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Aquinas Impresses with Shutout of Rivals

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Aquinas Impresses with Shutout of Rivals

St. Thomas Aquinas of Kansas defeated their longtime cross-border rivals Kansas City Junior Blues 15-0 Saturday in wet, unpleasant conditions.

Aquinas struggled to get out of their own way a little bit in the first half, and entered the break up 3-0 thanks to a penalty goal from Sam Gasparovich. But, said Head Coach Tim Kluempers, it could have been more.

"We were up a man due to a yellow card, and we weren't smart with the ball, and tried to run it out of our own 22, and that just put us under a lot of pressure," said Kluempers. On the plus side, his team held the Blues out to keep their slim lead.

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In the second half, Aquinas started to move the ball a little more successfully despite the slow, muddy footing, and Shawn Doherty raced in to score, with Gasparovich slotting the conversion. And then it was a case of closing out the game. Aquinas put the Blues under pressure in their own 22, and that pressure forced an errant pass in-goal, and flanker Steven Rohde pounced on the loose ball to score and make it 15-0.

On the day, Rohde was a one-man wrecking crew, poaching ball, making tackles, and overall being a pest. He was named player of the game.

"We did have a lot of handling errors, but when we started to demonstrate our skills we did well," said Kluempers. "And to shut out the Blues - our main rivals - was nice."

Aquinas won comfortably over Shawnee Mission East before Spring Break and then earlier this week defeated Blue Valley 34-5. But this was a different level of game.

"What really pleased me was the team's moxie and tenacity," said Kluempers.