Rugby loses heartbreaker to Army; Men's Polo rolls

by Jacob E. Osterhout | 10/16/01 5:00am

The Dartmouth men's rugby team knew that Saturday's game against Army at Sachem Field was going to be a tough one.

"You can always count on Army to give it their all," flanker David Neundorfer '03 said. "They are in great shape. They are big and they are intense. These are the guys defending our country. They better be good."

The stakes were large, too, with the winner gaining sole possession of first place in the conference.

"We had a tough loss to UConn in the beginning of the season and this was our chance to avenge that defeat," said Jeremy Lepage '02.

But, as hard as the Big Green played and as loud as the crowd cheered, the home team could not overcome a 14-point second-half deficit. When the final whistle sounded the score stood at 33-29 in favor of the cadets.

The game started well for Dartmouth. For the first 20 minutes, the Big Green played textbook rugby, dominating the rucks and maintaining ball control. They consistently won lineouts and showed little of their former failure in the scrum.

"We were a well-oiled machine for the first quarter of that game," co-captain Michael Linchitz '02 said. "There is not a team in the country that can stop us if we consistently play like that. We were energized, yet disciplined."

After maintaining possession for 15 minutes, Dartmouth kicked the ball out of a scrum deep in Army territory and ran it through the back line's hands until Rob Huntington burst down the line to score the first try. Matthew Sullivan '02 continued his kicking streak by scoring the conversion and Dartmouth was out to a 7-0 lead.

But, in true Army fashion, the Black Knights marched right back down the field. Using their size and hard-nosed running, they pounded Dartmouth's forward line. Then switching direction, the Army fly-half broke three arm tackles to score.

"It was a big test to see how we would bounce back after Army's first try," said flanker Doug Heitner '02. "Sometimes we get down on each other, but this time we picked it up and came right back at them."

With 10 minutes left in the first half, Heitner took matters into his own hands. Predicting a pass from Army's inside center to its outside center, Heitner stepped in between the two Black Knights, picked off the ball and sprinted down field to put Dartmouth up 14-7 going into halftime.

"I was real proud of our boys at halftime," Coach Alexander Magleby '00 said. "They dominated one of the best teams in the country for 40 minutes. It was impressive to watch and I was glad to be on the sidelines."

The second half would be a test of conditioning for Dartmouth.

"These guys train every day. They have to run everywhere they go and are in impeccable shape," second rower James Colligan '02 said. "We do other things besides running. Our training regiment is not quite as strict."

Army came out strong in the second half. Right off the opening kick, they pounded the ball towards the try zone. Once within Dartmouth's 22-meter line, Army couldn't be stopped. The visitors evened the score at 14-14 five minutes into the second half.

"It was nothing fancy," hooker James Joun '03 said. "They didn't really use their backs or run any plays. They just came in hard and low and started moving us back consistently."

The trend continued in Army's favor. Despite a valiant goal-line stand and impeccable tackling, Army scored another try putting them ahead for the first time in the game at 21-14. "In every game we have these lapses," second rower David Hodapp '04 said. "We just don't sustain the intensity for 80 minutes. We get down on ourselves and lose concentration. Then we spend the rest of the game trying to catch up."

Learning from their own mistakes, Army continued to exert themselves on defense until their outside center picked off a pass from Kevin Reavey '02 and sprinted into the try zone. Dartmouth, once in the lead, was now down by 14.

Down " but not out.

With 20 minutes left, the Big Green regained its old composure and started to dominate possession once again. Sullivan kicked to cut Army's lead to 28-17. Two minutes later, the ball squirted out through the hands of the Dartmouth back line until Sullivan touched down another try. The score board now stood at 28-22, Army.

The moment couldn't last, as Army put in one more try off a scrum in what turned out to be the back breaker.

"We had so many opportunities to win the game," Michael Martinez '04 said. "But their size and consistency wore us down."

Dartmouth never gave up. With two minutes left, the forwards took over and Ryan Mannix '02, Chris Lentz '02 and David Hodapp '04 worked together to put both Colligan and the ball in the try zone and cut Army's lead to 33-29. Dartmouth quickly grabbed the ball and scurried down the field again but to no avail as the referee blew his whistle and ended the game.

"It was a great game," Travis Escobedo '03 said. "I wish the outcome was different, but we played hard. We got a glimpse of what we could really do. We supported each other and played like teammates and brothers."

Dartmouth looks to recover from this loss next week at Sachem when they face Norwich.

Men's Water Polo: The Big Green went 1-1 over the past week against teams on opposite ends of the competitive spectrum.

Last Thursday night in Cambridge, Dartmouth lost an 8-5 decision to Harvard, a varsity squad. The game was close even though the Big Green was missing four regulars from its lineup.

Dartmouth received strong performances from a couple of sophomores.

"Matt Derr and Ross Markwort put forth a tremendous effort, holding the team together offensively and defensively," captain Lars Lynch '02 said.

The Big Green also received strong performances from newcomers Paul Schned, Greg Holtz '05 and Peter Jenks '05.

On Saturday, Dartmouth easily dispatched of Exeter High School, 17-6.

The Big Green, now 9-1, will train for a couple of weeks for the New England Championships, which will take place Oct. 27-8 at Williams.

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