2011-04-09 SUNY Championship Tournament Report

By Nadal

The Devil’s tournament drought as well as their 2nd place streak ended yesterday in the SUNY Rugby tournament hosted by SUNY Albany at Kiwanis Park.

Game #1
Final Score:

  • SUNY Binghamton – 17
  • SUNY Albany – 10

The Devils first game kicked off the tourney at 9am however some cars were late to arrive. The team already without 4 starters from the Cherry Blossoms Tourney (senior Bill Hetherington, juniors Matt Montalvo, Jungmin Morris, and James Konicoff) moved people around and filled those spots with players eager to make their first impact. Among them were junior Andrew Nenos (flanker), sophomore Nicolas Crecca (flanker), sophomore Chris DeRise (2nd row), freshman Dan Smith (fullback), freshman Ben Stang (prop). Junior Evan Haber was moved from prop to 8 man and junior Alex Trotta was moved from flanker to hooker.

The Devils scored early with a play out to the win inside the 22, the try was scored by junior Nicholas Espoisto (inside center). The rucks were very stable, and combined with junior Marc Ardito (scrum half) getting the ball out quickly the Albany defense was unable to attempt any counter rucks. Close to the goal line again and with a penalty the devils turned to their goal line play, 2 pods of forwards, with a misdirection to senior Eric Lewis-Clark (2nd row) and a pass to Evan Haber for the try. In the 2nd half the cars of starters made it and were ready to go, though the reserves did a great job of their own creating a strong lead until the cavalry arrived With Haber scoring another try off a goal line push, the defense let up a little in the 2nd half, but the lead established would hold until the end of the game. Senior Noah Reichman converted 1 of 3 kicks in the game. Key Players: Sophomore Max Khalilullah (fullback), Senior Garrett Adams (prop)

Game #2
Final Score:

  • SUNY Binghamton – 7
  • SUNY Buffalo – 0

The Devils now at full force played Buffalo at noon, a team which handily defeated them last fall. A narrow field kept the scoring down at well as the 2 team’s large packs, and bend but don’t break defenses. Senior Eric Lewis-Clark (2nd Row) and Junior Sam Ahmed (Hooker) held Buffalo’s pack charges at bay. The devils had chances to score early with Buffalo backed up in the their own zone but penalties once again were a problem and killed the offensive drive. The game was scoreless going into the 2nd half. With Buffalo threatening Nicolas Esposito and Noah Reichman combined for the play of the tournament when Esposito made a crushing tackle as buffalo’s inside center tried to pass the ball out. The hit forced a loose ball which was then kicked twice by Reichman with a man on, and after hitting the post was scooped up and touched down for the try, the conversion by Reichman was also good. From there Buffalo attempted to play the ball quickly, the frantic play gave them some costly mistakes which kept them out of the try zone. The devils would get to the goal line again but would loose the ball on a Buffalo counter ruck. Senior Gavin Boehm (flanker) and Ben Stang provided fresh legs.

In the final minute a penalty to buffalo near the goal line nearly cost the devils the game. Buffalo tried a quick ball to the outside with their pack player with support but a try saving tackle was made by Stang and others. The devils got the ball of a penalty against Buffalo and attempted to kick for touch from their own try zone to end the game. The kick was blocked straight up, hung in the air for about an eternity and was final caught and touched down by Esposito ending the game, and giving Binghamton its first victory over SUNY Buffalo in a long time.

Key Players: Junior Spencer Mendelson (Fly Half), junior Nick Palazzolo (8 Man)

Game #3
Final Score:

  • SUNY Binghamton – 24
  • SUNY Stony Brook – 12

Possibly the Devil’s best game of the day, the team came out firing on all cylinders against Stony Brook, from tackling to rucking Senior Al Nardi (Second Row) and the rest of the pack played tough against a well coached Stony Brook team. The wing had great chemistry going as well, and perfect timing, scoring in the same fashion against Albany with a pass out to Esposito in the first minutes. Noah Reichman would kick for points to extend the lead. The play of the game came from Dan smith who fielded as kick in front of the 22 and processed to run it up. With long strides he made it into open field and broke several arm tackles while weaving in and out of defenders to score an unassisted try. The team lost their captain Noah Reichman to a gash on his head going into half time. The loss was troubling, but flexibility at multiple positions was a key to the game as well as the whole tournament, Sophomore Tom Roeder was placed at fullback, as Senior Ryan Garrigan shifted to end wing. The Loss of their captain was demoralizing for the Devils who would allow SB to begin to creep back into the game until Garrigan stole a pass in SB’s side and took it in for an unassisted try and conversion extending the lead which would give Binghamton the win.

Key Players: Spencer Mendelson (Fly Half), Eric Lewis-Clark (2nd Row)

Game #4
Final Score:

  • SUNY Binghamton – 24
  • SUNY Brockport – 31

As well as the Devils played all day, they played is how bad they started off. Everything started off wrong in this game, the team looked tired, injured, and that lead to many missed tackles. The loss of their captain also led to a lack of chemistry on the wing as Evan Haber moved to inside center, and a dropped ball gave Brockport an easy scoop and score.

The Stony Brook game clearly took a lot out of the team as especially the wing would was battling injuries. This was the only game where the opponent was able to consistently break the gain line on the Devil’s injured wing. Before the team knew what hit them they were down 0-19 and seeing their tournament hopes failing. In a scene all too familiar it looked like the Devils were going to come up short again, until Reichman returned bandaged up to attempt to rally the team. The change was instantaneous the offense came to life and moved the ball down field very quickly. A pass to Evan Haber near the side line led to a penalty try as the defender did not attempt to wrap Haber who had daylight in front of him. At the half the score was 5-24. From there Binghamton poured it on, using numbers on the wing to give tries to Max Khalilullah, and Ryan Garrigan who simply got to the outside and out ran their defenders. Brockport did get another try off a stolen ball in the 2nd half to push their score to 31. Khalilullah and Reichman also combined for a try after a kick by Max was caught and returned, and as the fullback (who had 2 knocks already) tried to offload the ball it was stolen by Noah to score the try. However it wasn’t enough as the Devils were on the other side of a goal line ball stand and lost possession on a penalty. Brockport would kick to touch to end game.

Binghamton now not only lost the game they also lost control of their fate in the tourney, leaving it to be decided in the Buffalo vs Stony Brook game late in the day. Though they could not secure the comeback the second half rally would come into play later.

SUNY Buffalo vs SUNY Stony Brook (19-5)

Both teams went into this game with a 2-1 record with the winner moving into a tie with Binghamton. In case of a tie the tourney would be decided on points (4 for a win and 1 for scoring 4 tries), Binghamton had gotten 12 points on the day and the game against Brockport gave them a bonus point, both Buf. and SB had 9 points going into the game and both were trying to score for bonus points to put them ahead of Binghamton. Buffalo scored first with a pack charge and SB answered with a try of their own putting the score at 7-5 at halftime. Buffalo would score twice more before the final minute while the Devils watched from the sideline unable to do anything about it. SB kicked off with one minute remaining, Buffalo marched down field to the goal line, as time expired and the tournament would be decided on the final phase of play. After several more pack charges the ball was finally killed in a ruck ending the game.

After the game the scores were read, both Buffalo and Binghamton tied in both record (3-1) and points (13) leaving the tie breaker to be the head to head match up with was won by Binghamton, giving the Devils their first win in tournament play in over two years. The trophy was presented to captain Noah Reichman who held it among chants of “MVP” from the rest of the team.

B-Side notes Binghamton’s Killer B’s were also in action at the SUNY tournament though they failed to score a try the effort from many inexperienced players was definitely there. Many of these players were playing in their first real games and some provided valuable time in the A-side games as well. Many of the plays were pick and goes as at was the most practiced maneuver of their young careers. Unfortunately the lack of practice between the team left a lot of chemistry to be desired on offense but there were many bright spots in the defense. A lot of tough hits showed that with more practice they will sure up the other phases of their game.