When the referee’s whistle blew for full time after two tense moments of stoppage time, the sun immediately shone on Mohawk Sports Park and the Mohawk Mountaineers’ rugby team.
On an overcast afternoon with winds of 40 km an hour and much stronger gusts, the Mountaineers managed to hold on to defeat their heated Ontario Colleges Athletic Association rivals from Humber College, 12-7. The victory, on the final day of the regular season, gave Mohawk first place, one point ahead of the Hawks. Both teams finished 6-1.They both scored close wins against the other, but the Mountaineers collected one more bonus point for their offensive prowess over the course of the season and in the end, that was the difference.
The Mountaineers had the wind advantage in the first half and, not even 10 minutes into the contest, broke on top 7-0 as Alex Houston faked out the Humber defenders and touched down for the opening try, converted by Chris VanSickle. But to their credit, Humber equalized by the quarter hour on Daniele Patrizi’s try and Rob Lefler’s conversion. The score stayed 7-7 until half time and it couldn’t have been what Mohawk wanted, having to switch sides and face the wind for the next 40 minutes-plus.
However, they battled even more in the second half and when, for a couple of minutes, the wind died down just a bit, Riley Cronsberry went on a long solo run down the left flank to score what would prove to be the winning points. But the Mountaineers’ work was far from done.
The wind increased again and Humber ventured deep into Mohawk territory on several occasions. But the home side held their opponents out and were justifiably jubilant when the final whistle sounded.
Mohawk head coach Alex Paris felt his team made lots of silly mistakes in the first half. But they shut the Hawks out in the second half. “It was always going to be who wanted it the most,” said Paris. “The way we stopped them in the second half spoke volumes for the guys on the field.”
The Mountaineers, by finishing first, will play host to the Seneca Sting in semi final play on Saturday (Nov. 7) hoping to book themselves a spot in the OCAA gold medal game at Fletcher’s Fields in Markham on Nov. 14.