Men's rugby ties Connecticut

by Sam Stein | 10/11/00 5:00am

In a tight match that was not decided until the last seconds, the Dartmouth men's rugby club tied the University of Connecticut 21-21 to remain unbeaten in league play.

The contest rematched Dartmouth against one of the two teams that had defeated it a year ago.

"UConn gave us a bunch of chances to win the game, and we didn't capitalize," team member Matt Sullivan '02 said. "To give them credit, they used every single mistake we made to their advantage, while we squandered away many opportunities."

The game began with Dartmouth taking it straight to Connecticut, keeping play within their half of the field for the first five minutes. Some costly mistakes kept Dartmouth from scoring, and an intercepted pass returned for 80 meters suddenly put the Big Green down 7-0.

After the first score, Dartmouth regained its composure and evened the score as Captain Jeff Kinkaid '01 touched down a kick by flanker/eight-man Doug Heitner '02. Sullivan followed with the conversion.

The rest of the half was played to a stand-still as Dartmouth could only muster up a failed penalty kick at the very end of the half.

Dartmouth began the second half flat, perhaps due to the losses of senior eight-man Nate Stone to a broken nose and senior winger James Macintosh to a separated shoulder.

It was a series of missed tackles and poor communication, however, that allowed Connecticut's exceptionally strong pack to drive the ball down near Dartmouth's goal line, and eventually score off a driving maul out of a lineout.

Facing another disastrous loss to this agonizing rival, Dartmouth increased its sense of urgency, again keeping play within Connecticut's side of the field. Connecticut, however, was able to stuff the Big Green on a series of goal-line stands.

After battling near their goal line for some time, Heitner took the ball out of the back of a five-meter scrum and scored it down for the equalizer.

Rejuvenated, Dartmouth began to dominate all phases of the game, and once again Heitner found the try zone off an exceptional chip kick. Sullivan made the difficult conversion, and with 10 minutes to play, Dartmouth held a seven-point advantage.

With a chance to put the game out of reach, Sullivan's penalty kick missed by less than a foot, and on the ensuing 22-meter drop out, Dartmouth lost the ball in the tackle and was penalized for not releasing.

On the kick ahead near mid-field, a skirmish developed that resulted in flanker Dave Neuendorf '03 being penalized for fighting, a very shaky call given the nature of the game. For the remaining three minutes, Dartmouth had to play with one man down, and Connecticut capitalized and tied the game with a minute to go.

After regaining possession with 30 seconds left in the game, Connecticut committed another penalty, giving Sullivan one more chance to win the game with a kick just on the edge of his range. Again, luck was not with Dartmouth as Sullivan's kick fell short and time expired.

"What really gets me about the game is that everyone who played in the game feels we should have won," Kincaid said. "We dominated the game in every facet except the scoreboard.

"And when we did take back the lead with very little time remaining, we let up and let them score to equalize it. We played as if the game were already over."

With the tie, Dartmouth fell to second place in the league, with Army holding the number one spot. Dartmouth plays again next Saturday at Norwich Military Academy in a heated inter-league rivalry.

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