Men's ruggers roll past Northeastern, 38-15

by Jacob E. Osterhout | 10/9/01 5:00am

BOSTON -- Not even a field strewn with shards of glass, fragile wooden goal posts erected two minutes before the game or the loss of starting junior winger Gabe Doleac to suspension could stop the Dartmouth men's rugby team from rolling over in-conference rival Northeastern, 38-15, this weekend.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game," co-captain Michael Linchitz '02 said. "But this is a team that excels under pressure. When our backs are against the wall, we play at our best."

Dartmouth came into the game reeling from a loss to Connecticut last weekend that was marred by controversial officiating. In that game, Doleac was handed a one-game suspension as a result of a heated argument with the referee.

Even without their key winger, the ruggers needed to beat Northeastern if they wanted to maintain a winning record and advance to the postseason.

But things did not look positive in the first five minutes of the game. Northeastern galloped down the field on penalty kicks and punched in a try to go up 5-0.

"Penalties are our Achilles' heal," senior prop Doug Heitner said. "Very few teams can score on our defense legitimately. But we don't adjust well sometimes. We shoot ourselves in the feet."

Down by five, Dartmouth turned to the leadership of head coach and former player Alex Magleby '00. Under his guidance, the Big Green stormed back down the field. After a penalty on Northeastern, the ball was swung out wide into the hands of Dan Brown '03. The ball squirted out of his hands but Linchitz was right there to pick it up and saunter into the try zone. Captain Matthew Sullivan '02 converted the kick and Dartmouth took a 7-5 lead " one that it would never relinquish.

For the rest of the first half Dartmouth dominated ball possession. "Our rucking was awesome," second rower David Hodapp '04 said. "We were better conditioned than they were and I think we just wanted it more."

Despite dominant ball possession, the Big Green managed no further first half trys, as the score remained 7-5 at the break.

"While we didn't score that many points in the first half, we did dominate play and it re-enthused us going into the second forty minutes," senior center Kevin Reavey said.

The start of the second half reflected Reavey's upbeat attitude. The Big Green confidently moved the ball down to within five meters of the Northeastern goal line, allowing Michael Linchitz '02 to convert Dartmouth's second try of the day. The consistent Sullivan split the uprights again and Dartmouth held a 14-5 lead.

Ten minutes later, Dartmouth received the ball off a Northeastern penalty and put the ball in Hodapp's sure hands. He set a ruck and, on a sneaky change of direction, Dartmouth threw the ball out to Heitner, who skipped two players and connected with winger Nate Weinstein '03 for another try. Sullivan's kick gave the Big Green a commanding 21-5 advantage.

But, as fraternities and all-you-can-eat food establishments have proven in the past, nothing is sacred in the North Woods. With 10 minutes remaining, Dartmouth incurred multiple offsides infractions that allowed Northeastern to cut into the lead.

Penalty after penalty pushed Dartmouth back until, with no more room to give, the Big Green ruggers saw their lead deflate to 21-15.

Leading by only six, the Big Green knew the game was far from won. "We met down in the try zone after that third try," winger Rob Huntington '02 said, "and we made a promise to each other that we were not going to lose this game."

On the ensuing kick Dartmouth regained possession when prop David Nuendorfer '03 poached the ball. The ball floated through the back line's hands until Michael Martinez '04 took matters into his own hands and broke two tackles as he danced into the zone to score the game-sealing try.

"That was huge," Christopher Lintz '02 said. "The momentum was in their favor and that try turned the tables. It was a real back breaker."

Unable to recover, Northeastern succumbed and the game ended in favor of the Dartmouth ruggers. "We knew we needed to win," said Jeremy Lepage '02.

"We told ourselves what we had to do and we did it. I am proud of all the guys on the team."

Dartmouth puts its fresh winning streak on the line back home at Sachem Field next weekend as the team plays rival Army in what should be a hard-hitting, no-love-lost kind of game.

With a win, Dartmouth would regain sole possession of first place in the White League.

Men's Water Polo: The Big Green improved to 8-0 with a perfect 4-0 performance at the New England Division Regionals this weekend.

Held at the Karl Michael Pool at Dartmouth, the tournament featured teams from Amherst, Williams, Tufts, Vermont, Middlebury and the host Big Green.

Dartmouth began play with a pair of easy victories against Tufts and Amherst Saturday afternoon before taking on fierce rival Williams that night.

Already with a victory against the Ephs earlier this fall, the Big Green made it two with an 11-6 triumph. Playing in front of a sizeable home crowd, the team was led by Ryan Goldhahn '04, who scored several times from the hole.

"I thought we had great performances all around," captain Lars Lynch '02 said. "As a team, usually we have an advantage in a larger pool, because our strength is our swimming ability.

"But even though we have a small pool, which would normally work to Williams' favor, we pulled it off."

The Big Green completed weekend play with a rout of Vermont -- a recently established water polo program -- on Sunday.

Next up for Dartmouth is a scrimmage at Harvard Thursday night in preparation for the New England Championships Oct. 27-28. That event, a qualifier for nationals, will take place at Williams.

-- David Sherzer

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