Dutchman’s Shoes rivalry has become more intense

For many decades, the Union College Dutchmen dominated New York’s oldest collegiate football rivalry
PHOTOGRAPHER:

There is something missing in the Union College

trophy case.

For many decades, the Dutchmen dominated New York’s oldest collegiate football rivalry, but for the last two seasons, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has owned the prestigious Dutchman’s Shoes Trophy.

That doesn’t sit well for Union, which will try on Saturday to prevent the Engineers from winning the final game to be played on RPI’s ’86 Field. The next time the game is played in Troy, it will be contested at RPI’s new facility, the East Campus Athletic Village behind the Houston Field House.

According to Union records, the Dutchmen own a 78-23-4 advantage in this series, which began on Nov. 20, 1886. RPI records indicate a

77-25-4 Union edge. This will be the 59th meeting since the Dutchman’s Shoes Trophy was introduced in 1950. Union has triumphed 44 times since then, but in the last decade, the series has been even at 5-5.

“The Dutchman’s Shoes Trophy

is the most cherished trophy we have in our trophy case. Unfor­tunately, it’s not there right now,” said Union athletic director Jim McLaughlin, who played for Union in this rivalry 20 years ago.

“The kids understand where the trophy is at this point,” said Union head coach John Audino during Wednesday’s annual Dutchman’s Shoes Trophy press conference at RPI’s Mueller Center. “It’s always a big game on our schedule. The game is always competitive. Strange things happen in this game.”

Union College senior linebacker Joe Catalano from Christian Brothers Academy understands the significance of the trophy more than most players on either roster.

“I’ve never had the Shoes Trophy.

I was at Lehigh my freshman year, and for the last two years, it has belonged to RPI,” said the Union co-captain.

“It’s definitely a big deal. There are a lot of kids I know who are playing in this game. It’s a very personal thing for me. I know it will be an intense atmosphere.”

RPI captain Nick Casale, a defensive lineman, is another local player with plenty of appreciation for the fifth-oldest football rivalry among NCAA Division III programs.

“I remember going to games when I was younger,” said Casale, a graduate student who played at

LaSalle Institute in Troy. “I got a real taste of it from my brother, who was on the RPI team that advanced to the national semifinals. But I

really didn’t understand what it meant until I came here and began playing in the game myself.”

For the last several seasons, this rivalry game was the last game of the regular season, and it had added significance for a possible league championship and an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Although RPI still has two more games to play after Saturday, the Dutchman’s Shoes game could still determine the Engineers’ postseason destiny. They are leading the Liberty League at 4-0, and are 6-0 overall. Union is 2-2 in the league and 3-3 overall.

“This game is not a distraction, in terms of what we’re trying to play for,” said RPI receiver Eren Savasli. “It’s just a part of what we’re

doing. It’s another step on the road for us to hopefully win the league championship.

“For years, this rivalry was lopsided, but it’s become a great rivalry for the last couple of seasons.”

RPI head coach Joe King agreed that this historic game definitely has become an equal rivalry for both programs.

“This is as big as it gets,” said King. “The fact is that for many years, we weren’t even competitive in this game. The scores weren’t even close before. But for the last 10 years, it’s become very compet­itive.”

Categories: College Sports

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