An early morning 5am wakeup call was needed to get the Princeton team out of bed, fed and onto the bus for the three-hour drive to New Haven for our annual spring Koranda Cup game against Yale and a 10:30 AM kick off. This year marked the 16th year that Princeton and Yale met in this special spring match. When Princeton alum Rob Koranda ‘02 died tragically in 2003, the decision was made to name this game’s Cup in his honor, to remember him as the consummate teammate, by playing the game that he loved. (For more on the history of the Koranda Cup, see https://vimeo.com/171096801.)
Princeton had held the Koranda Cup for the past five years but expected a good fight from the Bulldogs playing at home and coming off two consecutive victories.
Yale started strong from kick off playing great rugby and forcing Princeton to play defense for most of the first half. The Tigers had to make numerous determined tackles to stop dangerous attacking forays by the Bulldogs on the Princeton try line. Princeton managed to take the lead 3 minutes before half time when scrum half and co-captain Max Weber finished off a long line break by wing Nick Dreher. Max converted his own try and Princeton led 7-0 at the break.
Yale hit back right after half time when Duane Madziva, a talented Zimbabwean fly half, scored a great individual try out wide. The conversion was missed and Princeton maintained a narrow 7-5 lead.
The Tigers immediately responded to the Yale try by applying pressure and finding a few gaps in the Yale defense. Princeton’s ball control paid off when Tigers’ second row Andrew Shofner powered over the line for a converted try.
Princeton’s next try came from a move off the back of a scrum. #8 Ben Schafer attacked the blind side and passed to #7 Billy Haynes, who finished off the move with a try under the posts. Max converted the try and Princeton led by 21-5. The Tigers were awarded a penalty try and 5 more points just a few minutes later when a long line break by outside center Christian Kazanowski was stopped short by a high tackle from the Yale cover defender. Princeton made the conversion and extended its lead to 28-5.
With 15 minutes left in the match, Princeton mounted another determined attack led by the forwards who pushed the Yale defense back to their goal line from a scrum 20 meters outside the Yale try line. Tight head prop Mohamad Shalan drove over to score a converted try taking the score to 35-5.
Ben Shafer scored Princeton’s final try from a well-executed play at the lineout and the game ended with a Princeton win, 40-5.
Princeton’s Man of the Match was Max Weber, who, together with his co-captain Adrian Odunayo, led from the front. Max also had a great kicking day, making 5 out of 6 conversions.
Thank you to everyone at Yale for hosting Princeton and continuing to honor the traditions of the Koranda Cup. Special thanks also to the Yale Parents Association for putting on a great post-game meal for both teams to enjoy together.
We wish Yale all the best for the remainder of the season.