Navy Defeats Air Force In Shea Cup
Navy Defeats Air Force In Shea Cup
On October 5th, the Navy 1st XV traveled to Colorado Springs to defend the Shea Cup against the Air Force Academy.
The game is played annually in honor of Lt. Col Kevin Shea, who was a National Champion rugby player for the Air Force Academy before cross commissioning to the Marine Corps. He went on to teach, coach rugby, and be recognized as an honorary graduate of the Naval Academy. Lt. Col Shea gave his life in service of this country on 14 September, 2004 in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The game is played annually in his honor as a reminder of the type of legacy he left for both teams to carry as rugby players and future Military Officers.
With emotions running high, Air Force kicked off to Navy to start the game at 1530 local time in front of an animated crowd. It was a beautiful Colorado day and in the shadows of the famous AFA Chapel. The two sides felt each other out in the opening minutes before a well judged kick by Navy scrumhalf Cole Euverard put Air Force under pressure, setting up flanker Mike Galvan’s powerful run through a couple of Air Force defenders for Navy’s first try in the 6th minute. Moments later, in the 11th minute, flanker Braedon Mead dotted one down under the posts off a beautiful pass from second rower Jack Litjens on a lineout set piece. Euverard connected on the conversion to make it 12-0 Navy.
The Navy forward pack got it right in the 22nd minute with a well executed maul off the lineout that saw hooker Bill Bossert drive over the line. A Cole Euverard kick from the touch line made it 19-0 for the visitors. The forwards came up big again eight minutes later, expanding the lead to 26-0 as they pushed over the air force scrum for a penalty try. The scrum was led by the dominant front row of Cody Mendelow, Bill Bossert, and Bo Kendrick-Holmes. Air Force responded quickly with a couple of huge linebreak tries in the 33rd and 40th minutes as the effects of travel and adjusting to the Colorado altitude appeared to have an impact on the Midshipmen.
Air Force carried the momentum into the second half with an excellent line break once again. This time from 50 meters out to cut the lead to 26-19. Navy got back on track in the 60th minute after a crucial tackle from Galvan in Air Force’s own try zone forced a five-meter scrum. The Navy pack showed its strength once more, pushing the Air Force pack over for a try that was dotted down by 8-man Spencer Craig and kicked through by Euverard to make it 33-19. A penalty against Navy was kicked for points by Air Force moments later to cut the deficit to 33-22. Navy answered back once more when Spencer Craig quick tapped a penalty from 5 meters out to extend the lead to 38-22. The two sides continued to battle hard for the remainder of the game, but the score held. Navy retained the Shea Cup at Air Force for the first time in a number of years.
After the game, the two teams got together as brothers and remembered LtCol Shea. The cup is a strong reminder of the sacrifices made by past members of both teams. Although they were opponents this weekend, they all share the common goal of serving our nation.
Back on the east coast, the Navy 2nd XV were in action on the road against the Northern Virginia Griffins. The Navy side was in great form, putting on a beautiful display of attacking through the back line and dominance in the forward pack en route to a 62-24 victory. The Navy Third XV had a great test as well at home against VCU. It was another great opportunity for the younger players with limited rugby experience to get some valuable game action. What they lacked in experience, they made up for in hard work and relentless effort, playing the VCU tough to a last second 31-29 defeat. Across the board it was a great weekend for Navy Rugby with some invaluable experience gained and the Shea Cup staying in Annapolis for another year.
Next week, all three Navy sides play at home in Annapolis. The 1st XV plays Clemson at 1100 in their first conference match as part of Rugby South. Navy’s 2nd XV plays NC State at 1300, while the 3rd XV plays JMU at 1100 as well.
-- Spencer Craig