The Canisius High School varsity rugby team capped off the season with a 28-7 win over Kenmore at the state tournament at SUNY Binghamton, earning the Crusaders third place in New York state.
Canisius drew Xavier to open the tournament in the state semifinal game. The Crusaders played tactfully the first half and did well to thwart the Xavier attack, force mistakes and reverse field position on multiple occasions. Twelve minutes in, Xavier ended the stalemate and touched one down for a 7-0 lead. A few minutes later, Canisius would capitalize off a few Xavier errors and John Minogue '18 would find some space out wide and sneak through the opposition’s defense to knot it at 7. Xavier would score twice more and go up 19-7 at the half. In the second half, Canisius would struggle to get quality attacking ball off set pieces and Xavier would extend their lead to a 38-7 win. "Hats off to a very skilled Xavier team," said Canisius Coach Nick Maurer.
Canisius then drew cross-town rival Kenmore for a rematch of last year's third place game. Kenmore, which has a contingent of St Joe’s players on its roster, got the better of Canisius in regular season play and the Crusaders were fired up to get revenge.
On a wet grass field, the Crusaders did well to keep the ball deep in Kenmore’s half and limit mistakes. The wet conditions slowed the game down a bit and made it difficult to work the ball out quickly, but Canisius adapted to it well and kept ticking away with some modest gains and relentlessly pressure. The three captains, John Minogue, Dan Harig '18 and Ray Miranda '18 would each score a try to open up a 21-0 lead. Sam Harig '20 would later punch one through on the goal line to extend the lead to 28. Kenmore would eventually score late but Canisius would win the match 28-7.
"Couldn’t be more proud of these guys," Coach Maurer said. "We played a great match against a tough Kenmore team and were able to cap of another amazing season with an impressive win! Always feels great to beat your rival as well."
The third place state finish is a program best. Jesuit schools swept the top spots at the tournament with Xavier taking home the gold, Fordham Prep the silver and Canisius the bronze.
"Strong play from everyone today," said Coach Maurer. "Real impressed with the tackling and work in the rucks. Joe Ippolito was a work horse on defense; as was Gabe Schlee and Victor Zurowski. Aidan Ostrowski was spot on with some crucial line out throws. Fellow freshman Wisken Whited also had a stand out game with some great kick returns and strong running. Kevin Roche had a superb kicking day as well. While he did have a penalty attempt fall short, he went a perfect four for four on his conversions and got us some great field position on his kicks to touch."
Captains, left to right: Dan Harig '18, John Minogue '18 and Ray Miranda '18.
Men of the Match honors went to the seniors. "The three captains each had their own handful of impactful runs while also each coming away with a try," explained Coach Maurer. "Our three man winger contingent of Mac Carroll, Mason Monteleone and Ryan Schultz all excelled on both sides of the ball. These first year seniors have picked up the game incredibly fast and have been troubling defenses out wide all year. The forward group of Reese Fiato, Mike Lesniak and Paul Koessler also contributed significantly to the win. Fiato with his bruising runs, Koessler with his pressure in line outs and Lesniak with the dirty work on defense and in the rucks. Very proud of all these guys."
Tries: Minogue, D Harig, Miranda, S Harig
Conversions: Roche 4/4
Penalties: Roche 0/1
2018 scoring totals of 92 tries amongst 24 different players for a total of 580 points. Six different players made a total of 60 conversion kicks out of 92 attempts.
Kevin Roche '19 lead the team with 93 total points converting 39 of 63 tries and scoring three of his own.
John Minogue fell just short with 92 total points but off a team high of 18 tries and one conversion kick. John also scored in every regular season and post season game except for one. Dan Harig ended the season with 12 tries while Ray Miranda was third on the team with 7.