ABC’s Wide World of Sports used to declare that sports was all about the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” The St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s 7s club rugby team experienced both of those emotions in 2017.
It was a thrill for the Seahawks to qualify for the National Small College Rugby Organization at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship June 3 and 4 at Talen Energy Field in Chester, Pa.
The agony followed when St. Mary’s fell 24-19 in overtime of the championship game to Christendom (Va.) College.
“I’ve been better,” St. Mary’s head coach Larry Donmoyer, who has been with the program since its inception in 1986 and its head coach the past 20 years, said in a telephone interview following the bitter loss. “There’s a saying that keeps floating through my head that goes, ‘It was our game to lose and we did it.’ We had it, we [should have] won it, but we shot ourselves in the foot. It’ll bug me [for a while], but it’s one of those things that’s done now. It’s time to start focusing on next year’s run.”
“Yeah, more or less we are [tearing ourselves up] because we were so close to winning it,” said St. Mary’s senior center Ivan Messi.
The Seahawks held a 12-0 halftime lead on trys by Matt Carr and Sam Baker, but ran into penalty problems and found themselves down two men for almost three minutes and the Crusaders promptly rallied to tie the game 19 at the end of regulation and won the title a few minutes into overtime.
“I couldn’t believe we had gone into overtime,” Messi said. “We couldn’t believe they had come back.”
The loss was the first of the tournament for the Seahawks, who won their first four games of the tournament, including all three to win Pool A. Two of their wins came after St. Mary’s had big second halves to break ties at halftime.
The thrill came when the Seahawks earned their berth in the title game when they scored 14 unanswered points in the semifinals to erase a 12-0 halftime deficit to defeat Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
“We just played our game,” Messi said, “and didn’t really care about what the other teams did, and it worked pretty well.”
St. Mary’s fell in last year’s final to New Mexico Highlands.
The Seahawks qualified for the national championship when it won a qualifier in early April at Franklin and Marshall (Pa.).
Christendom qualified for the eight-team tournament by virtue of its qualifier win, which was held at St. Mary’s College in late March. The Seahawks finished fourth at that tournament.
Messi, Sam Baker and Yusuf Khadar led the Seahawks with four tries apiece. Rick Djeuhon and Will Hankins each had two and Carr, Andrew Marinich and Andrew McCollum each scored once. Marinich converted 6 of 12 PATs.
The Seahawks play a 15s schedule — the 15 refers to the numbers of players from each team on the field — in the fall, and a 7s schedule in the spring. The 15s play a conference schedule, while the 7s only compete in tournaments.
“Hopefully they see that,” Messi said of the nation seeing St. Mary’s College as a rugby power.