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No trips to Disney World this year.
The Harvard men's rugby football team's advance to the Eastern Finals in Orlando, Fla., was halted by an Army Saturday at the Northeast Regionals in West Point.
That's the United States Army, and on its home battle-ground... er... playing field, the Cadets sent the Crimson into retreat with a 22-16 victory.
Last year, the Crimson also unsuccessfully faced Army for the right to advance to Orlando, falling, 12-3, on two tries in the final 10 minutes.
This year, Harvard had higher hopes, although all knew the Cadets were favorites. The Crimson's 16 points far outstripped the nine points scored against the Military Academy's forces all season to date.
"At the beginning of the season, we didn't think we'd get this far," Harvard Coach Martyn Kingston said. "But now we're kicking ourselves. We could have won that game."
The Crimson opened the scoring early, with two penalty kicks by sophomore Co-Captain Andrew Pinkerton establishing a 6-0 lead 15 minutes into the contest. Harvard had more opportunities, however, as the Crimson was "encamped on Army's goal line" for the first 20 minutes, according to Kingston.
With the chill wind and sleet at its back during the first half, Harvard needed to convert early opportunities.
"Army traditionally comes back strong," Kingston said, noting the previous year's game.
The Cadets matched the Crimson's score with a breakaway try and conversion. Harvard opened up a 10-6 lead off Peter Wilensky's first try, but the Cadets counterattacked with another breakaway try. Neither team was able to convert, and the half was a stalemate.
"Once again, there was an inability to stop their power runners," Kinston said. "There were three Harvard guys wrapped around the legs of the guy who scored the second try.
Events moved quickly in the second half, as Army tallied a penalty kick, a converted try and another kick in succession to open a 22-10 lead with 15 minutes to play.
With two minutes remaining, Harvard's Wilensky scored his second try right under the goalposts, and Pinkerton converted, but those six points were all the Crimson could muster in the half.
Army, which a fortnight ago beat last year's national champion, Air Force, 20-0, will play in the Eastern Finals in Orlando on December 5.
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