SARANAC LAKE - The Adirondack under-19 boys and girls rugby team earned a sweep Sunday with home victories over Rensselaer at the Spencer Boatworks field.
The girls took the pitch first in the doubleheader and had a much easier time claiming their victory. Adirondack rolled out to a 30-0 edge before visiting Rensselaer got on the board before halftime, and after intermission the hosts tacked on two more trys and a conversion kick to triumph 42-10.
The boys match went down to the wire. In that contest, Adirondack appeared to be cruising when it built up 19-5 lead early in the second half. But Rensselaer rallied with three unanswered trys to grab a 20-19 edge, only to have Adirondack score the last points of the game for a 24-20 victory.
Saranac Lake senior TJ Monroe attempts to fend off a Rensselaer defender during the under-19 boys rugby game Sunday at the Spencer Boatworks field in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Sophomore Katelyn Hewitt paced the Adirondack girls with three trys, and Juliana Matos scored twice. Sheila Decker, Emily Barney and Erin Ryan added single trys for the winners, who improved to 3-0 to remain unbeaten. Kennedy Snyder notched one conversion kick to round out the scoring for the winners.
Elizabeth Briggs scored a first-half try for Rensselaer and teammate Victoria Cahill tacked on five points on a second-half try.
"We lost a lot of players from last year, and we had three sitting out with injuries, so I was pretty surprised that we did so well," Adirondack girls head coach Tammy Morgan said. "We had a lot of new freshmen and sophomores in there, and they did great. We might have some girls who are new to rugby, but they are all athletic."
"For being a team without a lot of experience, Adirondack looked pretty experienced," Rensselaer girls coach Nikki Freeman said. "They have a strong group who did a great job running down the field. We have a few girls who have been on our team for about four years, and we have a lot of new players too. Every game is a learning experience for us. I thought we played pretty well, especially as the game went on."
Simply put, the boys match was a knock-down, drag-out physical battle for survival, and Adirondack came out on top when scrum half Kevin Morgan beat a Rensselaer playing to a loose ball in the try zone for a put down. Adirondack trailed 20-19 at the time after blowing a 19-5 lead.
Each team scored four trys in the contest, with Morgan's pair of successful two-point conversion kicks winding up as the difference maker.
"You know the best thing about this match was neither team quit," Adirondack coach Sean Morgan said just after the official blew the final whistle. "This was about as close as it gets."
"Each team scored four times, they made conversions, and that was the difference," Rensselaer coach Rob Sliwinski said. "That was a hard-played match."
Adirondack got on the board first when Nick Sweeney bulled his way into the end zone for a try. The visitors then tied the score at 5-5 with a try, and Adirondack regained the lead on Kevin Morgan's first of three trys. Morgan made good on the conversion kick to send Adirondack into halftime with a 12-5 edge. Morgan then scored early in the second half on a play set up after a long run by Kyle McGrain, and added another conversion kick to push the Adirondack edge to 19-5.
Rensselaer then came storming back. Powered by fast, determined backs, the visitors scored three trys to take a one-point lead, but ultimately, their downfall was due to an inability to make their kicks. The last points of the game came when Morgan was able to land on a loose ball in a scramble of players to earn the winning try for Adirondack.
The boys improved to 1-1-2 and the win was also important because it kept their chance alive to qualify for the state playoffs.
Rensselaer fell to 1-1 with the setback, and next plays Saratoga on Friday. Rensselaer's girls will host Bennington, Vt. in their next matchup.
The Adirondack boys and girls teams play this weekend on the road against Kingston.