Blue Goose upsets Vail for first time in 12 years
Vail, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado ” The Gentlemen of the Blue Goose Rugby team hadn’t beaten their rivals from Vail in 12 years. They had lost both meetings this season, the last of which by a decisive 33-8 score.
But when the teams hit the pitch Saturday afternoon at Kingdom Park, the Blue Goose reversed the trend, upsetting Vail in a dramatic, last-minute 22-21 victory.
“The guys were pretty flat last week in (our loss to) Steamboat,” Goose head coach Peter Clarke said. “I think that we had a little extra motivation because of the poor play last week.”
The game appeared to be just out of reach for Breck’s squad when Vail scored a go-ahead try with less than five minutes remaining in the match.
However, after fielding a kick, Breck winger Matt Reisinger subsequently booted the ball back down, deep in Vail territory. The Vail defender went to kick the ball away when it took a funny bounce to his left. Reisinger then dove under the defender’s flailing leg to recover the ball or the try, giving the Goose the 22-21 win.
“I just tried to (kick) the ball in a spot that I could run and get it,” Reisinger said of the winning play. “Then I got that lucky bounce that went my way.”
Vail coach Steve MacKinnon found the loss a bit hard to swallow.
“I felt that we did enough to win, just a bad bounce,” MacKinnon said. “We just didn’t get enough possessions throughout the game, and when you don’t have the ball, it is hard to win.”
The Blue Goose started the match strong, gaining possession and driving deep into Vail’s side of the pitch where they drew a penalty. After Nate Olsen drilled the first of his four penalty kicks in the game, Breck led 3-0. Vail responded by breaking a long, virtually-uncontested try by Chris Burney moments later.
That would be the last time Vail would score in the opening half.
The Blue Goose broke their first try of the game about midway through the first stanza, as Kyle Anderson squeezed through a pile at the try-line for the score.
With a 16-7 lead at the break and Vail struggling to sustain any offense, Breck look poised for the upset.
“We really tried to focus on our defense and not give up any big plays like we have in the past,” Reisinger said.
Unfortunately, the Blue Goose did just that, as Rikke Pederson broke a lengthy run for another easy try.
The lead was cut to two points after the conversion, and the two teams held each other defensively for nearly the rest of the half, until the climactic last few minutes.
“That certainly doesn’t help on a coach’s gray hair, that’s for sure,” Clarke said after the win. “We gave them two tries where they didn’t have to work for them and that is frustrating. But it was great to see our boys bounce back like that and get that last try.”
Both Vail and Breck will travel to Missoula, Mont. for the Ski Town Tournament next weekend.
Bryce Evans can be reached at (970)668-4634 or at email@example.com.