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St. Ignatius 22 Royal Irish 21

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St. Ignatius 22 Royal Irish 21

St. Ignatius of Cleveland edged Royal Irish of Indianapolis 22-21 Saturday in a game between the #1 single-school team and the #2 HS club team.

It was a game where Royal Irish spent large periods in control of the run of play, but failed to get the tries they needed at the crucial moments.

The two teams battled each other in the early going, but Royal Irish took a lead 15 minutes in with a penalty goal from scrumhalf Jake Christmann. St. Ignatius replied when fullback Alex Chura fielded a kick at midfield and countered toward the right-hand corner. He made it and Ignatius led 5-3. Royal Irish came right back to put on some pressure and, with another Christmann penalty goal, led 6-5. Right before halftime, one more penalty from the Royal Irish scrumhalf made it 9-5.

But for some soft defense on that counter, Royal Irish might have been in control.

With the wind at their backs for the second half, St. Ignatius scored early with a penalty from center Chris Fedor. But Royal Irish replied with their first try of the game, as fullback Jackson Sherby raced in. It stayed 16-8 until the 64th minute, when St. Ignatius hooker Tommy Lavelle powered through from five meters out to make it, with Fedor’s kick, 16-15. 

Royal Irish exploited an overlap to put Jack Kafka away to make it 21-15 a minute later. And then off the restart, Ignatius center Aidan Gill intercepted a Royal Irish pass and raced in under the posts. Fedor converted and it was 22-21.

Royal Irish won the restart and earned three penalties but didn’t kick for touch. With the wind too strong to risk a kick at goal, they tapped and ran and made it down to the Ignatius line. A long defensive stand ensued, and then Ignatius No. 8 Sean Soeder and lock Josef O'Brien caught a ball carrier and held him up. Once the maul stalled, the game was over.

Royal Irish will be frustrated in having so much ball and not being able to put the game away. Penalties and errors certainly hurt them.

“I thought we played well enough to win but made some critical mistakes and St. Ignatius capitalized on them,” said Royal Irish Head Coach Scott Peterson.

Ignatius did well to contain the big Royal Irish runners, and some significant improvement in their lineouts and scrums. they were able to get more ball.

Ignatius Head Coach Dan Arbeznik credited assistant Nick DiPietro for his working on fixing the team’s set piece.

Both teams saw important players leave early due to injury. Sean Whalen stepped in at flyhalf for Ignatius when Matt lipaj was hurt. 

“We'll need our underclassmen to step up,” said Arbeznik.