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USA South Impresses in the Heat over Met NY U23s

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USA South Impresses in the Heat over Met NY U23s

USA South in blue, MetNY in red. Photos USA South Panthers.

The USA South Panthers U23s defeated the MetNY U23s 37-15 this past weekend in a clash of young select sides.

This was a 15s game and pitted players from college and just out of college. MetNY had won three games leading into this clash, which was played as a curtain-raiser for the Old Glory DC and Austin Gilgronis Major League Rugby game. 

To create the Panthers U23 team, USA Rugby South conducted an ID camp in May, in conjunction with the 404 Pathway of Rugby ATL, at Life University. A full camp of 60 players attended and many of those attending the camp made the lineup against MetNY. On Friday before the game the South players assembled for a 90 minute practice which would be the basis of Saturday's game plan and performance.  Most players had not played with each other before.

The South lost their captain, Isaac Bales (Louisville), to injury less than 10 minutes into the game. He remained on the sideline urging the team on, but that was certainly a loss.

His replacement, Jullian Skinner, was effective, running good lines and making some impressive tackles. Peter Reyes was very good with the ball in handing, drawing multiple defenders on most of his runs and setting up several tries. Defensive standout Sam Patterson continuously tackled the opposition and was a leader in the set piece. Campbell Van Rooyen stepped in as the team captain after Bales left and was a calming voice on the pitch and led by example, scoring a try in the second half.

"He did everything the team asked of him," said coach Stephen Cappello, "making a position switch mid-match from flanker to center, ran hard lines, and tackled hard and low.

"It was great for guys to come together after not playing for over a year, dust the boots off and test themselves as individuals and as a unit against great competition," said Gary Kent, who managed the team. "Having 404 Pathway coaches actively involved since an ID camp in May; sharing with this program is a big bonus for the players and coaches alike. As a pathway for future potential MLR athletes, this  experience is invaluable. These are the building blocks of a relatively new and prominent USA Rugby South U23 program led by an energetic and knowledgeable coaching staff and management team."


USA South U23s Roster:
Aaron Stephenson         University of Louisville
Alex Tomlinson        NC State University
Cameron Donlon        University of Louisville
Campbell van Rooyen    Queens U of Charlotte
Chase Suznevich        Queens U of Charlotte
Chris Bagby            Kennesaw St University
Colby Pearl            Middle Tennessee State U
Connor Murray        University of Florida
Daniel Hanson        University of Louisville
David Ebert            Nashville Rugby Club
Doyle Hedgepeth        Queens U of Charlotte
Hassan Olagunju        University of Georgia
Isaac Bales            University of Louisville
Jacob Goeppner        Austin Huns
John Thompson         Fairfield University
Jullian Skinner         Indiana University 
Justice Reeder        Kennesaw State University
Kimani Archer            Valdosta State University
Mende Carlton        NC State University
Peter Reyes            White Plains Rugby Club
Sam Patterson        Charlotte Rugby Club
Zach Marsh            Indiana University
Zane K Manley        Huntsville Rugby Club




Met NY U23s Lineup:
1. John Zeich — Kutztown University — NYAC
2. North Westall — St Bonaventure University — NYAC
3. Luke McDermott — University of Delaware — NYAC
4. Charles Overton — Penn St University
5. Yohendy Martinez — St Bonaventure University
6. Liam Anderson — Iona College
7. Tom Capriotti — Penn St University
8. Nick Lapponesse — Fairfield University
9. Luke Persanis — University of Delaware- NYAC
10. Dor Perl — University of Delaware
11. Justin Johnson — NYAC
12. Pat Stack — Fordham University
13. Joe Philips — Canisius College
14. Philip Dulock — Colgate University
15. Mike Marro — Iona College
16. Jesus Robles — St Bonaventure University
17. Reed Hammond — St Bonaventure University
18.Michael Overton — Fairfield Rugby Club
19. Matt Mitchell — Brown University
20. Justin Chatman — University of Delaware
21. Dylan Lewis — Brown University
22. Jon Kim — Brown University
23. Moriyah Tulloch — Canisius College



USA South Coaching Staff:
Zach Miller, USA Rugby South U23 Head Coach
Stephen Cappello, Fairfield University, Coach
Emil Walton, University of Louisville, Coach
Justin-Kyle Anderson, NAV 7s, Coach        
Rene Daniel, USA Rugby South Men’s Head Coach
Martini Talpusi, Rugby ATL, Guest Coach
Craig Weyer, USA Rugby South Medical
Gary Kent, Columbus/Fort Benning, Management
Kevin Kitto, USA Rugby South, Management



Manager: Anthony Nashataway (NYAC)
Head Coach: Matthew Persanis
Asst. Coach: Tim Downey (Iona College)





The game itself saw the USARS have a tough time starting in the 95-degree heat, especially with them not having had much time to get ready. The South made their way down the field and threatened early only to see a turnover result in an 85-meter run for a try for MetNY. But after that the South rallied to score four tries on the trot.

The South U23s held sway in the scrums and with their deep three counter-attacking nicely, they were able to play most of the game in the opposing half. with scrumhalves Chase Suznevich and Aaron Stephenson making smart decisions they kept the Panther attack moving. The hot weather didn't do MetNY any favors as they struggled to handle the conditions.

North Westall was a workhorse for MetNY, playing the whole game at hooker, while Luke Persanis and center Joe Phillips also played the whole game in the heat.

"We got pushed off fast," said MetNY U23 Head Coach Matt Persanis. "We learned some things and hopefully they learned something about themselves."

The South’s impact players were able to secure the match in the second half, led by impressive scrum work by Dan Hansen and open field defense by Doyle Hedgepeth. Fullback Jacob Goeppner was outstanding, counter-attacking on the MetNY kicks and keeping the New York team bottled in their half. The South second row pairing of Zane Manley and Zach Marsh put in a full 80 minutes. Marsh carried the ball well and scored. Manley, in his first full year of rugby, continues to develop nicely.