For the seniors on the Williams rugby team (WRFC), Saturday was the last chance to win a coveted Amherst jersey. Four long years had passed since the last A-side victory, but this year the White Dawgs had assembled one of the greatest teams in recent history.
The Amherst side came out strong, as they rolled down the field and scored the first try. Unintimidated, the WRFC reached into their guts and took control of the game’s tempo. The pack and the line worked beautifully together, battling in the rucks and mauls to keep possession of the ball.
Jose Palma ’98 kept digging out the ball and giving it to Jack Haney ’99, who made crisp, tight passes. Amherst resorted to diving over in the rucks, committing a penalty which Paul Bethe ’00 converted for three points.
Rookie Joe Seavey ’01 ran straight up field, bouncing Amherst players off his chest, as the speedy Johan Kongsli ’98 and Joon Lee ’98 followed in close support. Crunching in towards the try line, Dan Anello ’98 broke hard over his opposite and slammed down a try. Amherst put together another ingenious offensive run to regain the lead.
With time running out, Brad Whiteman ’98 increased the intensity of his game. Feeling no pain after a head injury, Whiteman left the pitch for less than a minute, his unfadeable fire inspiring everyone present. Haney set up a brilliant penalty play that swung the ball out to Jacinto Pico ’98 who dove into the try zone. At half-time, the Dawgs led 13-12.
Refusing to slow down, Matt Libbey ’98 and John Pickard ’99 held their ground on defense and won some superb line outs that got the ball to Bethe who completely outmatched his opponent and ran twenty yards for yet another try.
Unfortunately, Amherst kept coming back and the Dawgs had a harder time responding. Never giving up, the White Dawgs played their hearts out and prayed for the comeback that never happened. Bruised after the toughest and closest Amherst game imaginable, the A-side looked to the future of the club, the Killer Bs’.
The B-side knew what had to get done. The hopes of the whole club rode on their shoulders as they came out harder than they had played all year. Amherst again refused to give the Dawgs an inch.
Jeff Macey ’99 and Steve Taylor ’01 tried hard to foil lineouts but Amherst executed their plays flawlessly. The Killer Bs erected a rampart on defense which Amherst could not penetrate.
Anytime Amherst tried to score, Matt Gutman ’00 and Dan Bubb ’01 responded physically, slamming them to the ground where they lay flattened for Joe Sensenbrenner ’00 to complete their punishment.
Amherst tried kicking, but Nick Waugh ’00 fielded everything. At one point, Ryan Kurlinski ’01 read the field, sending Ian Lewis ’01 weak side with Matt Toth ’00 and John Crowley-Delman ’01. Neither team could find any big holes in the defense. The two sides battled out the first half and deep into the second half.
As the game went on tied 0-0, Amherst came dangerously close to scoring. They won a lineout 10 yards from the try line. The B-side pack dug out the ball, getting it to Kurlinski, who gave the ball a giant, soaring punt deep into Amherst territory. The whole team was fired up as Gutman finally found room to run and cut upfield, passing the ball to Crowley-Delman who hit Waugh outside for a run up the sideline, falling only five yards from scoring.
Amherst won the lineout but committed a misdirected punt into the hands of Crowley-Delman. He cut from the wing towards the center of the field a string of Amherst tacklers. Lewis followed closely behind and received a pass as Crolwey-Delman fell to the ground.
Amherst slammed Lewis but as he flew through the air he lobbed a pass to Pico who bumbled it, the sun shining in his eyes, stumbling forward. Pico dove, grabbed the ball and slammed it onto the Amherst tryline.
Amidst screams of joy and gushing tears, Kurlinski stepped up with a calculated look and kicked the ball low and straight through the uprights. With only a minute left, the White Dawgs easily held on to win 7-0. Dancing and singing under the goal posts the entire WRFC felt ecstatic. The seniors had built a club for the future and the young Dawgs had played with confidence and pride.