Brewers tame raptors, slaughter knights, catch roadrunners

Over Families Weekend, between heartfelt reunions with various relations, members of Vassar fall sports teams took to their assorted fields, courts and farms to face off against a variety of foes. The teams were mostly successful, as women’s and men’s rugby, men’s tennis, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer and field hockey all notched victories. All photos courtesy of Carlisle Stockton

Families Weekend always features a spirited two days of competition, as every fall sport is in action, showing out for adoring parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and unwanted cousins. 2019 was no exception, though the clans of Vassar were joined by creatures of every stripe, from across the Division III landscape. Facing human and divine opponents like knights and saints, as well as numerous foes from the animal kingdom, the Vassar Brewers had an excellent showing across the athletic fields and courts.

Vassar women’s volleyball split their two matches on the weekend, losing to the Golden Flyers of Nazareth College 1-3 before taking down the Medaille Mavericks in four sets. There is no such bird as the golden flyer, but there is an American golden eagle. Described by as “masters of soaring,” the golden eagle is found in the west of North America, primarily in Alaska and Canada. Nazareth demonstrated their mastery of soaring, serving 14 aces to Vassar’s 4. The Mavericks (or unbranded calves) of Medaille were ill-suited for flights to the net, as Vassar racked up nearly 20 more kills in their takedown of their foes from Buffalo. Most mavericks remain unbranded because their owners want to use them as show cattle. Somehow, the maverick has been transposed from cows to horses, as the logos of both the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and Medaille College feature snarling horses. To review: In terms of aerial ability, eagles are superior to Brewers, which are in turn leagues ahead of both cows and horses.

At Gordon Field, Vassar women’s soccer opened the day by defeating the Mount Saint Mary Knights 4-0. Historically, knights carried out their duties on horseback, which raises an interesting hypothetical: Would a soccer team with 11 players on horseback outperform a team of 11 grounded humans? Obviously a dead sprint to the ball would favor the horse, but the question then becomes a) whether the horse is deft enough with its hooves to make the right play on the ball, and b) if the answer to a) is no, whether the player/rider can dismount quickly enough to make the play before the horseless human chases them down. Also worth considering is how quickly that dismounted player could get back on the horse to keep moving. Horses do seem well-suited to play goalie, though, and it would be extremely difficult to maintain composure on the ball with a full-grown stallion charging at you. Sophomore forward Emma Tanner and junior midfielder Emily Longo both posted a goal and an assist in the Brewers’ win, bringing their record to 3-3-1.

On Weinberg Field, across the road from the slaughter of Knights, the nationally sixth-ranked Brewers field hockey team brought the Roadrunners of Ramapo College to a halt, leaning once again on their suffocating defense in a 4-0 win. The iconic Road Runner of Looney Tunes, also known as Beep Beep, debuted in 1949 in the episode “The Fast and the Furry-ous” (Beck & Friedwald, “Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: A Complete Illustrated Guide to the Warner Bros. Cartoons,” 1989). The character is based on the greater roadrunner, also known as the chaparral bird or chaparral cock, which is found primarily in the southwestern United States and in Mexico. While the Road Runner is human-sized in Looney Tunes, the real-life roadrunner is a tiny bird. It does, however, reach top speeds of nearly 20 miles per hour, using its tail as a rudder to change direction (all bird info from PubMed). Ramapo was unable to change the course of the game after Vassar scored in the opening period, and the Roadrunners managed only two shots on goal in the second half. For Vassar, senior Rylie Pope recorded a goal and an assist, as Vassar improved to 7-0.

In Loudonville, NY, Vassar women’s rugby brought Siena College one step closer to canonization, demolishing the Saints 62-12. The process of canonization was standardized by Pope John XV in the 900s; prior to his edict, sainthood was decided by what Encyclopaedia Britannica describes as “public cult.” The Brewers scored 10 tries, including three in a row from sophomore Emily Howell. The Brewers, as defending national champions, have picked up where they left off last season, winning their first two games by a combined score of 123-12. The most recent saint to be canonized by Pope Francis was Bartholomew of Braga, who lived from 1514 to 1590, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Bartholomew was the archbishop of Braga, and contributed no fewer than 268 suggestions at the Council of Trent. Siena College had very few suggestions as to how to defeat the Brewers, facing a 38-7 halftime deficit that they were unable to cut into. The Brewers return to action this Saturday on the Farm against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Opening Liberty League play against the Raptors of nearby rival Bard College, Vassar men’s soccer struck twice in the first half before dominating possession and preserving the clean sheet. When most people think of raptors, they think of the abbreviation for velociraptor, the turkey-sized prehistoric dinosaur that Toronto’s NBA championship-winning team is named for. Raptors are also a classification of bird: According to the Bureau of Land Management, raptors are diurnal (meaning they hunt in the day) birds of prey. Idaho Public Television tells us that the word raptor is derived from the Latin word “rapere,” which means to seize or capture. Raptors, unlike other carnivorous birds, have hooked beaks with sharp edges, talons and keen eyesight. The soccer-playing Raptors displayed an occasional lack of keen eyesight, allowing junior midfielder Hawkins Barratt Heitmann to score the game’s opening goal on an uncontested header. Heitmann also posted an assist as the Brewers’ record improved to 4-3-1 on the season.

Continuing the dominance of Brewers over Raptors, men’s rugby eviscerated Bard 55-5. Vassar raced out to a 36-0 halftime lead and never looked back against the shorthanded Raptors, who arrived with fewer than ten players. Freshman Cole Landolt recorded three tries.

Men’s tennis did not drop a single one of their 15 sets against Bard. In fact, in six singles matches combined, the Brewers only dropped four games. Velociraptors are extinct. Bard’s tennis program may soon join them.

Vassar’s sports teams are called the Brewers in honor of the eponymous family’s business. The Vassar brewery opened in 1801 when Matthew’s uncle Thomas joined his family in Dutchess County, arriving from their native England with some barley in hand. After running away from home to avoid following in his father’s footsteps as a tanner, Matthew earned a modest income as a storekeeper’s assistant. He earned enough to feel secure in returning home, though the brewery burned down in 1811. In recognition of the Vassar brewery, the Vassar Brewers caught fire and stayed hot for all of Families Weekend 2019.

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