MIT’s playoff run ends with loss to Danbury as the Shenantaha fullback curse lives on

Teams:MIT vs Danbury Mad Hatters
Played:05/16/2015 @ Malta, NY
Score: 12 - 33 MIT loss

On May 16, 2015, MIT traveled to Shenantaha Park in Malta, NY to take on the Danbury Mad Hatters in the 3rd round of the playoffs. Having never advanced this far in the playoffs (and having never dealt with such a confusing waiver process before) MIT were eager to show that they were not just happy to be there and that they could actually compete with the best DIII teams in the country.

MIT kicked off to Danbury to start the game. Danbury fielded the kick and gained possession. They would then hold onto possession for the majority of the first half. Danbury fielded a larger side and their big boys found running space on the fringes of the rucks. Their runners were sucking in several MIT defenders which left gaps outside. After working the ball into MIT’s 22, their inside center found one of these gaps and touched down under the posts to take the early 7-0 lead.

The Danbury forwards were dominant in the set pieces and MIT were unable to put together multiple phases. After an MIT offside penalty in their own 22, one of the Danbury forwards touched down to make the score 12-0. Minutes later another forward scored after picking up an MIT knock-on at the goal line to make it 17-0. The Danbury forwards scored again to make it 26-0. With just minutes remaining before the half, MIT finally got hold of the ball and put Danbury on the back foot. Desperately needing a score before the half, MIT worked the ball to Jake M. in the corner; he extended his arm over the try-line, but knocked the ball on in the process. MIT threatened again before the half but Danbury shut them down and the ref blew the whistle for the half.

The second half started and Danbury scored not long after to make it 33-0. To add injury to insult, the MIT players started dropping like flies. A head injury to KatieNMarc left him forgetting whether he was Katie or Marc and brought on Rory at scrumhalf. Then Chris W. left the game with non-candy-consumption related cramps. Minutes later John G. also left the game as slug juice oozed out of his left eyebrow.

The last time MIT traveled to Shenantaha Park, they lost their fullback to a shoulder injury and had a lengthy game delay while medical staff tended to his injury. Unfortunately the curse of the MIT fullback at Shenantaha Park lives on, as fullback Jake M. went down with a lower leg injury. The game was stopped at this point with an eerily similar delay as the EMT staff tended to his injury. A team decision was made to only dress numbers 1-14 the next time the team travels to Shenantaha Park.

For whatever reason, MIT finally woke up after the extended injury break. The game restarted with an MIT penalty inside Danbury’s 22. MIT tapped and ran. The ball eventually found its way to James L. who spun a long pass to Mick who spun another wide pass to John L. who scored in Xavier’s corner (RIP Xavier’s shoulder). Minutes later, off a lineout in Danbury’s territory, Cody picked up the ball off a Danbury knock-on and ran in for the try to make the score 33-12. MIT had momentum and appeared to be mounting a comeback. They were aided by multiple Danbury penalties around the ruck. Nick A. subbed on in the front row and was able to help spark MIT’s scrum. Sub Chris L. had a huge tackle / steal of the ball to give MIT back possession. But not long after the karma police enforced their laws and Chris L. had a ball stolen back by Danbury. Although they were finally controlling possession and putting phases together, MIT were unable to cross the goal line again.

Despite the loss, Coach Sean praised the team’s last ditch effort. Unfortunately MIT were doomed by the slow start. MIT now heads into the off-season knowing which areas of the game they need to focus on. Thanks to Coach Sean and all the fans and alumni who supported us throughout the season.

This match saw the last game from Matt A. AKA Natal. Natal started in the centers but was moved to flanker after opposing teams literally complained to the referee about his crushing tackles. The complaints stopped when he moved to the forwards, but the hard hits did not. Best of luck in the future Natal!

MIT will be playing touch rugby on the Briggs, Roberts and Barry fields sporadically throughout the summer. Contact the team through email or Facebook for details.