D1A Round of 8: Navy Edged Out By Cal

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by: Alex Goff via FloRugby

The US Naval Academy gave as good as it got and almost pulled off a famous upset Saturday, but eventually lost 33-27 to Cal at Witter Field in Berkeley, CA.

In an exciting, physical, back-and-forth game, the teams traded tries. Neither could break away, and Navy held a slim 15-10 lead at the break. Cal tied it up early in the second half. 

Connor McNerny and Nic Mirhashem scored tries to make it 20-20, but then Cal made the move. Bryan Joyce capped off a nice movement by Cal, and then the Bears came right back to score once more.

At 30-20 Cal had some breathing room, but not for long. Cole Euverard went over for Navy, and McNerney's difficult conversion went over to make it 30-27.

D1A Round of 16: Navy Shuts Out Big Ten Champions Indiana

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by: Alex Goff via Florugby

Navy shut out Big Ten champion Indiana 47-0 in Bloomington, IN Saturday to move on to the D1A Quarterfinals.

While Indiana came into the game with a reputation for scoring points, the Navy defense stymied the Hoosiers, and exposed what has been somewhat of a leaky defense by IU.

A snappy run from center John Fiorelli, set up by an attacking scrum, started it off for Navy in the 9th minutes, but it wasn't until the final ten minutes of the second half that Navy really started to take control. Flanker Sam Davis powered over for one, and then an excellent weaving run from wing Michael Samaniego made it 19-0 at the break.

"We probably tried to play too much rugby in the first half," said Navy head coach Gavin Hickie. "It was difficult weather conditions and we were prepared to play a more tight forward game. We needed to do that and once we tightened things up a bit, we played better."

Five minutes into the second half, flanker Thomas Craig finished off a very nice vertical attack from the Midshipment. And in the final 20 minutes forwards John Magness and Michael Galvan went over. Scrumhalf Gardy Lebon finished the scoring off.

No. 8 Connor McNerney converted all but one of those tries for the 47-0 score.

"I was very happy with our defense," said Hickie. "There are a number of things we can do better, and we certainly can be more accurate in our lineouts and in kicking to touch, things like that. But our defense effort was good."

Navy faces the winner of Cal and GCU next week.

 

Navy 47
Tries: Fiorelli, Davis, Samaniego, Craig, Magness, Galvan, Lebon
Convs: McNerney 6

Indiana 0

3,000 Fans Watch Navy v Army at The Brigade Sports Complex

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3.24.18 By Evan Lappen of Rugbytoday.com

Down by three points in stoppage time, the play started with a scrum at the 22. Navy’s eightman pick gained some ground and the ball was sent to the right to the backs. The forwards had their opportunity before it was swung to the right. The physical Army defense was waiting on the wing and stuffed the attempt at the line. The referee signaled a held ball and blew the final whistle sending the West Point faithful into a celebratory frenzy as Army beat Navy, 18-15.

“Everything we did this year was to prepare for this game and I’m beyond proud of the boys,” Army captain Jake Lachina said. “That’s what Army rugby is all about. No matter how much the pressure, we won’t give up in the end. We knew we had to make a stop when we did. It shows how much heart the guys have and how hard we work every day. Going forward we have to keep that mindset into the playoffs.

It was a brutal, physical affair in Annapolis, Md. as hard hits, cards, and defensive stands ruled the pitch. Army triumphed over Navy for the fifth time in a row as both clubs prepare for the final push towards the D1A Playoffs. Former Army General H.R. McMaster was in attendance and gave a pregame speech to the Black Knights.

“[McMaster] summed up what you saw in the game,” Army head coach Matt Sherman stated. “He mentioned his time with the rugby team influenced him as an officer and a leader in the Army.  It’s how important it is to build teams that you can absolutely depend on and trust the guy on the left and right of you. That player is fully committed to you and that’s what our team delivered today. I think he would be proud.”

The first part of the match was primarily played in Navy’s half as the clubs tested each other’s defense. Penalties switched possessions throughout the day shifting the momentum back and forth.

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The Midshipmen put the first points on the board when Connor McNerney’s penalty kick split the posts after successive penalties about ten minutes in. Each team drove deep into their opponent’s territory before getting stopped on a penalty or turnover.

A yellow card to Army gave Navy the man advantage but the West Point defense picked up the pace. The intensity forced a penalty giving Jon Kim at shot at goal. From 35 meters out, Kim’s kick knotted the score at 3-3.

Following an Army scrum deep in their territory, the clearance kick was charged down and the West Point scrumhalf punched the ball out of the endzone. The scrummie was sent off and Navy pushed over the subsequent scrum for the McNerney try. The conversion failed, but Navy led 8-3 with 13 minutes left in the half.

The man advantage didn’t last long as a Navy player was sent off for foul play and Army inched closer with a 40-meter Kim penalty in the 33rd minute. With the momentum, the Black Knights attacked with its forwards. After getting within ten meters of the line, the ball was shipped out to Jake Lachina who weaved his way to a try. Kim connected on the conversion giving Army the 13-8 halftime lead.

The second half started with the Army man advantage but Navy killed it off. Line breaks by Lachina and Marco Carrabotta were stifled by penalties. Those infractions set up Navy for its next score. A Midshipmen scrum inside the 22 led to an intense forwards ball. A pile of bodies at the goal line resulted in the referee’s hand being raised and Cody Mendelow being awarded the try. McNerney’s conversion gave Navy the 15-13 lead in the 50th minute.

Back and forth play ensued and a Navy penalty attempt kissed the left upright in the 60th minute. Kicks, counters, and more penalties littered the second half until an Army five-meter lineout set up the Black Knights with a scoring opportunity.

Navy’s defense withstood the initial barrage but a second chance after an offsides call gave Army another lineout from the five. The West Pointers mauled it and Ryan Moshak broke off for the dive at the line. Kim’s conversion was wide and Army led 18-15 with less than 15 minutes to go.

With little time remaining, Army played ball control with its offense keeping it tight with the forwards. Navy had other ideas and either forced a turnover or poached the ball outright. For all of Army’s effort, it could not maintain possession setting up the final sequence.

After a penalty where Navy decided not to go for points to tie the game, the Midshipmen had no interest in the draw and wanted to win the match on the field. With both clubs gassed and the game on the line, Army’s defense stepped up to the challenge and outlasted Navy to keep it from scoring on the last play.

“It’s hugely disappointing to lose,” Navy coach Gavin Hickie said. “The overriding fact is that I’m immensely proud of these Midshipmen. The whole season they have been phenomenal and today, we are going to hurt, we had it in our grasp at the very end and one decision hurt us. It doesn’t change the trajectory we are on. Just keep your head down and working hard.

“We found a way to figure out what we needed to do on the physical front,” Sherman said. “Navy was highly impressive physically on both the contact area and the scrums. We rose to that. I thought we struggled early and then rose to it. We stayed the course as a team and our on-field player leadership was tremendous.”

Describing the final play, Sherman praised his club. “That sequence sums up this team. It’s a never quit attitude, it's doing whatever it takes and giving everything you have for the team. Forwards are doing their part forcing them to go wide and the backs did their part. It was a one in 20 stop for that try and I was for sure they were going to get over. They willed themselves to not let it happen.”

Navy Learns Tough Life Lessons

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Navy fell to Life University in the first defeat of the season. Asked about the loss, Navy’s Coach, Gavin Hickie said “it’s always tough to lose and we were riding on a bit of a crest but the lessons we will learn from this game are invaluable. Life is without doubt the best team in the country, so we will take our lessons and come back stronger”.

Read the full article HERE

Navy Over Penn State 38 - 29

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This Saturday at State College, Navy topped the defending DIA East Conference Champions Penn State 38-29. The Midshipmen’s dominant scrum and tough defense were key factors in Navy’s most impressive win so far this season. The first 10 minutes of the game were dominated by Navy’s attack, the Midshipmen controlled the ball for multiple phases eventually leading to the first try of the game by flanker Spencer Craig ’19. Penn State answered back, scoring off of an intercepted pass by center Kiefer Kei-Boguinard ’18, resulting in a try and giving the Nittany Lions their first and only lead of the game 5-7. Navy drove the ball back into Penn State territory and the dominant Navy scrum resulted in a penalty try for the Midshipmen. Penn State answered back with a kick conversion off a penalty, 12-10 Navy. After missing a kick conversion the Navy offense hit their stride with a series of tries, the first by prop Bo Kendrick-Holmes ’20, then 8-man Connor McNerney ’18, who scored in the corner after the Midshipmen dominated a Penn State scrum on their own 5 meter line, to improve their lead to 24-10 going into halftime.
                Navy came out firing in the second half. Center Pat Moore ’19, won a high ball kicked by scrum-half Gardy Lebon ’18, penetrating deep into Penn State territory, and giving Navy’s aggressive forwards a chance to do what they do best. Flanker Michael Galvan ’19 scored a hard fought try between the posts improving Navy’s lead to 31-10. But, the Defending East Champions did not give up, Center Kiefer Kei-Boguinard had a powerful run driving the Midshipmen back to their own try line and resulting in a Penn State try in the corner. Following an intercepted pass by Penn State fly-half Michael Dabulas ’19, Boguinard then scored another try for Penn State shortening the Navy lead to 31-22.
                As time wound down in the second half, the undefeated Nittany Lions went on the offensive, aggressively contesting Navy’s rucks and threatening in Navy territory. But, after a missed kick for points by Penn State, Navy was able to gain great field position and Connor McNerney ’18, scored his second try of the game off a lineout from 10 meters out to improve Navy’s lead to 38-22. But, Penn State was not finished quite yet, the Penn State scrum-half was able to steal the ball from a Navy Scrum at Navy’s own five meter line scoring a try and putting the score at 29-38. Tough defense by Navy held Penn State at bay and time expired as McNerney kicked the ball out of play. Hooker Luis Hernandez ’18, earned Man of the Match for the Midshipmen with a series of crucial tackles and strong carries. Navy improves to 4-0 on the year and will be preparing for a tough game this upcoming weekend at the Prusmack Rugby Complex in Annapolis, against #2 ranked Life University.

Navy’s B-side played a hard fought game as well but were defeated 34-30. Center Erik Bleakley ’19 and fly-half Sam Valley ’18 put up strong performances for the Midshipmen. The B-side also prepares for Life this upcoming weekend.

Navy Overcomes NDC Threat

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Avenging last season’s loss, the U.S. Naval Academy beat Notre Dame College, 32-25, in Annapolis, Md. Utilizing strong forward play and exemplary efforts from eightman Connor McNerney and scrumhalf Gardy Lebon, the Midshipmen were able to limit possession to NDC’s dynamic backline. Situational and tactical kicking was invaluable to Navy and its defense stood stout in the second half to protect the lead.

Read the full article HERE

Navy Beats Dartmouth in Hanover

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Navy topped Dartmouth College this Saturday 19 to 7 in Hanover, New Hampshire to improve to 2-0 on the season. The two teams went back and forth for much of the first half with both sides kicking effectively and competing for favorable field position. Navy finally got a penetrating run off of a scrum by wing Denver Fuller ’20 that set up the first points of the game with a try by fly-half Scott Diaz ’18 to put the Midshipmen up 5-0.
 

After a series of penalties Dartmouth was able to get deep in Navy territory, but the Navy defense stood strong repelling the Dartmouth attack from 5 meters out multiple times and eventually exiting the dangerous situation unscathed. Navy’s attack then struck again with a try by Captain 8-man Connor McNerney ’18, making the score 12-0. In the 37th minute, Dartmouth kicked for points and put the score at 12-3 Navy before going into the half.
 

Navy came out firing after halftime with a hard-fought try by Sam Davis ’18 in the 43rd minute to increase the Navy lead to 19-3. Dartmouth kicked for points one more time making the score 19-6, but the Navy defense prevented the Dartmouth attack from scoring a try in the second half as well. Both teams struggled with penalties in the second half. The Navy attack threatened multiple times but was not able to capitalize on any scoring opportunities. Time ran out with the score remaining 19-6 Navy.

In the B-side game Navy dominated Dartmouth 95-12. The Midshipmen offense was firing on all cylinders with notable performances from Jermaine Oliver ’20, Brennan Amsberry ’20, and Sam Valley ’18. The Midshipmen defense also performed well, completely shutting down the Dartmouth attack for most of the game.

Navy will be working hard this week preparing for this week’s match up against Notre Dame College.  The Midshipmen are back at the Prussmack Rugby Complex in Annapolis this Saturday October 21st, for what is shaping up to be the biggest test of the season thus far. 

Navy Beats Air Force 46 - 7 to Reclaim Shea Cup

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The Naval Academy Midshipmen topped the Air Force Academy Falcons 46 to 7 Saturday at the Prussmack Rugby Complex in Annapolis in the annual Shea Cup. The Midshipmen struck first with Connor McNerney kicking for points to take a 3-0 lead. Navy’s Pat Moore scored the first try of the day to put the Midshipmen up 8-0. Air Force then answered back when their fly-half intercepted a Navy pass for a try. At the end of the first half the score was a tight 11 to 7 with both sides fighting hard in a physical match.

The Midshipmen came out firing in the second half led by Captain Connor McNerney who scored three tries. Freshman Phil Dalke and Junior Michael Galvan also contributed to the Navy offense scoring a try each. Navy’s defense dominated the second half, shutting down the Air Force attack and preventing them from adding any points. Navy improves to 1-0 on the season and is preparing to play Dartmouth next week in Hannover.