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Navy Wns ACRC 7s in Dramatic Style

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Navy Wns ACRC 7s in Dramatic Style

MVP Gardy Lebon moves into space against Stony Brook. ACRC 7s photo.

The US Naval Academy defeated Kutztown in dramatic fashion to win the ACRC 7s in Virginia Beach, Va. Sunday.

Navy finished off Saturday’s pool play by winning the last game of the day with a try at the final whistle, and then did exactly the same thing on Sunday.

Navy utilized a physical approach combined with a willingness to test the width of defenses.

Some excellent work from scrumhalf Gardy Lebon and flyhalf Jake Martin, with Jacob Rowell and Connor McNerney involved as well, helped set up freshman Mike Samaniego for an early try.

Kutztown replied with an excellent team try started by Wes Hartmann and finished by Robert Stortz. That made it 7-7 at halftime.

Fortunately for both teams the worst of the rain fell just before kickoff. it was wet, but not horribly so, and both teams were able to work their offense. John Sage was especially good for Kutztown as they worked to pressure Navy. Dillon Smith made some big hits for Kutztown and finally a big run from Lill helped set up an attack that Sage finished with good support running. Sage converted to make it 14-7 Kutztown. 

But Navy came back, battling down the sideline before an offload to Samaniego created a try and a 14-12 KU lead with 90 seconds to go.

Navy chased their restart, got the ball back, and as time ran out, worked it wide to Jake Martin, who was in at the corner for the 17-14 win.

It was a thriller on a day of some exciting games. 

Also on Sunday, Penn State, behind an excellent weekend from the redhead duo of Joe Kelly and Ryan McNulty, held off Delaware 19-14 for 3rd. Delaware had upset 3-0 JMU in the quarterfinals, showing a much-improved game on Sunday, when they finished 1-2, but lost 21-19 to Navy and 19-14 to Penn State.

JMU, for their part, put aside a distressing loss in the Cup Quarterfinals to win the Plate, beating St. Joseph’s behind some snappy play from Federico Meersohn and Mo Katz getting involved in every aspect of the game.

Kutztown 2 beat Old Dominion 45-5 to win the Bowl with Troy Crowtheir go-to man for key tries. ODU didn’t play badly, but hit a wall at the end of a long weekend.

After a weekend of iffy play, the Heat Elite capped off the weekend with a 34-5 win over Lehigh for the Shield.

Goff Rugby Report’s MVP for the tournament was Lebon, the scrumhalf for Navy and a former star for Greenwich HS. Our Dream Team for the tournament was:

Prop: Mo Katz (JMU)

Hooker: Connor McNerny (Navy)

Prop: Ryan McNulty (Penn State)

Scrumhalf: Gardy Lebon (Navy)

Flyhalf: John Sage (Kutztown)

Center: Joe Kelly (Penn State)

Wing: Murphy Lill (Kutztown)


“It’s just a brotherhood,” said Lebon about his Navy squad. “We play together, we play for each other. We came here, we weren’t looking for anything. Weren’t looking for any trophies or glory, we were looking to come together and play, which is what we love to do.”

Navy had to battle through injuries and moved the players around a little.

“That’s not a problem because we really depend on each other and trust each other,” said Lebon. “That’s more than rugby, it comes with our job and what we’re doing at school We always have to think about how we’re going to have someone’s back, it’s selfless and I love it.”