Sad city college rivalry will end

The words over the microphone of Daniel Webster College assistant athletic director Ken Belbin had a sad ring of truth to them on Sunday.

"Good afternoon, welcome to Eagle Field," Belbin told the fans who were on hand for the DWC-Rivier men’s soccer game. "Today, Daniel Webster and Rivier will meet for the 24th and final time in men’s soccer."

Ugh.

"And I’m going to say it a few more times," Belbin said during the Eagles’ 1-0 win over the Raiders. "It’ll be weird for Rivier next year; where’s our crosstown rivalry? It’s the end of an era.

"It’s unfortunate. … I certainly wanted to recognize it, I think that’s important. We’ll continue to celebrate it the rest of the year. You can look at it as the end, but also say let’s celebrate what we had."

Spin it any way you like, but this is not good for the city of Nashua or local sports that an institution such as DWC is shutting its doors. Who knows what will happen to the buildings, the land, the athletic fields, etc. – all basically that could be up for auction, or whatever. Certainly with Southern New Hampshire University taking over things, the campus and athletic program are likely to be shut down at the end of the year. It’s something City Hall had better keep a very close eye on, and we feel it’s frustrating city officials couldn’t have prevented something like this from happening to begin with.

"Can I believe it? Yes. Does it make me incredibly sad? Yes," Rivier athletic director Joanne Merrill said. "It’s been a great rivalry for us through the years, it’s been great to have two Divison III colleges in the city. But just my overwhelming feeling is sadness that it’s the end of an era.

"They’re us. It’s the same. I think about it every day."

Sunday’s game has a slight chance to be the final men’s athletic contest between the two city schools. The annual season opening mid-November Midnight Madness men’s basketball game was going on hiatus for a year anyway as Rivier said logistics didn’t work for its team to recover in time to play the next game on its schedule. But, we think they should find an open date if possible and allowable by NCAA rules – if not, appeal it – and play for the final time.

Men’s lacrosse is scheduled to play in the spring, but will DWC still have enough players for a team? Former head coach Bill Cosentino was just named the head man at St. Joseph’s in Maine. Belbin said the two baseball programs are slated to play not one, but two games at Holman Stadium on separate dates next April.

As for the women’s programs, numbers were always thin at DWC anyway. The fall teams are playing in final push mode, and you may want to circle Nov. 22 on the calendar as the last Riv-DWC women’s basketball meeting.

"We have a lot of fight to get to the end," Eagles women’s soccer player Rose Brown said. "For me personally, (the last day) will be very emotional for me. I’m already emotional to the point where it’s building up."

Despite the gloom hanging over the Eagles’ athletic program, Sunday’s men’s soccer game was a break from all of that. Chasen Congreves scored the game’s only goal, pushing in a Michael Ottman boot in the 58th minute past Riv keeper Colin Deyarmin, who was spectacular with 13 saves.

This was DWC’s 10th straight win over the Raiders (3-4-1), who won the overall series 12-11-1. Ironically, the Eagle streak was started by current Raiders coach Bill Lawler, who went across town four years ago. Unfortunately for Lawler, he was red carded in a game Saturday and had to sit this one out. But his assistant who took over for the day, Greg Phillips, is a DWC alum, graduating in 2008.

"It was tough, I played four years here," Phillips said. "That streak that DWC is on, my team started that my senior year. I was hoping to end it today. But it was tough being here for the last time. (The rivalry) means a lot."

Congreves said, "It’s a rivalry that can’t be beat; we always talk to each other, see each other," and thus he will enjoy going in the books as getting the last game-winner between the two.

"I’m going to gloat about it all the time," he said.

Remember, the Eagles (4-3-2), of all the fall teams, have bigger fish to fry. Their panacea is trying to win a third straight New England Collegiate Conference title and return to the NCAAs. This is their last hurrah.

"It was great to get the result," Eagles coach Matt Correia said, adding the Raiders gave them their toughest battle in recent meetings. "It’s too bad. We enjoyed playing these guys across the city, we’ve always had some great battles. It’s unfortunate we can’t keep it going."

Unfortunate, indeed.

Tom King can be reached at 594-6468, tking@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_TomK.