RUGBYMag.com was not kind to the US Naval Academy men’s 7s team in its previews, picking the Midshipmen to finish 1-2 (albeit with the caveat that the pool was highly competitive and could end up any which way).
Certainly few people thought that Navy would finish the day 3-0, and yet they did, beating Dartmouth, Air Force, and Cal Poly.
On the second day, they lost a tight game to St. Mary’s, beat Texas A&M, and then were put away by Kutztown 38-12.
A disappointing end, but for a team expected to struggle to get out of the bottom four, 6th wasn’t bad at all.
And their style of play was more sophisticated and just flat better.
“We’ve been working our butts off all year,” said captain Nick Hancock. “These guys are going to be tired after this. We worked out every morning and after school after dinner. Every day and every week it’s been something different. We might go through a week where we go through forward ball and bouncing back out to the backs. We’ve learned to be flexible.”
And they needed that flexibility as they had to play without the inspiration Seamus Siefring. Still, said Hancock, they wanted more.
“We know we fell short of what we can accomplish,” said Hancock. “But at the same time we shocked a lot of people. With different guys and filling in for Seamus, in practice we don’t have a set lineup so we’re adaptable.”
Meanwhile the women were doing quite well. Spencer Wilson of the men’s team was being interviewed on Saturday and stopped to congratulate the Navy women as they walked by.
“The women have been doing awesome, we’re really proud of them,” he said. “For us our defense has been pretty poor in the past, and we worked on that a lot.”
“It’s pretty surreal,” added Lora Thomerson. “Or goal has been to go out and play to our full potential. We've just been playing to our strengths. We have been just being a team”
In the end, Navy teams played 12 games, winning 9 and losing 3. They played entertaining 7s, supported each other, comported themselves admirably, and exceeded expectations.