BLOOMINGDALE - For the first time in nine years, the Mountaineers collected some hardware as the host club of the 40th annual Can-Am Rugby Tournament.
As one of the three Mountaineers teams entered in the tournament, the men's over-50 squad earned a consolation title Sunday morning in a hard-fought, double-overtime match against Morris Rugby.
Although they didn't take home a title in the winners' bracket, the Moutaineers Old Boys, who are known as the MOB, left the pitch satisfied after dedicating the match to two fallen teammates. One was their former captain Dean Naegele, who passed away in 2012, and the other was Can-Am tournament director Jay Annis, who was airlifted by helicopter Friday to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vt. after he was badly injured in a game played Saturday.
Peter Madden of the Mountaineers speeds past a North Jersey defender on the way to scoring a try during Saturday’s action at the 40th Annual Can-Am Rugby Tournament.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
As it turned out, Annis was able to return to watch some of Sunday's championship games in a neck brace after suffering a fractured vertebrae.
"Before the game, we said we were going to win this one for Jay and Dino," said MOB co-captain Tim Mandigo, who travels to the tournament each year from his home in Colorado. "We've dedicated games to teammates in the past, but this is actually the first time we went out there and won one.
"It's been a long time since we've won a title," Mandigo said. "When we scored in double overtime, everybody just went nuts. It was thrilling. I think the last time any Mountaineers team won a plaque was in 2004, and the MOB did that too."
With a win and a loss on Friday, the MOB finished Can-Am play with a 2-1 record.
The Mountaineers also fielded a men's and a women's side, and both teams had impressive performances. The women won all three of their matches Saturday to move into Sunday's semifinal, where they were dealt a tough 17-12 setback to the Miss-Fits to finish at 3-1.
The team began action Saturday morning with a hard-fought 12-10 victory over Hudsonbury, and then rolled to wins in their next two matches, shutting out the Keene State Alumni and Uticuse by a combined 79-0 score.
The men's social side team began Saturday with a 28-5 loss to Saratoga, a team that recently captured a national title. In that game, Annis was injured late in a pile-up and was taken away in an ambulance. He was later flown by the New York State Police helicopter to be treated in Burlington, Vt.
The Mountaineers rebounded with a victory in their first consolation bracket match, topping the Brockport Doggies 36-7. With the win, the team earned a berth in a semifinal match late in the day against North Jersey. The Mountaineers owned the lead well into the second half in a contest that went back and forth, but North Jersey notched the final try and conversion of the game to prevail 26-22.