When a team is down and is looking for a big play, no matter what the sport, a team will turn to its captain to lift them to victory.
On Saturday, the Bulldogs Rugby Team called upon their captain Michael Caira, and he answered in a huge way.
In what was a physically tough game for both teams, the Bulldogs picked up their second straight victory over St. Michaels this past Saturday, 19-12, thanks to a crucial late score by scrum half Michael Caira. With just a two-point lead, Caira made a heads-up play and was able to find the end zone with time winding down in the game. Rookie forward Richard Casiello had yet another stellar performance on Saturday, scoring on his second try in as many weeks. Not only does the victory give the Bulldogs their second straight victory, but it’s also their first winning record of the season.
Needless to say, this game was a huge momentum swing for the Bulldogs going forward.
“This is just the type of win we need,” said forward Richard Casiello following the game. “Coming up with a close victory like this is just what we needed. Winning close games just shows how tough we can be.”
Tough is exactly how this game began for both teams. The first half was filled with big defensive hits, turnovers, and brutal play. The Bulldogs had a few opportunities to take an advantage in the first half.
However, St. Michaels came up with some big defensive plays, forcing turnovers both times the Bulldogs were near the goal line. The Bulldogs’ defense stiffened as well, coming up with a critical stop when St. Michaels was threatening early in the half. Despite all the potential for each team, both teams headed to their half time huddles in a scoreless contest.
It seemed like all the Bulldogs needed was a quick water break to figure out their offensive game plan. Within the first couple of minutes in the second half, forward Karim Kamperman found the end zone to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game. After kicker Ryan Pesaturo converted his first extra point of the afternoon, he gave his team a 7-0 lead early in the half.
Bulldogs’ fans didn’t have to wait long to see their team score. Just minutes after the first try of the game, Richard Casiello showed he has a nose for the end zone, scoring right up the middle for his second try of the season. After another Pesaturo kick, the Bulldogs looked like they had the game wrapped with a 14-0 advantage.
However, St. Michaels sent a message to the Bulldogs not to get too comfortable. In just a matter of minutes, St. Michaels scored two quick tries, trying to mount a comeback. Even with both the scores, St. Michaels only converted on one of their two kicks, as the Bulldogs still held on to a 2-point lead.
About halfway through the remainder of the game, the physical play started to take its toll on players. There were many big hits and penalties for both teams, as each team fought for advantage. It seemed like with every big tackle, momentum began to swing to each team.
With time winding down in the game, the Bulldogs turned to their captain to make the play of the game. Michael Caira was able to pick up the ball and score on the right side almost unnoticed. It was a great heads-up play by Caira, and he was able to come up in the clutch for his teammates. Despite a missed extra point, the Bulldogs took a 19-12 lead with very little time remaining. With some great defensive efforts, the clock hit zero, and the Bulldogs were able to win their second straight game of the season.
The Bulldogs couldn’t be more proud of how this team fought throughout the entire game.
“We really do have a never give up attitude,” Casiello said. “It’s this that helps us win these big games. I’m really proud of this team and to be a part of it.”
Despite the big victory, the Bulldogs don’t have much time to celebrate, as one of their biggest tests of the season awaits them this Saturday. The Bulldogs will go on the road to face UMass Lowell in what will be one of the toughest games of the year. The Bulldogs will try to give UMass its first loss of the season. The result of this game could have huge implications on the playoffs and standings. With this victory, the Bulldogs will establish themselves a legitimate contender in the conference.