Middlebury claimed a hard-won victory 29-22 over SUNY Albany Saturday, coming back from a 17-12 deficit to win.
The Vermont school has been hit hard by injuries and struggled with keeping it together on a hot, 80-degree day.
They also struggled with scoring tries, but were fortunate to have scrumhalf Brian Sirkia there to kick goals. Sirkia notched four penalties in the first half to tries by Albany prop Tyler Coyle, wing Brian Cordero and No. 8 Antony Russo. Center Dan McNammara added a conversion for the 17-12 lead at halftime.
But Middlebury stormed out of the gates in the second half, pinning Albany in their end and forcing Albany into more penalties. Sirkia was good on four more to put his side ahead 24-17 with 15 minutes to go.
“After the game I asked Brian, ‘what did you say to them?’” said Middlebury Head Coach John Phillips. “Somebody said something because we were just more intense – we rucked better and tackled much better.”
With 15 minutes to go sub flanker Sam Murray inserted into the backline and ran a smart angle to score Middlebury’s only try of the match to make it 29-17.
Albany tried to come back, and scored a try through sub prop Justin Barends, but it wasn’t enough.
It was a game where the teams held dominance in different areas, but Middlebury emerged winners because they didn’t commit penalties, Albany did, and Sirkia’s kicking was almost perfect.
“Middlebury’s patience and discipline carried them throughout the game,” said Albany Head Coach John Durant.