Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

St. Ignatius Wins Battle with Moeller for Ohio Crown

irish rugby tours

St. Ignatius Wins Battle with Moeller for Ohio Crown

St. Ignatius on the attack. Alex Goff photo.

St. Ignatius won the 2021 Rugby Ohio Boys Super Elite final defeated a dogged Moeller HS side 22-8 Saturday night at Fortess Obetz in the Columbus area.

In a game that seemed to be on a knife edge the whole way, Ignatius took its scoring chances slightly better than Moeller, the Cincinnati side kept the result in doubt until the very end.

Moeller started the game with a clear plan to hit St. Ignatius hard, and to do it in the St. Ignatius half.

When Moeller had ball they booted it deep and put Ignatius under pressure, but through the first several minutes of the game Ignatius handled the pressure well enough and their forwards got to the breakdown in sufficient numbers so no ballcarrier was left isolated.

The dam broke about ten minutes in when Moeller jumped early in their own lineout. The result was a free kick to Ignatius, which then resulted in a kick ahead and a good follow-up tackle that gave Ignatius a lineout. From there they attacked wide and then the forwards went to work near the goal line and they were over on a pick-and-go—prop Chris Speelman doing the honors.

Moeller replied instantly, with scrumhalf Brennan Morton Strauss restarting with a planned grubber that he himself recovered. Moeller pressured, got a penalty, and wing Danny Koturba put it over to make it 5-3. But that little momentum shift didn’t last as Moeller lost the ball in a ruck just moments later and the rock squirted out to wing Timmy Putka, who just pinned his ears back and was gone. Bobby Voth was good on the conversion and it was 12-3.

It was almost 17-3 when center Marty Lenehen picked up at the base of the ruck and made it well into the Moeller 22. This time, however, the Ignatius forwards weren’t able to secure the ball as they went for the line and Moeller turned it over and escaped.

With about three minutes left in the half Moeller ran a well-executed scissor move and was through for 40 meters. But the Ignatius cover defense was there, while the Moeller support was not, and Ignatius got out of it thanks to a holding-on penalty. So Ignatius was able to take a lineout near halfway, make a couple of half-breaks, and finally take a penalty for offside that Voth put over from about 15 meters. That made it 15-3, and the end of the first half.

Everything was static until six minutes into the second half when Lenehan broke through, somehow offloaded to Joey Georges who fed Putka for the wing's second. Putka credited the coaching from Head Coach Dan Arbeznik.

"Coach Bez always drills us that when we have a break we run good support lines so it's kind of a natural instinct to be there," said Putka. 

Nevertheless it was a very nicely-taken try and a big one, because Moeller started to make inroads. The center pairing of of Carson Smith and James Gerkin produced some chances, and with flyhalf Tony Mock getting them field position and the forwards consolidating, they looked very close to scoring. Moeller had a 3-on-1 but squandered it, which hurt them, but finally they got over the line. Mock ran a superb loop play and was through in the corner and it was 22-8.

Moeller runners continued to make Ignatius tacklers miss, but the Wildcats covered desperately, and then late in the game they finally found some territory to attack in the Moeller end. No try, but time ticked off the clock. Eventually Moeller just didn't have enough time.

"They used the wind well in the first half but at 15-3 we were quite happy to have that score at halftime," said Arbeznik. "But I don't think we did a very good job of kicking out of our end in the second half. We just made the decision that we were going to try to run it out. We had some scoring opportunities but big credit to Moeller for getting those turnovers when they really needed them. They ran right through us on a number of occasions, we had bodies there but they're really hard runners and we bounced off the tackles."

But the cover tacklers were there. Putka had his big moments that were crucial, but in an interesting twist the award Ignatius gives for its defensive grinder went to flyhalf Bobby Voth. With the center pairing of Lenehan and Georges making several half-breaks, it was often up to the flyhalf to be the first one there to secure possession. For Moeller, Morton Strauss was brilliant at scrumhalf and kept the rhythm going for his team. 

It was that kind of game. Moeller, despite the loss, proved themselves to be a team of some quality. Ignatius did what they came to Obetz to do, and now look to Kansas City and a date with the National Championships.

St. Ignatius 22
Tries: Putka 2, Speelman
Convs: Voth 2
Pens: Voth 

Moeller 8
Tries: Mock
Pens: Koturba