With the MAC Championship freshly won by the Dragons, the Executive board sat down first thing the following morning to start planning and organizing the trip to the National rounds of 8 and 4. Hotels and vans were booked, forms filled out, and funds were raised. The Dragons were heading to the Eastern Regional Championship. First game – Atlanta Renegades on 5/19.
The trip began on May 18th. Soon after sunrise the Dragons departed for Obetz, Ohio. 30 people, 3 vans, one team, one dream.
The journey itself was a culmination of 18 months of dedication and hard work. Check in was on Friday night along with a coachs’ and captains’ meeting. The Dragons were all set for Saturday’s game. All the Dragons gathered for a team dinner and the camaraderie built over this past run was on full display.
The main concern at this point was the extreme weather that was expected. The worst case scenario we were presented with was half of a game on Saturday being called for weather, followed by two full games on the Sunday. No matter what, USA Rugby would have it’s Regional Champions after this weekend.
Saturday began with a hearty breakfast and a brief walkthrough to get everyones’ focus in the right place. Everyone was healthy and ready for battle. Already the weather reports were looking much improved. A game we once feared would not happen at all, was now poised to go off without a hitch.
The match with the Atlanta Renegades was back and forth throughout. The scoring started off with Atlanta hitting 1-2 penalties early on right inside the Doylestown 22. Soon after, in the 11th minute, Atlanta tagged on a forwards try from a few meters out after a line break by their 11. Conversion no good. 8-0 Atlanta.
In the 22nd minute Doylestown answered back with a try in the corner from Kyle Markovitch. Kevin Reilly went weak side off a 5 meter breakdown and put Kyle through. 8-5 Atlanta. Doylestown quickly struck again in the 26th minute. After a beautiful pop kick from Dylan Hamilton, Dave Kornock made the tackle, recovered the ball, and offloaded to a streaking Kevin Reilly Jr who touched down to give the Dragons the lead. Conversion no good. 10-8 Doylestown.
33rd minute, Dylan Hamilton breaks the line after another well worked chip and chase followed by a counter and poach. Max Compo on the kick this time. Eric French with the pick up, Dylan Hamilton for 5. Make it 7 with the made conversion. Doylestown would carry this 17-10 lead into the half.
in the 41st minute the Atlanta 10 put their electric wing through for his first try of the day. He snuck through the Doylestown backline and touched in down under the posts to set up an easy kick. 17-15 Doylestown. in the 44th minute the Dragons answered back with a penalty conversion from Hamilton. 20-15 Doylestown.
Unfortunately, the 56th minute saw a Doylestown kick swung wide to the far side of the field and the Atlanta 11 touched down for his second of the day. 22-20 Atlanta with 20 minutes left to play.
In the 65th minute Matt Frederick touched down after Doylestown knocked on the door for what felt like an entire afternoon. The defense met him about 10 meters out but “Freddy” took him for a ride and took the lead back for the Dragons. Conversion no good, 25-22 Doylestown.
In the 70th minute the Dragons, down in their end, released a beautiful clearing kick past half field. By some unthinkable misfortune the ball was caught by the referees tent and rolled into the hands of an Atlanta player. He went quick and found his dynamic wing with endless space. He zigged and zagged through the Dragons and retook the lead for Atlanta with ten minutes to play. Conversion no good 27-25 Atlanta.
The Dragons ultimately fell in a game that they could have won at multiple points. It was a valiant effort and the men of Doylestown truly left every ounce of themselves on the field. The heartbreak was written all over their faces as they walked off the field. Nevertheless the somber faces did not last for long. A consolation game against Morris RFC awaited the Dragons on Saturday and they would not play that game with anything less than all the pride of Doylestown. The match was won 41-31 to guarantee the Dragons a finish of 5th in the Nation. A rousing success for a team that didn’t qualify for playoffs in our previous season year.
The bar has been set very high moving forward and almost the entire club will be back for more next year. Consider this the new standard.
Thank you to all of the Dragon supporters for a banner year for the club as a whole. We couldn’t be more proud of all of our youth compatriots for wildly successful seasons. More important than any of the winning records are the growth the club has experienced over the last year which truly couldn’t have happened without every member of every club.
A very cool note would be that our own Dylan Hamilton was the highest scoring player in USA Cub rugby in any division. A wonderful achievement.