MILTON – For years, Belmont boys’ rugby has set the gold standard for public school programs.
But until Saturday, the Marauders had never been able to get past the Catholic Conference powers to earn an MIAA championship. Thanks to the efforts of John Campbell, Sam Harris, and countless others, Belmont was able to start fast and hold off St. John’s Prep, 31-26, in the Division 1 state final at Curry College.
Belmont (8-1) becomes the first public program to win the D1 boys’ state title since rugby became an official MIAA sport in 2017, joining Belmont girls’ rugby, which has won all three MIAA titles during that span.
“We’ve kind of had a stigma with these big schools and we think we’re going to have to catch them,” said Belmont coach Greg Bruce. “But we have a big, strong, physical team that can match up with everybody and the coaches know it. It’s just a matter of getting the kids to believe that, and they did.”
Harris got into the try zone five minutes into the game and Campbell followed with a successful try seven minutes later. Prep (6-1) responded with successful tries from Ryan Garlitz and Connor Rinklin to trail 14-12 at the half.
In addition to kicking five conversions, Campbell produced a few deft kicks during live play to advance the ball. His creative run early in the second half set up a try from Chris Lynch to make it 21-12 Belmont.
Campbell’s accurate kick set Belmont up deep in Prep territory for a try from Ethan Anderson to make it 28-12 midway through the second half, then the All-American kicked a key penalty conversion to make it 31-19 with 15 minutes remaining.
After spending the past year in Chile playing rugby, Campbell decided to come home to Belmont for his senior season.
“The first game of the season [Prep] wrecked us,” said Campbell. “We played one of our best games. Finally beating them in the state final feels amazing. It’s great to come back my senior year and get a state championship.”
Pat Fleming de Torres scored a try for Prep to make it 31-26 with just under 10 minutes remaining, but Belmont’s defense held tough down the stretch.
“We just kept building as the season went on,” said Bruce. “These kids are so critical of themselves. They tear themselves apart and we go into training and try to fix it. We put in 14 weeks of work to get to this moment and thankfully we were able to come out on the right side today.”
“Credit to Prep, they’re a great team. Our guys, when it came down to the end, they were able to execute a little more and that got us over the top.”
Milton 41, Cambridge Rindge & Latin 12 — With their mind-set focused on a perfect finish, and repeating as state champion, the Milton boys’ rugby team went right to work in Saturday’s MIAA Division 2 state final.
Senior captain Ryan Hoey converted a short try just five minutes in and the Wildcats never relinquished the lead in a 41-12 victory over Cambridge Rindge & Latin atCurry College.
“We wanted to come out of the gates fast because, to be honest, we haven’t been down all season and anything can happen at any minute,” said Milton coach Joe Dolan.
“Cambridge has a pretty dynamic team, if they came out and scored a couple of points fast, it’s going to change the whole feel of the game but the first five or 10 minutes we pretty much dominated the ball.”
Alex Caputo, a senior flanker and the Patriot League MVP, was an integral part of dominating the ball for the Wildcats (8-0). He converted two tries, including a score to increase the Wildcat lead to 22-5 just two minutes into the second half. Milton worked the ball into the offensive zone pretty steadily and scored on mauls near the goal line.
After Caputo’s try to open the final half, the Falcons didn’t come within 15 points of the Wildcats the rest of the way. Hoey and junior Bryce Stovell both scored their second tries of the game to increase the lead in the second half.
“We’ve played these guys in the past and we know their game plan is to run the ball down our throats, so we knew if we could come into that second half and stun them off the bat that it would make it a lot easier on us,” said Caputo. “It’s an amazing feeling. We came in knowing we could do it and we just came out and played our game.”
Cambridge finished 6-3.
Belmont 27, Lincoln-Sudbury 26 — On May 16th, L-S handed Belmont its first loss of the season.
Determined to defend its title, and continue its reign as the only girls’ champion since the MIAA officially sanctioned the sport in 2017, Belmont responded in the Division 1 final at Curry College.
Junior Eliza Campbell scored two tries in the first 12 minutes for a 10-0 lead and the Marauders (7-1) held for a riveting win and its third straight championship.
“That first game where they beat us 24-0, our girls used as fuel,” said Belmont coach Kate McCabe. “We happened to come out just one point on top and what a testament that is to both teams. It was a beautiful game.”
Ahead 15-7 at the half, the Marauders built on their lead as fly half Gabby Viale, a senior captain, added a try off of a steal by Sadie Kabrhel for a 22-7 margin. That was followed by a maul off of a throw-in, good for a Belmont try by Natalie Hill. That final score was just enough to holf off a final rally by L-S (7-2), capped by a long try from Christelle St. Louis as time expired for the 27-26 final.
St. Louis also scored the first try for Lincoln-Sudbury, eluding defenders all the way from midfield for the try and conversion to make it 15-7 going into the half.
Globe correspondent Thomas Herron contributed to this report.