Pelham elementary flag rugby team wins Cup Division at NYC Cup; middle schoolers exit in semis

The Pelham elementary flag team and coaches held their trophy for winning the Cup Division.

The Pelham elementary flag team and coaches held their trophy for winning the Cup Division.

The Pelham elementary flag rugby team won the Cup Division at this past Saturday’s NYC Cup, the largest flag tournament in North America with more than 75 teams participating. The Pelham middle school team were knocked out in the semi finals.

Pelham has had a very strong presence at this tournament, having won it twice, finished second twice and come in third last year.

The elementary team played four matches against excellent opponents during the pool phase. It was a difficult day on the field for the team. Errors and hard calls by the referees contributed to disappointing results and an emotional afternoon for our young players. While they tried their hardest, they came up short. As our last match drew to a close and we were shaking hands with the team that had bested us, we were told that was it for us — that we would not find ourselves in the finals. As a result, several players and parents left for the day. Some others stayed to watch older children compete in the remaining matches for the middle school team.

It came as quite a shock, then, when we heard “Pelham” summoned over the loud speakers to assemble for the first round of finals in the Cup Division.

We managed to collect just enough players to field six in the first match of the knockout round — our six players against the opposing team’s seven. Not only were we short a player, but we had no substitutes. One or two of our players, who suffered minor injuries during the game, carried on. We won that first round. And unbelievably, we went on to play and win two other games in the finals, for a total of three back-to-back victories against competing teams who were just as hungry for a trophy as the young Pelham team.

Because of the unexpected turn of events, amazing luck and, most importantly, great playing by a shortened roster, the elementary team successfully brought home the Cup for Pelham Youth Rugby.

Luke Persanis was MVP for the day for the middle school squad, while Peter Monaco was MVP for the elementary team.