Sharks Look To Playoffs

They last were undefeated in 2005
Brian Anderson ladles the ball out of a scrum
Brian Anderson, who has replaced the retired Andy Reilly at scrum half, ladled the ball out of a scrum during the Montauk Rugby Club’s 61-0 rout of the Connecticut Yankees here Saturday. Jack Graves

    Playing back-to-back games this past weekend, the Montauk Rugby Club won both, capping its first undefeated Met Union season since 2005.    
    Bolstered this fall by a number of very athletic 20-somethings, quick studies who made their marks in other sports, lacrosse, wrestling, football, and baseball among them, the Sharks have been virtually unstoppable in divisional play. They take an 8-0 record into the Northeast region’s Final Four, to be contested Nov. 19 and 20 in Newport, R.I. A win on the first day there would assure the second seeds a berth in the national Sweet 16 tourney which is to be contested in the spring.
    Saturday’s well-attended home finale with the Connecticut Yankees proved to be a laugher as Montauk wound up winning 61-0. Steve Turza, Ricardo Salmeron (three), Connor Miller (three), Mark Scioscia, Gordon Trotter (two), and Matt Brierley, who was joined by his soon-to-be 53-year-old father on Herrick Park’s pitch in the second half, made the tries, rugby’s equivalent of touchdowns.
    Trotter, who finished as the Met Union’s Division II leader in points this season, with 92, didn’t have a good kicking day, going 2-for-7 conversion-wise, with two bouncing off the goal posts, but it didn’t matter given the fact that he and his teammates were so unrelentingly dominant.
    The Sharks used 23 players in Saturday’s romp, the maximum number allowed, Rich Brierley, the side’s coach, said. He added that the level of play suffered not at all when the substitutions were made.
    “They ran out of gas, and their defense was not organized,” the elder Brierley, whose nephew, Erik, was also in the lineup that day, said afterward in summing up.
    Some of the young guys, among them Scioscia, a former Big East lacrosse midfielder when he was at Villanova, and Charlie Collins, needed “some more training,” he said, “so they can fit in better with our pattern of play. That’s why we kept Mark out on the wing today [where he ripped off some long gainers], but he’s a weapon.”    
    Two other weapons, Zach Brenneman, an all-American lacrosse midfielder when he was at Notre Dame, and Jarrel Walker, who played arena football after his career at C.W. Post was over, were sidelined by injuries, back spasms in Walker’s case, a pulled muscle in Brenneman’s. Though Trotter said he expects everyone to be healthy when it comes time, following a bye week, to play at Newport.
    “These young guys are picking up the game so quickly,” he said in reply to a question, “that we’re the division champions and are playing in the regional Final Four.”    
    Middlesex, an undefeated Massachusetts side that is the defending Northeast champion, is the Newport tourney’s top seed. Montauk has received the second seed because of the showing last year of the Met Union’s Village Lions, who were the runners-up.
    Brierley said Montauk’s Nov. 19 opponent will be the winner of a match between Burlington, Vt., and Bayonne, N.J. The other teams, he said, will be Portland, Me., and Union, N.J. The Sharks won Met Union games with Bayonne and Union this fall.
    On Sunday, Montauk traveled once more to Rockaway to play a game that had been canceled the week before in stormy weather after the locals had jumped out to 22-0 lead in the first half.
    “We won 36-20,” Trotter reported Monday. “We only had 18 or 19 guys. We were behind most of the game, but in the last 20 minutes we put it away.”