Following Saturday’s 24-22 loss in a friendly match with the White Plains Rugby Football Club, Rich Brierley, who coaches the Montauk R.F.C., said, looking ahead to the regional Sweet 16 tournament in Pittsburgh, that he liked Montauk’s chances.
The Sharks, he said, are to play the Midwest champion (probably Wisconsin) in the first game, on May 12. To advance to the Final Four, which is to be contested in Glendale, Colo., over the June 2-3 weekend, Montauk will have to win both games it plays in Pittsburgh’s Cheswick suburb, home to the Pittsburgh Harlequins.
To prepare for the Sweet 16, the Sharks, a Division II entry, scheduled friendlies with Division I sides this spring. “Our main goal — even more than the tournament — has been to get a lot of our young guys more experience. . . . Frankly, I thought we played better rugby than White Plains, but they capitalized on a few of our mistakes.”
That having been said, “I’d much rather that our mistakes stem from aggressive play rather than from just standing around. . . . Some of our young guys were playing matador defense.”
Montauk scored four tries Saturday, two by Zach Brenneman, the former Notre Dame all-American lacrosse midfielder, one by Connor Miller, and one by Ryan Borowsky. Brenneman and Miller are backs who are new to the game; Borowsky is a veteran forward.
A breakaway by Erik Brierley, another young back, almost tilted the pendulum Montauk’s way in the final minutes as he streaked to White Plains’ 22-meter line before being brought down.
A number of the side’s stalwarts, including Nick Finazzo, Teddy Grabowski, and Jarrel Walker, were out of action Saturday, “though, while we’re banged up a bit,” said Rich Brierley, “nobody’s seriously injured. We should be at 100 percent when it comes time to play in Pittsburgh.”
John Glennon, the team’s hooker, was cited afterward as Montauk’s man of the match. “It’s the forwards who keep you in the game, while the backs generally get the glory,” Brierley said. “The forwards are the ones who provide you with momentum and field position. We rely on our forwards a lot.”
The Long Island Rugby Club and Montauk are to vie in another friendly match at East Hampton’s Herrick Park this Saturday, beginning at 1 p.m.
Later that day, from 6 to 11 p.m., the side will hold a Casino Night fund-raiser at the American Legion Hall in Amagansett at which there will also be “a gourmet buffet, a 50-50 raffle, and a massive Chinese auction.”
The tickets cost $60 per person in advance and $75 at the door. Among the prizes will be “golf foursomes at the Bridge and the South Fork Country Club, gift certificates from local retailers and to local restaurants and inns, spa treatments, and personal training sessions.”
Tickets can be had by e-mailing Nick Finazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting the mountaukrugby.com Web site or the Montauk Rugby Facebook page.