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After finish fourth two years ago, and second last year, Mt. Saint Mary’s captured its first NSCRO National Championship. The Mountaineers scored a try in the 80th minute to seal a 26-19 victory over The Claremont Colleges.
The Maryland school looked to be heading to another consolation game on Saturday. Southern Indiana scored a try with less than 10 minutes to play to take a 24-22 lead over the Mountaineers. A penalty, however, from Tito Miranda in the 79th minute propelled the Mountaineers into the final.
Gator Adams opened the scoring on Sunday for The Claremont Colleges. The outside center beat his opposite number from 20 meters out and after five minutes the California school led 7-0.
“They are just a tremendous team. They are physical, well coached and amazing,” Mount St. Mary’s coach Jay Myles said of Claremont. “On our side we started out the day hoping to implement our pattern and systems offensively and they really took us out of our rhythm initially.”
Mount responded with a penalty several minutes later. On the ensuing restart, the Mount followed it up with a try. The Mountaineers put the ball through the hands and found space out wide. Fullback, Luis Turbyfield, ran in support and was tackled but not held. The speedster got up and raced through for the try. They would a penalty and take an 13-7 lead into the break.
“There was core group of players that really stood out in creating opportunities,” Myles said of his team. “Once they started to create opportunities on the inside we felt it was a great opportunity to exploit on the outside.”
Myles indicated that number 8 Travis Bewley created matchup problems for the opposition, often forcing two or three players to bring him down. Additionally, Connor Myles, a senior and the son of the coach spearheaded the game from his flyhalf position.
Claremont dug itself into a bigger hole early in the second half. A pass slipped through the hands and eventually the Mount forced a turnover at a breakdown deep inside Claremont territory. MSM spun it left and Bewley powered through for an 18-7 lead.
The western school battled back, however, to cut the lead to 18-14. After some hard charging runs from the CC forwards, Brian Rauzi slipped off a tackler and sprinted in for a try under the posts.
After a penalty to the Mount, Gator Adams notched his second of the day. It took a TMO replay, but Claremont was within two points with 65 minutes played. The conversion sailed right and it remained 21-19.
St. Mary’s withstood some pressure late and managed to seal the victory with a late try. Winger Jack Spera dove over in the corner off a five-meter scrum. The final whistle blew a minute later and Mount St. Mary’s captured its first ever NSCRO title.
The victory is the culmination of years of preparation and hard work. For coach Myles it was a dream come true. Not only did the school finally get over the hump, but it was a perfect sendoff for his son.
“It is something incredibly special to share a national title with your son. It is a feeling that I did not think I would ever experience,” Myles said.
For a number of seniors this game had been the one that got away. Brady Parson at openside flanker and captain and scrumhalf Sean Hartig were some of the big drivers of the team the last several seasons. After getting close the last couple of years, it is a testament to the depth and support for the game at the Mount, that they were finally able to get the title.
“We have had a goal and the boys continued to work hard at that goal. This feeling is just one of incredible confidence to go into the next level,” Myles indicated.
Like Notre Dame College and New England College before them, the Mountaineers will be making the jump to division 1AA next season. With tremendous school support, a number of players returning and a strong incoming class, Mount will look take the challenges of division one head on.
“One of the vice presidents of the university was able to travel with us. The University supports us with rugby scholarships. It is just amazing the level of support we receive from the university,” Myles said of the resources the administration provides.