Top-Seeded Division II West Rye High Rugby Club defeated Saratoga 3-0 for the State title June 5 at Utica.
By Melanie Cane
Top-Seeded Division II West Rye High Rugby Club defeated Saratoga 3-0 for the State title June 5 at Utica. The Garnets were undefeated in league play and won the Met NY DII playoff against Rockaway 49-10 on May 21. In a semifinal game June 4 they beat Corning 48-5 before taking the title game in only the team’s second year of league play.
The final remained scoreless until the last two minutes when Santi Mascolo won the game on a penalty kick. Mascolo also won the 2015 Rye-Harrison football game on a penalty kick.
Winning States has been the team’s goal since their first meeting in February. For this reason, the juniors on the team registered to take their SATs in Utica on June 4. The team practiced outside the high school where the exams were held and then Coach Jim O’Hara drove them straight from the exam to the game. The seniors, who had prom the night before, came home early and drove up to Utica early Saturday morning for the afternoon game. Coach O'Hara said this dedication and commitment to the team, as well as their hard work since the first day of practice, was the key to the team's success. “They are scholar-athletes. They proved that this weekend.”
Cameron Kamer, a junior and co-founder of the Rye Rugby Club, said it was a huge accomplishment especially because all of the other teams have been in the league for at least a decade. He credits chemistry, leadership, and attitude for the team’s accomplishments. “We are a family. We have athletes from the football, soccer, wrestling, and track teams who all bring their own skill sets and combine to make us multi-dimensional, fast, and physical. Our coaches and captain Bert Oberlander bring out the best in us and are great teachers. We go into every game expecting to win.”
Oberlander added, “On the field we are 15 guys playing as a unit.”
Mascolo was nervous about making that final penalty kick. “I knew I had to come through for the team. They played their hardest that game. It was an amazing feeling when I realized it was a perfect kick.”
In a show of community support, the Rye Police and Fire departments escorted the team bus from the Rye exit of I-95 to the high school upon their return from Utica.