 - Dan Palmer
12 - Craig Spyropoulos
13 - "Weird" Will Reilly
14 - Dalton Boglisch
15 - La Quan "Pookie" Schoolfield

WNEC barely made it to the field in time for kickoff and also realized only then that the jerseys had been left in Springfield. But, in a twist of fate, this proved oddly fitting as the club took to the field wearing a motley collection of training jerseys and t-shirts, echoing the disheveled mix of jerseys we had worn in the team's first matches three years previous.

The WNEC defense, scrum, and lineout were all excellent, but some of the worst one-sided refereeing I've ever seen kept handing the ball to UHart every time WNEC hammered their way to the tryline. Eventually, the Hawks caught the break they were looking for, their winger cruising over after a long sprint down an overloaded sideline. The attempt at a conversion was laughable at best and the halftime scoreline stood at 5-0, in favor of the home team.

At this point, WNEC made three substitutions. A direct swap was made at winger with Tyler Modlish coming on for Dalton Boglisch. Tom LeClair was forced from field with a rib injury, which sent the hulking figure of John Loubier Jr. into second row and bumped Jake Eastman to tighthead prop. Lastly, a sprained ankle brought Seth Metcalf off the pitch and the crafty Jon Fields replaced him.

After the half, Stephen Farnham solidified himself atop the scoring chart for the spring campaign with his fourth try, burrowing a path through a crowd of defenders to score. Ryan Shultz converted easily, later adding a penalty kick to his tally before UHart struck back through their winger again to knot the scores at 10-10.

WNEC refused to give in to the home side and barged back down into opposition territory again. Johnny Esposito ran into space before his offload was scooped up by winger Tyler Modlish, who skirted over for a try in the corner just past the arms of the scrambling defenders. The conversion just barely failed to hook around enough and WNEC were back in the lead.

Again though, the lead was short lived. UHart now found life through their imposing replacement prop who carried with an impressive blend of pace and power, running to effect with their backline. His runs eventually put his side in position for another tying score, bringing the match to 15-15 with plenty of time to play. After this try, Johnny Esposito was dispatched to the field as a replacement for Joe Monaco after a tireless effort from the starter.

UHart renewed their attack immediately after collecting the restart, blitzing down into the WNEC red zone and putting extreme pressure on the defense, but the line held firm. Defensive efforts were committed with heart and soul, holding up the UHart attack twice after they breached the tryline, denying the Hawks at every point.

While the home team seemed to be on the ascendancy, the tables turned in the blink of an eye when inspirational Captain Dave Shermer turned the ball over and flew 90 meters to score, barging over two would-be tacklers, side-stepping two more with almost casual ease, and then burning all the rest to dot it down directly under the posts. Shultz converted handily to extend the lead to 22-15.

UHart did not go quietly into that good night however, marching back down the the WNEC line, befitting the drama of the match so far. Their attacks were centered near the posts, knowing their kicker was off target and that his conversion attempt was critical, but the defense held firm, eventually forcing them to send their prop down the wing to get it over in the corner. The kick would be a difficult one, even for the best kickers, and the attempt was horribly mangled for the fourth time on the day, giving WNEC a two point lead with mere minutes to play.

The defense flew downfield off the kick and pinned the home side deep in their own territory. Uhart struggled to move the ball back up the pitch but the choking defense forced an error as they tossed the ball directly into a charging defender and scrumhalf Zack Phelan soon sent the egg sailing out of play to notch WNEC;s fifth victory in as many attempts over the University of Hartford.

Man of the Match - Dave Shermer, without a doubt. Few players are as effective as him, both offensively and defensively, and he demonstrated his ability to the greatest extent from kickoff to the final whistle. A true Captain, he is entirely deserving of this award, the game-winning try notwithstanding.

Hitman - Craig Spyropoulos. I don't know what it was, but Craig was a man on a mission today. His challenges were massively forceful, leveling attacker after attacker without relent. Some men win this award through one earth-shaking hit, other earn it through a dominant match-long effort. Craig has won it today thorough both.

WNEC 22 (Tries S. Farnham, T. Modlish, D. Shermer, Conversion 2/3 R. Shultz, Penalty Goals 1/1 R. Shultz) defeated UHart 20 (4 Tires, Conversions 0/4)

WNEC Rugby at Beast of the East 2012, Match Two

The lineup for the second match at Beast of the East 201, against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was as follows:

1 - Ryan "Shedlock" Shultz
2 - Kevin Murray
3 - Cheers Tom Get Me a Jersey LeClair
4 - Jon "Frenchie Where's My Eyebrow?" Ouellette 
5 - Timmy Smith 
6 - Joe Monaco 
7 - Johnny Esposito 
8 - Stephen Farnham 

9 - Zack Phelan 
10 - Jon Fields 
11 - Tyler Modlish 
12 - Craig Spyropoulos 
13 - Dan Fonseca 
14 - "Weird" Will Reilly 
15 - Tyler "Styles" Wong

Several players were shuffled to account for injury and absences. The versatile Tom LeClair appears at tighthead with Jon Ouellette swapping to second row. Will Reilly bumps out to wing with Dan Fonseca back in the centers while Tyler Wong makes his brave return from an injury sustained in the first week of the season.

Conditions were borderline unplayable even before kickoff and were declining rapidly. While wind and rain are well known to any New England rugger, the incoming fog was impenetrably thick. By halftime, it would be impossible to see more than halfway across the field. In the interests of player safety, this match should frankly not have been allowed to happen.

However, the match did happen, and both sides played direct, powerful rugby. Although RPI had the larger side but WNEC fronted up and hit hard all match long. However, our opponents in red had the upper hand in the scrums and their questionable tactics at the ruck were overlooked by a referee who wanted more to finish the match quickly and call it a day rather than do his job.

RPI ground themselves to a two-try lead by halftime, but the gap was cut to three when eightman Stephen Farnham got scent of the tryline and burrowed over for his score. Ryan Shultz duly converted, despite the difficult winds.

However, the comeback was not to be. RPI scored again in a manner I did not see, due to the fog, although the conversion flew wide. From then on, they settled into a kicking-based gameplan, using the weather to their advantage. The fog was so thick that any boot sent the ball completely out of sight, and the receivers had only to wait for it either to drop into their hands by pure chance or scramble frantically towards wherever they heard it fall to the sodden earth.

An injury to hooker Kevin Murray exacerbated the lineup situation as Ouellette had to shift to hooker, Farnham move to lock, Spyropoulos joined the pack at eight, and brought Seth Metcalf on at outside center.

With time winding down, a late penalty kick from RPI directly in front of the sticks moved their advantage to 18-7, and the scoreline remained as such til the final whistle.

Despite the loss, WNEC played well. Our commitment was absolute. Although we started slow, a persistent  demon of ours, the team refused to give up or give in and fought back into it. Although it may be an oft-used cliche, this match was much closer than the scoreboard suggests.

Man of the Match - It is difficult to pick a man of the match here, mostly due to the simple issue that by halftime, half the field was out of vision. Forwards Ouellette, Farnham, and LeClair were tireless with ball in hand while Esposito and Monaco were mobile hit machines all match long while Spyropoulos looked always dangerous with ball in hand. Quite simply, I don't feel right naming any individual as giving more than any other as all who took that field fought hard and with full commitment.

Hitman - While Esposito and Monaco were their usual relentless selves, it was a back who scooped the award with one monster tackle. Fullback Tyler Wong made a leveling challenge on a titanic-sized ballcarrier, illustrating fully his value to the team when he's on the field

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WNEC Rugby at Beast of the East 2012, Match One

This club has come a long way since we got started.

From our humbled beginnings on the soggy patch of ground once called the Tundra, we have built on the strong  base our Founders left for us, marking another milestone in the club's history this past weekend by making out first appearance at the famed Beast of the East Rugby Tournament in the Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The Beast is the largest collegiate rugby tournament in the world and to compete alongside the likes of world renowned institutions such as Boston College, Boston University, UConn, Syracuse, and others is a measurement of how far we have come in just three short years.

Our debut was made under slate grey New England skies, the threat of rain prominent. The opponent was St Anselm College of Manchester, New Hampshire, a respected Division II club.

The starting lineup was as follows:
1 - Ryan "Shedlock" Shultz
2 - Kevin Murray
3 - Jon "Frenchie" "Where's My Eyebrow?" Ouellette
4 - Timmy Smith
5 - Cheers Tom Get Me a Jersey LeClair
6 - Joe Monaco
7 - Johnny Esposito
8 - Dan Fonseca

9 - Zack Phelan
10 - Jon Fields
11 - Barney Davis
12 - Craig Spyropoulos
13 - "Weird" Will Reilly
14 - Dan "Flow Biscuit" Palmer
15 - Tyler Modlish

A pack shuffle saw usual hooker Frenchie Ouellette move to tighthead and Kevin Murray come on at hook for his first appearance of the season next to omnipresent loosehead Ryan Shultz. Timmy Smith returns after wasting the previous weeks playing some other sport which shall not be named alongside former Captain and ultimate utility forward Tom LeClair in the second row. Monaco and Espo remain at the flanks while usual center Fonseca mixes it with the forwards on this occasion. Despite the reshuffle, the pack was a traditional WNEC one: big hitters and direct carriers across the board.

In the backs, Phelan and Fields formed a skillful halfback pairing with Spyropoulos at 12 and Will Reilly marking his return from injury with a start alongside the powerful runner in the centers. The grouchy veteran Barney Davis started at left wing across from the affable Dan Palmer, with Tyler Modlish at fullback. Fields and Spyropoulos brought their incisive runs and were supported by strong defensive play from their outside backs.

The match began with St Anselm bringing a high-paced attack into a heavy-footed WNEC side who initially struggled to keep pace, leaking a pair of tries in the process. Although WNEC's defensive play was gritty and fully committed, with every member contributing manfully, particularly fullback Tyler Modlish, St Anselm were simply too smooth and fluid for a defense that seemed just one step behind the pace.

However, midway through the first half something clicked in the club's collective psyche and the team fought back with renewed determination and purpose. We laid siege to their tryline for much of the second quarter of the game. As St Anselm tried to run it out from their own line, a big hit from a WNEC loose forward sent the ball spilling loose. Davis dove on it and scrambled past two tacklers to get within five meters of the line before an accidental knee to the head brought halt to the game and ruled out the winger for the rest of the day's action, with Seth Metcalf coming on to replace his dazed comrade. WNEC did not let this pause in play slow their effort and the battle continued as it had left off. Eventually, the line was broken when Jon Ouellette found his way to the wing and barged over in the corner for his first try. The difficult conversion was taken by the wind at the last second but we were on the board, down 12-5 at halftime.

In the second half, WNEC again showed power and defensive grit before the match began to take its toll. Luke Zito came from the sideline to take over at right wing for Dan Palmer, but when scrumhalf Zack Phelan left the field the shuffling became even more extreme, sending Palmer back to the pitch at the left wing, pushing Metcalf into the centers and Spyropoulos to scrumhalf. St Anselm widened their advantage with a pair of cheap tries in the far corner skirting around the defense after every attempt to go through it had been rebuffed, but WNEC hit back late through Spyropoulos and cut the final scoreline to 22-12.

Although the match was lost, WNEC had held their own against a much more slick and fluid side and must be commended for such. It was the little margins where we lost this one: in the opening salvos where, again, it took the sting of blood drawn to awaken us, and late when the defense lost its shape and allowed the attack to overload a wing without covering the channel. These mistakes happen because we are struggling to get numbers to practice and cannot properly simulate game situations. Despite this, individual efforts were stellar across the board and this match could very easily have gone another way.

Man of the Match - Johnny Esposito. Our talismanic openside flanker was at his destructive best today, playing in an absolutely tireless fashion, and making himself a forceful presence at the ruck and tackle. He was the heart and soul of the team's effort that day, and also earns himself the Hitman award for his relentless defensive showing.

St Anselm 22 (4 Tries, 1/4 Conversions) to WNEC 12 (Tries J. Ouellette, C. Spyropoulos, 1/2 Conversions R. Shultz)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WNEC v. Holy Cross and UMass Lowell Match Reports

WNEC struggled to compete with the firepower of two D2 clubs on Saturday, but did account well for themselves to leave the field, even if not with a win, with their opponents' respect.

The first match against Holy Cross got off to a poor start as WNEC leaked three tries in the first half to find themselves adrift 19-0 at halftime. The long drive down the Pike followed by a prolonged layover before Holy Cross arrived left WNEC flat in the first period, which a skillful Holy Cross side took advantage of with a high-tempo gameplan and fluid ball distribution to their outside backs. It took until the closing minutes if the fist half for WNEC to establish themselves defensively and begin running with the authority our powerful carriers are usually known for.

Immediately after the break WNEC came out firing and Tom LeClair was able to find his way across the line to score an unconverted try, but we were not to score again, suffering the all too frequent problem of struggling to break through the defense even after prolonged periods besieging the tryline. Holy Cross regained the ascendancy during the final quarter, bagging three more tries against a tired defense to claim victory by the wide margin of 40-5.

Two substitutions were made over the course of the match, with Ryan Donovan making his debut off the bench at lock while Barney Davis made his second appearance of the season as a temporary blood sub for Tyler Modlish.

Naming a man of the match for this contest seems inappropriate as the team as a whole struggled and no player showed the consistent exceptional effort to deserve the accolade.

Holy Cross 40 (6 tries, 5/6 conversions) to WNEC 5 (Try T. LeClair, 0/1 conversion)

In the second match, WNEC fielded a heavily shuffled lineup comprised primarily of the lesser experienced players. While Shultz and Fielding maintained their positions at prop, usual eightman Stephen Farnham made his first appearance at hooker. Travis Collins returned from the wilderness to start at lock alongside Sean Gallagher in the engine room. John Loubier appeared at eightman while Carlo Sarmiento made his debut at flanker across from Ryan Donovan at the other flank, who had debuted off the bench in the previous contest. Int he backline, Joe Monaco started as scrumhalf with a backline consisting of Seth Metcalf at flyhalf, Dan Palmer and Brendan Remetta at wings, La Quan Schoolfield and Luke Zito in the centers, with Tyler Modlish at fullback. Zito and Metcalf were making their debuts.

This lineup played defensively very well but struggled offensively, primarily due to its jury-rigged nature. UMass eventually forged their way to a 13-7 victory but we made to work extensively for it. Two changes were made int he pack with Gallagher and Loubier making way for Tom LeClair and "J.J." Jason John, respectively, with the later making his debut. Although UMass scored a pair of tries and a penalty to get out to a 13-0 lead, the run of play was actually much closer than the scoreboard suggests.

Farnham eventually got WNEC on the scoreboard with an incisive run through the defense that LeClair converted but there just wasn't the time left for the comeback to continue and the match ended 13-7.

Unlike the first game, the Man of the Match was clear in this one. La Quan "Pookie" Schoolfield was a dominant defensive force, leveling any and all who dared carry the ball near him. Even men twice his size were smashed to ground by forceful challenges and UMass made a distinct effort to carry near the big hitter less and less, only for him to use his immense speed to go to where they were and continue putting in a storm of powerful tackles, any one of which was also capable of scooping the Hit of the Match award as well.

UMass Lowell 13 (2 Tries, 0/2 conversions, 1/1 penalty) to WNEC 7 (Try S. Farnham, Conversion T. LeClair)

Although we struggled this week important lessons on defensive shape were learned and new combinations were experimented with. The team is stronger after this and will use these losses as motivation this coming weekend when we make out club debut at the Beast of the East rugby tournament in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

WNEC v. UMass Lowell and Holy Cross

WNEC Rugby will take on UMass Lowell and Holy Cross. Lineup for the first match is as follows:

1 - Ryan Shultz
2 - Jon "Frenchie" Ouellette
3 - Mike Fielding
4 - Tom LeClair
5 - John Loubier Jr.
6 - Sean Gallagher
7 - Joe Monaco
8 - Stephen Farnham

9 - Zack Phelan
10 - Brendan Remetta
11 - Dan "Flow Biscuit" Palmer
12 - Craig Spyropoulos
13 - Dan Fonseca
14 - Tyler Modlish
15 - La Quan "Pookie" Schoolfield

This lineup does see some changes from the previous two starting sides this season. Veteran forward and former Captain Tom LeClair reprises an old role at lock while the hard grafting Sean Gallagher shifts to blindside flanker. Brendan Remetta will make his first A-side start at flyhalf while Tyler Modlish is the sole debutante at winger.

This side brings a front row who are effective in both loose and tight work, a big second row, and a back row with plenty of hitting capability, as well as a backline who look to continue their tough defensive showing.

The lineup for the second match will be contingent on the survival rate for the first as well as the pool of available reserves.

In other Springfield rugby news, the Springfield Rifles RFC defeated Springfield College by a score of 20-17 with two WNEC Rugby alumni in action. The absolute brick wall of Chris "Skidz" Scuderi started at the number four lock while Club Founder Brian "Blee" Costello put on a good showing from flyhalf after serving the club he created as a hooker and scrumhalf. Both provided years of commendable service in the blue jersey and this blog and the club wish them all the best with their new brothers in the ranks of the Rifles.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Western New England v. WCSU Match Report

Despite a heroic effort, a depleted WNEC Rugby side could not overcome their opponents yesterday, falling on the wrong side of a 17-8 scoreline.

Things were off to a shaky start from the very off, with absences in the backline forcing a reshuffle, leading to the inclusion of the skillful attacking winger Jon Fields at fullback and rookie Feras Bankhar making his debut at winger after a strong B-side performance the week previous. Soon after kickoff the backs suffered another blow as Captain and flyhalf Leo Belval limped from the field, forcing Jon Fields to move up to take his spot at first receiver while winger La Quan "Pookie" Schoolfield reprised his role at fullback while veteran back Barney Davis came on at the left wing after missing last week with a concussion.

Kicker Ryan Shultz notched his club's first points with a penalty kick from roughly thirty meters out, which WCSU responded to with a pair of unconverted tries. WCSU were able to play much of the first half in WNEC territory, particularly through their lineout, which was only strong because this match was under the jurisdiction of the only ref I've ever seen who allows a team to fake the throw-in. WCSU, being the dastardly fiends that they are, displayed an intent in complete contradiction to the spirit of our game to deliberately use this to negate WNEC's usually strong lineout, obviously knowing full well they could not hope to compete with the aerial skills of flanker Dave Shermer on a level playing field.

WNEC hit back, however, challenging the home defenders directly, hammering away into the twenty-two on numerous occasions, with inside center Craig Spyropoulos a particular force with ball in hand, only for the referee to again and again frustrate their efforts until Spyropoulos powered past a defender, then showed the awareness to choose a great line and cruise over past the covering defense and score. Shultz barely missed the kick and the scoreline remained 8-10 at halftime.

Coach Big Rob Guiry swapped in a winger at halftime, with late arrival Dan Palmer making his first appearance of the season with Davis coming off after the later's biggest contribution in the first half was a scrap on the sideline with the opposition blindside flanker after the villainous lout had taken offense to being placed in a front headlock and gator-rolled out of a ruck by a back-three man. (Note: He was bridging anyway, so he deserved it.)

The second half remained scoreless for much off the play, with valiant attempts by WNEC rebuffed by and large not by heroic defense but by a one-eyed referee. His calls consistently favored WCSU, allowing them to bridge and illegally scoop the ball out at the ruck to the content of their cowardly hearts. Veteran utility forward and former Captain "Cheers Tom 8-man" LeClair was dispatched to the field when another injury to the backline saw winger Feras Bankhar leave the pitch. Flanker Joe Monaco was shuffled to the wing.

By this point, the WNEC pack was beginning to tire, particularly the front row, playing their second match in as many weeks without substitution. WCSU was able to capitalize on this with a number of reserves entering the pitch to take advantage of a club who's ranks were depleted by injury and lack of numbers due to family commitments of many players during this holiday weekend. (This of course goes to show that even their own parents don't like the WCSU rugby team.)

Tired legs allowed for WCSU's outside center to weave past the defense and score, extending the lead to nine points with thirteen minutes to go. WNEC threw themselves at the defense with all they had left, but despite a lengthy siege of the tryline couldn't find a way over and the match came to a close with WCSU the victors by 17-8.

Despite the scoreline, WNEC played well and must be proud of their effort, particularly in regards to refusing to sink to the low level of sportsmanship their opponents were all too happy to wallow in like the swine they are. A one-eyed referee did little to help things, particularly in allowing WCSU to get away with cynical offenses and while simultaneously holding WNEC to the very letter of the law. In the face of such adversity, coupled with injuries new and old, WNEC stood their ground and fought back, and although ultimately could not overcome these obstacles, must take pride in a draining, herculean effort.

Man of the Match this week goes to inside center Craig Spyropoulos. He imposed himself offensively and defensively, putting in a number of big hits and ran with power, agility, and pace even as the defense swarmed around him. Fullback Pookie Schoolfield must also be mentioned for his three trysaving tackles, each of which stopped a charging attacker in his tracks and drove the man out of bounds. Flanker Dave Shermer was omnipresent as well, chasing down the ballcarrier all over the pitch and putting in some impressive carries as well. Zack Phelan was again his combative, fearless self and heavily pressured his opposite number all match long.

The newly minted Hit of the Match award goes to Tom LeClair for a leveling tackle on the opposing scrumhalf as the man worked to spun the ball away. Schoolfield and Spyropoulos were both close with some big challenges of their own and will both look to take this accolade for themselves next week.

All in all, WNEC played a spirited game and refused to crumble in the face of adversity. Although we did not pick up a victory, we played well and fought hard and must take pride in our effort. There is admittedly a lot that needs to still be worked on, but our performance in this match is a solid foundation to build on.

WNEC 8 (Try C. Spyropoulos, Penalty R. Shultz) to WCSU 17 (Three tries, 1/3 conversions)

Leo takes on the defense with hooker Jon Ouellette in support.

The back row add their weight to the scrum.

Man of the Match Craig Spyropoulos brings the ball forward.

Credit to Dan Fonseca for the photos.