Vienna Wins Virginia HS 7s
Vienna Wins Virginia HS 7s
The Vienna HS rugby program won the boys championship in the Virginia State Championships, taking the title in both Varsity and Middle School divisions.
Vienna beat West End in the semifinals and Richmond Strikers in the final.
In the first game of the Varsity tournament Vienna played a rebuilding Loudoun team and scored early and often. Vienna junior Dylan Liskey was undoubtedly the player of the Tournament, scoring nine tries in the four games, with a defensive effort that was even more impressive. LIskey's massive tackles and ball poaching were also enormously influential.
Liskey scored Vienna's first try, and then Camden Erickson and Norman Boykin added tries. LIskey then chased down an excellent chip kick from Graeme Ebert to score his second.
In the second half junior Brigham DeVore was yellow carded, forcing Vienna to play down a player, but strong Vienna defense forced a turnover and Liskey was over from long range. Sophomore center Andrew Evan showed he is very elusive and scored a sidestepping try. Cooper Nelson converted and that sealed it 40-0.
Vienna then played Richmond Black in their second game. Liskey stole Richmond ball in the ruck and drew a penalty. Erickson quick-tapped, dummied to beat a defender, and dove in at the left corner to score. Erickson then converted from the touchline for a 7-0 lead.
On the restart Ebert kicked off a perfectly weighted ball that Liskey caught in the air in stride and took 35 meters for another try. After some back and forth, Vienna sophomore prop Niko Tounger was yellow carded for a high tackle, and the referee ruled that a try would have been awarded without the high tackle and awarded Richmond a penalty try.
Richmond came very close to scoring but Vienna held on and a well-taken lineout steal by Liskey, who committed the defender and executed the offload to put Junior Asher Wentz through. Vienna won 33-7.
Vienna advanced to play Springfield West End in the semifinal. Vienna kicked off, turned the ball over and then prop Brigham DeVore rumbled his way over and through several West End defenders to strike first. Erickson converted for a 7-0 lead. West End penetrated down the wing Nelson recovered well and made the tackle for Vienna. Then Liskey jackalled the ball out of the ruck to halt that charge
Vienna later put the ball through many hands and center Andrew Evan scored from 50 meters out. The conversion by Erickson was good for a 14-0 lead.
West End finally broke through for a hard earned score under the posts to cut the lead to 14-5. Vienna responded immediately with a series of offloads from Erickson to Liskey to Andrew Evan and back to Liskey for another try. That made it 19-5. Erickson, Liskey, and Evan recently played together on the DC Old Glory Academy, and their chemistry was on display all day long.
Vienna regained possession, and this time worked the ball down the field surgically. Erickson dummied and snuck through a gap off the ruck and then use his left hand to offload to Liskey in support for another try to seal the game at 24-5.
That put Vienna in the final, and the other finalists, the Richmond Strikers Orange, coached by Stuart "Boomer" Willis, was waiting. The Strikers beat West End 7-5, Vienna JV 24-10, and Loudoun 26-15 to earn a well-deserved spot in the final.
The Championship Game
Vienna put Richmond under pressure early and earned a penalty due to another expert poach by Liskey. Erickson quick-tapped, and danced through two defenders to score the opening try. Sophomore Owen Lebkisher made some huge tackles all game long to lead Vienna's defense, which pushed Richmond into their own 22. Liskey jumped on an errant pass to score another Vienna try.
Richmond captain and scrumhalf Luke Willis played some exciting rugby all tournament long and marshaled his Richmond troops with aplomb. But Erickson jumped and intercepted a pass from Willis and put Andrew Evan through for a 70-meter try to put Vienna up 19-0. Willlis and Richmond fought back and scored a long try of their own to make it 19-7 at the half.
Halfbacks Willis and Erickson battled each other and led their teams well, and it was Erickson who would strike next, dodging and drawing several Richmond defenders to tackle him, allowing Brigham DeVore to put Sophomore Prop Niko Tounger into Space. Niko is built like a prop, but runs like a center and he would not be denied as he scored a long try to stake Vienna to a 24-7 lead.
Richmond kept bringing it and smartly attacked a poorly defended left fringe of the ruck and to cut Vienna's lead to 24-14. Vienna responded immediately and with possibly the best champagne rugby of the tournament. Andrew Evan received the kick, Liskey rucked and Ebert, who made try-saving tackles all day, cleaned up messy ball and passed to Erickson at his 22. Erickson faked left and beat two defenders, fended off Willis, and then executed a fancy offload to Liskey, who his the ball behind his back as he ran before brushing off two defenders and scampering the rest of the way for the game-sealing try.
Richmond battled back for one more try, but Vienna had won it 31-21.
It was a nice cap to a season that saw Vienna take 2nd in the Virginia 15s season, their Middle School team take the Tier 2 championship in the National U15 sevens championships, and their varsity 15s team get their highest ever ranking.
Co-captain Ebert and Erickson first played rugby together back in 2012 on the Vienna U9 TAG team that lost every game at the State Tourney. Many of the other current Vienna players joined in the years that followed and coaches Kendall Erickson, Brian Ebert, and Stuart Zimmerman continued to build the program. Vienna Rugby has won some Middle School 15s and 7s National Championships, but still have goals.
Liskey and Erickson said they can't wait for the 15s season to start in 2022. Vienna will return almost all of their young team that competed at Nationals in June.
Vienna's Middle School Rugby team also won the State 7s Championship this past Saturday. They beat Loudoun 49-12, Springfield West End 36-0, and WS/SYA/GF/Culpeper 49-7 to make the State Final game. Vienna MS Rugby team won the final 17-10 over WS/SYA/GF/Culpeper.