Connor Miller and James Lock shared the Montauk Rugby Club’s player of the year award at the club’s holiday dinner at Page at 63 Main restaurant in Sag Harbor on Friday.
Miller, a 23-year-old inside center who was a wrestler in high school and college, and the English-born Lock, who is in his early 30s, were key factors in the Sharks’ 6-1 fall season, a finish that resulted in their receiving a bye in the first round of this coming spring’s regional playoffs.
Meanwhile, in other men’s sports news this week, Maidstone Market, the Yankees, as it were, of soccer here, won their ninth championship in Herrick Park’s 7-on-7 league, besting Tortorella Pools 2-1 in the final on Dec. 3.
Leslie Czeladko, the league’s spokesman and Tortorella’s manager, said that Tortorella had made a game of it despite the fact that one of its scoring threats, Jose Almonsa, arrived late, and that another, David Rodriguez, was hobbled by an ankle injury.
Craig Caiazca, Tortorella’s goalie, kept his team in the game in the early going, parrying several serious Maidstone shots.
Midway through the first half, John Romero slipped by a defender, Steven Orrego, who had fallen down, and blasted a shot by Caiazca from about 10 yards out. What proved to be the game-winner came just before the halftime break as Hector Marles slid in at the left post to convert a pass from Antonio Padilla.
Though trailing 2-0, Tortorella, according to Czeladko, played very well in the second half. Oscar Reinoso made it 2-1 with about 15 minutes to play when, after Almonsa had received a pass from Danny Salazar and had kicked the ball by the onrushing Maidstone goalie, Alex Meza, he slid in for the kill at the far post.
Tortorella played the last 12 or so minutes a man-up — the result of Gerber Garcia’s ejection after tripping Rodolfo Marin — though the perennial champions’ defense held.
Czeladko said afterward that it was the fifth time Maidstone and Tortorella had met in the championship match.
Teams got together by John Romero Sr., Maidstone’s manager, and by Duvan Castro are playing in an indoor league this winter at the Southampton Recreation Center. Indoor 7-on-7 leagues at the Sportime arena in Amagansett are to begin this week.
Back to the rugby dinner, Rich Brierley, the Sharks’ coach, said Nick Finazzo, a veteran second-row forward, had received the clubman of the year award “for his fund-raising and organizational work off the field. . . . He’s the one when we need something done.”
A new “lifetime achievement” award — one that the club intends to give periodically henceforth, said Brierley — was bestowed upon the club’s founder, Charlie Whitmore.
“He’s been with us the whole way,” said Brierley, who added that other alumni, players who’ve been retired for at least 15 years, would be considered as recipients of lifetime achievement awards in the future.
As for the spring, “We and Danbury are the top two [Empire Geographical Union] teams,” said Brierley. “The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth teams are to play off on April 20. We’ll play the higher-seeded team among those four over the May 4-5 weekend, probably at Randall’s Island in New York City. If we win both games we play that weekend, we’ll go on to the national Sweet 16. Those games were played in Pittsburgh last year.”
Meanwhile, the side is holding practice sessions — to which all comers are welcome — Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in East Hampton High School’s gym.
Regarding the club’s co-players of the year, Montauk’s coach said, “James had been a wing forward, but immediately volunteered when we said we needed someone to move up to prop forward in the absence of Danny Fagan. They’re quite different positions. Wing forwards play in the loose — they’re like linebackers. Props are in ‘the engine room.’ They’ve got to be able to win the ball in the scrums. If they don’t, it’s hard to get any momentum going. James not only did well in that phase of play, but he was also very good in the loose.”
“Connor is a natural tackler, he’s extremely fast, and he has great body position. He knows how to get tackled so that he can keep recycling the ball. He also has the ability to break loose. He gets us a lot of big yards.”