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  • Writer's picturetgardner1167

Canisius Edges Kenmore

When the final whistle blew, the Canisius ruby players were overjoyed and ran to the middle of the field to celebrate.

Canisius captain Jack Wiles may have put it best when describing what it meant to beat Kenmore.

“If I could describe this it’s like Canisius beating St. Joe’s in anything,” Wiles said.

Wiles and the Crusaders upset their rivals, previously undefeated Kenmore Rugby Club, 31-26 in a back-and-fourth affair that came down to final minutes of the game in WNY High School Rugby action.

Canisius got to work early. The Crusaders brought the ball all the way down to the goal line just four minutes into the game. It appeared Kenmore had stopped their momentum as they came up with a turnover just inches before the line, but the Crusaders got it back a few moments later. Doar Doar got the game’s first score on a try to for the Crusaders.

Later in the half, Kenmore was able to match. They got the ball all the way down to the goal line and lost it. Kenmore got the ball right back and Joe Stewart took in for a try. Josh Smith made the conversion to give Kenmore the 7-5 lead, with 15 minutes left in the first half.

As the half began to wind down, the play began to pick up. Kenmore’s Noah Emminger scored a try with six minutes to go. Crusader Victor Zurowski got a try two and half minutes later to cut the Kenmore lead to two.

Canisius’ John Minogue had a big run slashing through defenders which set a up another Doar try. Jake Militello scored on the conversion to give the Crusaders a 17-12 lead at halftime.

Kenmore took control of the game to begin the second half. As soon they got the ball off the kickoff, Kenmore either held possession or kept Canisius from getting beyond the half way line for the first 13 minutes of the second half.

“Both teams were struggling with field position,” Canisius head coach Nick Maurer said. “They gave our back end some trouble off their kicks.”

Kenmore finally cashed in as Smith cased down and grabbed a free kick and then took it all the way for the try. He capped it off by successfully completing the conversion to give Kenmore the 19-17 lead.

Smith will continue his rugby career at St. Bonaventure next year.

In the game’s final 15 minutes the two teams went back and forth. Wiles scored a try and Militello converted, giving Canisius the 24-19 lead. Chris Schiavone got a try and Smith converted again to give Kenmore back the lead 26-24.

The Crusaders then pushed through and Reese Fiate scored the game winning try.

Kenmore head coach Bill Conrad gave it up to Canisius who had had a lot of speed on the outside and were able to take advantage of his team’s mishaps.

“Canisius was able to get the ball out wide using their space,” Conrad said. “We made some mistakes and they capitalized.”

Despite the loss, Conrad was proud of the way his team played.

“I told them ‘Thank you’ after the game. They did everything we asked of them,” Conrad said. “They left everything out on the field.”

There was still eight minutes left in the game for Kenmore to come back but that was when the Crusader defense stood its tallest. They held Kenmore out the of goal until finally taking the ball away and bringing it into their own end for the final minute of the game.

Leading the defensive stand for Canisius was none other than their captain, Wiles.

According to Maurer he expects nothing less from the senior.

“Wiles has been a two-year captain for us,” Maurer said. “He’s a great all-around player for us. He makes sure the guys are focused. Every defensive stand he is there getting his nose dirty making tackles.”

For Wiles, Friday night will go down as the most memorable moment in his high school athletic career.

“All the blood, sweat and tears, all the work we’ve done over the past four years really paid off in this game. I can stay that for certainly the seniors and probably the rest of the team.” Wiles said. “It’s a big one.”

Even though the Crusaders had lost 21-0 earlier in the year, Maurer and his team believed they had a shot on Friday night.

“This has been circled on our calendar the entire year,” Maurer said. “We came into this knowing that we could compete. We fought hard for 70 minutes.”

This year is the first time in program history that Canisius beat both Kenmore and Fairport.

The Crusaders are now 3-1-1 this season, while Kenmore falls to 4-1.

Kenmore and Canisius will both advance to the State finals, being the top two teams in the Western Division I. The state finals will be the weekend of June 3rd and 4th at SUNY Binghamton.

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