2007-05-25 / Sports

Xavier Locals Spark 2007 National Rugby Title Win

Xavier High School completed a spectacular rugby season last weekend by winning the USA National Rugby High School Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Xavier captured their third overall championship as they finished a spectacular season. The Knightspreviously won in 1985 and 1993.

Xavier qualified for the USA Nationals by winning the Northeast Rugby High School championship a few weeks ago. Led by head coach Mike Tolkin along with assistant coaches Joe Sweeney, Tim Walsh and Steve Olsen, the Knights combined brilliant ball handling and relentless defensive play to score 62 points and allow only 5 points in three matches.

In the first match, Xavier struck first against the Jesuit Blue Jays, the New Orleans based school which has won the Louisiana State Championship five times.

Sebastian "Sea Bass" Voight completed a great run for the first score, a long conversion by Billy Slattery (Breezy Point) and a second score by Seamus Kelly (Rockaway Point) gave them a 12-0 halftime lead. Xavier's strong depth led by Sean and Kieran Carly (Breezy Point) was too much as they won 17-0.

In the second round, Xavier met the hometown United U-19 of Utah who draws from several area high school which makes them a tough opponent. Xavier though found the answer by using their stringent defense to thwart United.Ryan McTiernan (Belle Harbor) would give Xavier a 7-0 lead as the half ended.

In the second half Seamus Kelly and Mike Erickson both scored and United would get their only five points in the last few minutes of the game as Xavier won 19-5. The locals were stunned as the Xavier fans serenaded a rendition of "Sons of Xavier".

In the national championship, Xavier's title hopes would be tested against the Los Angeles Cougars, the #1 seed team from Southern California. But from the opening whistle, it was clear that Xavier was on a mission.

McTiernan started the scoring with a steamroller type run and Chris Armstrong would follow for the second score of the day. Senior captain John Burke (Rockaway Park) broke the Cougars back with a dazzling 40-yard jaunt and Slattery would follow for the conversion to give the Knights a 19-0 halftime lead.

A downside for Xavier was the injury to scoring machine Jimmy Kowalski but Sean Kearney (Belle Harbor) came from the bench to give the Knights a lift. Senior Ryan Wunder was superb with his lineouts and punishing runs while senior Jon Dimola (Belle Harbor) was key as a wingman throughout the tournament.

Xavier hoisted the title by winning the game 26-0. Sophomore Steve Sanchez, Dan Tomai and Joe Drennan (Rockaway Point) all contributed as the team and the local boys brought home the championship.

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