U13s show best preformance of season versus LI/Fairfield; U15s struggle to a tie

nonameThe  Pelham Youth Rugby U13 team looked the best they have all season this Sunday against a combined Long Island/Fairfield team.

“I really do think if we could have played either Long Island or Fairfield individually we would have won one if not both, but it wasn’t to be,” said Director of Rugby Matt Persanis. “You can really start to see the difference in the players who come to practice ready to learn and are taking it more seriously.”

The final score was 5-2. Pelham was spurred by great long runs by Adam Razick and good runs and tackles by Aiden Sisk. Sam Jalnoos was tackling kids two times his size, and Alejandro Kahaner did the same. Sofia Imperato put in her usual strong game. James Bristow, Connor Evans, Will Jarka, Jean Vigroux, Conor Buechner and Cameron Ward all had some good points during the game. Newcomer Nick Lapponese is really starting to figure it out. But man of the match went to Tamio Shibasaki. His consistent strong play led to many turnovers for Pelham team.

Pelham U15 squad also played a combined Long Island/Fairfield team on a very hot Ingall’s field. Pelham had a bye week from league play, and was looking to get some practice in and try some players in new positions. Pelham was somewhat at a disadvantage in that it had limited subs (3) compared to Long Island/Fairfield team (7).

With several key players having participated in the Relay For Life the night before,  Pelham struggled with the heat. LI/ Fairfield jumped out to an early lead after Pelham was awarded a penalty just 10 yards from the LI/ Fairfield line. In an uncharacteristic move, one of the Pelham players picked the ball up while the team was still getting set and attempted to score on his own. He was tackled short of the line, turned the ball over and eventually LI/ Fairfield was able to score.

Pelham battled back. Off a scrum on their side of the field, Luke Persanis passed to Whit Johnson, who in turn passed to David Monaco. David was held up in a tackle, and Whit immedietly hit the pile, driving David and the pile down the field about 30 yards. David was brought to the ground, where Morgan Collins picked up the loose ball and battled over the line for the tying score. A few minutes later LI/ Fairfield got a lucky bounce off a missed pass and their wing went on a long run to go up 2-1.

The two teams then fought back and forth, with neither team really gaining an edge. While Pelham’s defense looked strong, they were misfiring on offense and made several uncharacteristic mistakes. With about five minutes left in the half, Pelham won a scrum at midfield. The ball popped out of the side, Luke Persanis picked it up, made some nifty moves to evade three tacklers and was just able to stretch out and score as he was being tackled.

After the half, Fairfield/ LI made numerous changes, bringing in the largest eighth/ninth graders Pelham’s coaches had ever seen. Pelham’s defense remained resolute, shutting out the opposition, but unforced errors also meant Pelham couldn’t score.The game ended in a tie.

“The result reminded everyone that rugby, maybe more than any other game, is truly a team sport,” said Coach Persanis. “Individual plays can only get you so far.”

Congrats for a well-played game  went to Christian Battaglia, Ryan Kileen, Danny Maydwell, David Monaco, Morgan Collins, Luke Persanis and man of the match Matt Rabinowitz. Matt’s defense was outstanding.

Both Pelham teams play their final league games of the season this coming Sunday, 4:45 pm kickoff for U13, 5:45 pm for the U15, at Iona College. The U15 team is going for its second consecutive undefeated season.