Disappointing Loss to the Stampede
Philadelphia Whitemarsh saw their season come to and end earlier than they would have liked this past weekend, losing to the Saratoga Stampede 28-19 in the USA Round of 16 in Virginia Beach on Saturday before defeating the Chicago Riot in a seeding match 32-17 on Sunday. Storms on Saturday morning delayed the match an hour, making for a slippery ball in windy conditions. While Saratoga was able to adjust, PW hurt themselves with penalties and turnovers.
Saratoga took full advantage of PW penalties right from the start, converting penalty kicks from 38 meters and 25 meters in the first 10 minutes, while Philly Whitemarsh struggled to get any prolonged possesion. The Stampede pack's discipline, size and awareness continued to put PW on their heels early, PW was able to fend off multiple chances deep in their own end on multiple goal line stands, eventually holding the ball up in the try zone before kicking to safety. Finally PW put together a few phases in the midfield and Bob Haller was able to make a break inside the Stampede 22. Two phases later and Luis Tulio found paydirt. Jim Rosato's conversion breifly put PW in the lead 7-6 in the 27th minute. It looked like PW had found their groove but again penalties and knock ons prevented PW from putting points on the board despite their chances. Saratoga made one last push before half, running it out of their own end. Eventually Saratoga was able to score just before half off a 5 meter scrum. The conversion put Saratoga ahead 13-7 at the break.
The second half began fairly even with each side advancing the ball but committing crucial turnovers when they got within striking distance. After Saratoga seemingly mauled down half the field, PW's goalline defense again held strong eventually allowing them to run it out of their own zone and deep into Saratoga's. A clear by Saratoga was turned over by PW on their own 22 and Saratoga took quick advantage, scoring a minute later, 20 mintues into the half. The conversion pushed the lead to 20-7. Down, but not out, Philly Whitemarsh started to claw back into the game. With 15 minutes remaining, PW advanced the ball down to the Stampede 5 meter line before Kurht Engle found a seem outside and scored on the sideline. Rosato's conversion attempt had the right line but fell a meter short. Three minutes later though, Saratoga pushed their lead to 11, again converting on a PW penalty. PW made things intersting, winning the ball on the ensuing kick and quickly getting the ball downfield where Rosato was able to touch down and make a quick conversion with 6 mintues remaining. The score was 23-19. Unfortunatly for PW, that would be as close as they would get. Saratoga recovered their kickoff and immediatly scored int the corner with a minute remaining. That is how the game ended with the final score 28-19.
Saratoga went on to defeat HIlton Head on Sunday 30-14 to advance to the National Semifinals.
We first met the Stampede as they arrived right on time at Surfside in July of 2012. They happened to be the very last team to enter the event and arrived just in time for kickoff after a long very early drive from upstate NY. The boys were keen to play rugby and very talented.
Philadelphia Whitemarsh has qualified for the USA Rugby national round of 16 in Virginia Beach on May 18th where they will represent MARFU as the #1 seed and will face the New England RFU champions, Saratoga Stampede (NY). The Chicago Riot and Hilton Head Island will also be in Virginia Beach. If PW is fortunate to defeat the Stampede on Saturday, they will face the winner of the Riot and Hilton Head on Sunday.
North Bay, who Philly Whitemarsh defeated for the MARFU championship, also advances as the #2 seed from MARFU and awaits the Empire Rugby Union champion.