Pelham Rugby hosted longtime rival Manhattan Rugby on Nov. 17 in what was the final game of the season for both teams.
First up was the U13 game. Manhattan jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead. But thanks to the strong individual effort of Captain and Player of the Match Sofia Imperato, Pelham struck back and scored. The game became a defensive contest after that, with neither team able to crack the other. Pelham’s defensive effort was led by Woods Johnson, Adam Razick, Conner Evans and Imperato.
Pelham made numerous probing runs, with players getting deep into Manhattan territory only to be tackled short of the try line. Making several long runs were Imperato, Patrick Zahradnik, Sofia Imperato, Adam Razick, Jean Vigroux and Conner Evans. Helping to create space for those players was the excellent passing of Duffy Doyle and Alejandro Kahaner.
Unfortunately, Pelham’s inability to score led to their downfall. They lost 6-1. Playing for Pelham were Alejandro Kahaner, Sofia Imperato (C), Duffy Doyle, Jean Vigroux, Woods Johnson, Adam Razick, Conner Evans, Conner McNulty, Quinn Jenkins, Luca Philips, Andrew Shulshenko and Tamio Shibasaki.
In the U15 game, Pelham faced its toughest challenge in a long time against a Manhattan team bolstered by six players from the national championship winning Xavier High School team. The change in Manhattan was dramatic. Last time the two teams met, the match was a 20-2 blowout for Pelham. Pelham’s over confidence and Manhattan’s improved play led to a 3-2 Manhattan advantage at halftime, which they then stretched to 6-2. It would have been much worse were not for the strong defensive work of Morgan Collins, Luke Persanis, Xavier Worsely, Dan Biskup and North Westall.
About midway through the second half, Pelham woke up. On a turnover ball by Collins, Persanis made a quick accurate pass to Worsely who dashed through the Manhattan defense to make it 6-3. Still, it looked like too little too late. But Pelham wasn’t done. On the ensuing kickoff, Pelham’s Kees Huisman fielded the ball, ran it back past several tacklers until he was brought down. He placed the ball back for Pelham to ruck over, and that led to another quick pass from Persanis to Worsely to add the fourth try.
The next kickoff was taken by Whit Johnson, who made a long run before getting tackled. As he was being brought down, he offloaded to Worsely for another Pelham try. The next kickoff went to Huisman again and again he made Manhattan, running up the sideline with support from Collins and Dan Biskup and Matt Biskup. He was tackled and Pelham used those supporting runs to make quick passes. Worsely scored again to tie the match.
Pelham fell into complacency on the next kickoff and a miscommunication led to a Manhattan scrum on the 10-yard line. Defense led by Collins, Johnson, Westall and Nick Roll stuffed Manhattan back. That led to another Collins steal that was fed quickly to Cian Burns who offloaded in a tackle to free Roll. He sprinted down the sideline for the game winning try. Worsely scored another Pelham try to finish the game 9-7.
Man of the Match honors were shared by Worsely for all his tries and Collins for his great defensive work.
Pelham’s season ended 5-1. They look to go to their spring season as favorites having gone undefeated in league play the last two years.
Pelham Rugby is open to all kids in second through ninth grades and welcomes new players anytime.
For information call, Pelham Recreation or contact Matt Persanis at MP@elefantepersanis.com.