Sometimes finishes can be so tight that it’s impossible not to cycle through a wide range of emotions as the clock ticks down its final minutes. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the D3 Village Lions had their chances to come out with a victory in a highly contested match against Old Maroon but in the end the team surrendered a try in the final minutes to lose by a soul crushing score of 26-29 and fall to 1-1 on this young season.
The final tally may read as a loss for the D3 Lions but the game was another positive step forward for a team that struggled mightily just one season ago. Led by “Disco” Steve Kovalcik on the pitch, who scored all 26 points for the losing side, and coach Francois Fay on the sidelines, making his 15s coaching debut, the Lions played with an intensity that was lacking in years past and looked like a club that could matchup with anyone else on the pitch in terms of both quickness and physical strength.
“When we played our system it was good, and we showed ourselves as the better team who could dominate possession,” said Kovalcik. “We were a little weak in contact in a lot of areas – the tackle, breakdown and scrum – which led them to be able to chip away at us to march down the field and put tries in when we should have been closing the door. But when we got the ball out wide we cut them up. Going into next game we’ve got to focus on hitting hard, dictating contact and being there first.”
Several times throughout the game it looked like the Lions could pull away with the win, especially with lock Eric Jones putting together several open-field runs and looking more like a former NCAA running back rather than offensive line man. But the failure to turn those solid gains into points on the board early in the game eventually came around to cost the team the win.
After the game, coach Francois expressed his thoughts on the game, “I was very happy with the back three. Every time we kicked we almost always got the ball back and put them under pressure. Tim played very well and I was quite happy with the back line. There was a few times we should have trusted [Disco] more and just gone for the points and we could have tackled a bit more but I think the team was trying as much as they could so I am very pleased.”
The ultimate demise for the team came from poor pack play. Three times the Lions lost scrums within 10 meters of the opposition’s try line and loosehead Kiyoshi Atkins’ yellow card at the 61st minute gave new life to an Old Maroon team that was in danger of falling apart. “When the boys stuck with the game plan we got exactly what we wanted, it just was when we tried to do too much on our own that we f—-d up,” said coach Francois.
The Lions will look to avenge their lost next week as the club takes on rival New York Rugby Club in the Village Cup on Randall’s Island. Kick off for the D3 squad will be at noon with D2 kicking off at 2PM.
Lineup: Kiyoshi Atkins (Mike McHugh, 72′); Eric Han (Hale Tomasson, 39′); James Sharpe; Adrian Clements (Olly Smith, 43′); Eric Jones; James Conwell (captain); Hamidou Ouedraogo (Andrew Amoah, 52′); JP Lindsey (Dan Perlin, 56′); Rich Gallina (John Tublin, 47′); Timur Bremer; Alex Ritter-Wiseman (LD Libra, 40′); Stephen Kovalcik; John Martin (Rob O’Callaghan, 54′); Caleb Balaban; Felipe Tejada
Tries: Kovalcik, 40′; Kovalcik, 44′; Kovalcik 76′
Penalties: Kovalcik, 33′; Kovalcik 42′; Kovalcik, 56′
Photo Courtesy of Brown Hound Photography.