Rugby triumphs over UMaine Farmington

On Saturday, Sept 21, the Colby Men’s Rugby Club took on UMaine Farmington at home. Traditionally, the UMF–Colby rivalry has been potent, both representing the two best clubs in Maine rugby. In years past, however, Colby hasn’t come up on top. Two years ago, the game ended in heartbreak as UMF scrambled together two last second tries to take the lead out from under the feet of an experienced Colby team. Last year, the Colby team was plagued by injury, and UMF took advantage with a dominant win at their home field on a frigid day. This year, the story was different.

 The game was a battle from the outset. Colby’s team had trouble forcing turnovers as UMF’s larger presence allowed them to run short plays for small gains. Colby held them back well, but about 20 minutes into the game, UMF had their first breakthrough with a try. Colby’s quickness struggled to show through against UMF’s disciplined defense – they made the tackles they had to make time and time again. After another UMF try, the score was 10-0 and Colby wanted to try to make it a one-possession game before the half came to a close. It was time to get creative, as the traditional swing strategy was proving unfruitful. Leave it to the veterans of the team to get creative. The two center backs showed their chops with a beautiful switch. Mack Fisher `21 at the inside center position made a quick break towards the outside while Aidan Cyr ’20 cut right under him. As Fisher ’21 masterfully shielded the ball from UMF view, the defenders were befuddled. Where on Earth did that ball go? Aidan Cyr ’20 had received a textbook switch pop from Mack Fisher ’21, and he was going to work on their defense with the finesse for which he’s known. After breaking one pair of angles, Cyr ’20 redirected towards the outside of the field where he used his speed to burn two UMF defenders out wide. He trotted in for an easy try, which Sophomore Steven Ditzler ’22 converted without a second thought.

 The second half took off in the wrong direction, with a UMF try and conversion. With the score now 17-7, Colby recognized a two-score deficit and aimed to bring it back. Unfortunately, UMF snuck another one in. From the crowd, it was easy to see captain JC Magnotto `20 trying to rally the troops, reminding them of the work they’ve put in and the time they had left to execute. Leave it to none other than el Capitán to put one under the sticks for a try to close the gap. Ditzler `22 chipped another one in to make it 22-14.

 While the team was rallied, UMF saw that this game was far from over, and they managed to get a final try with about 12 minutes left in the second half. After a failed conversion, the Men’s Ruggers were staring a 27-14 deficit right in its face. They recognized that the only way to escape this pinch was to dig deep into their souls and channel what Coach Leo calls “the mongrel.” Channel the mongrel they did. Ben Woollcott `21 squeezed in a try on the outside of the try zone to bring the game to 27-19. Ditzler `22 was faced with a seemingly impossible kick. The angle was terrible, and there was no reason he should have made it look as easy as he made it look. Ditzler ‘22 said about the kick: “The adrenaline was pumping as I walked up to take the kick as I knew every point counted in a close game like this. It was a tough angle on the far-right side of the field, but I lined it up, made solid contact, and thankfully it went through the posts. God save the queen.”

 Yet, the game was far from over. After a series of substitutions, Colby’s lineup was filled with fresh legs for the final push. Unfortunately, with two minutes to go, the game looked lost. The ball was on Colby’s try line and in the hands of the UMF forwards. With nary a minute to go, Colby managed to turn the ball over and began the final push. How could they do it? It started with a break from Bedingfield ’22. With a 50-yard run on legs that few would say move quickly, Bedingfield made it to within ten yards of the try line in a glorious sprint. He looked to be gone, but the last defender caught him. As Mack Fisher `21 would say in hindsight, “I knew he wasn’t going to get it. He’s slow.” However, his freshman year roommate was by his side – Sam Donahue ’22 in to save the day. After a falling pop pass from Bedingfield `22, Donahue `22 took it into contact. After a hardly discernable shuffle of feet, a white scrum cap broke through and high-stepped into the try zone: Captain JC Magnotto `20. The team went berserk. However, it wasn’t over. Ditzler `22 had been taken out, and there was no one left to take the kick. So, the Mules turned to Aidan Cyr `20. 

“Coach told me to take the kick because Steven was out. After all the work we had done to get back in the game, I knew I wasn’t going to let my teammates down on a kick from basically the center of the pitch. I tried to take my time and put my leg through it. The second I kicked it I looked up and knew we had the game in the bag.” Before he knew it, Colby had won against UMF, 28-27. 

 The rugby team will battle against Bates at 1 pm on September 28th. Be sure to come out and show your support for the Colby Mules.