Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Second-Half Spurts Secure Two Wins for Panthers

The sixth week of Canton Middle School Rugby games were set in Dover on May 15 and the Panthers were looking to improve their overall record on the season after some uncharacteristic finishes in recent weeks. The boys from Edison put together a trio of very hard-fought, well-played matches and secured victories in two of their three bouts carried on by strong second halves.

In the first match, the Panthers, played against the Dover Red. Mason Fiegly continued to be a strong player for the Panthers in this match and scored a try in the first half to give his team five points. Damian Keumerle caught conversion the kick after the run to add two points to his team's tally. The Dover Red put in a pair of tries in response but only converted one to have a five-point lead at halftime with a score of 12-7.

The Panthers regrouped in the second half and turned up the intensity of their attacks. Fiegly scored a second try in the course of the second half. Not to be left out of the scoring action, John Haren put in a pair of tries and Jake Doyle crossed over once. Cody Ellis and Tyler Watson secured the extras after the tries. When the second half ended, the complexion of the match had totally changed and the Panthers ended up on top 33-12.

The second match pitted the Panthers against the Hartford-Oakwood Green. Fiegly was on hand again to score and opened his team's account in the first half. Carter Varner secured the  conversion kick. Hartford-Oakwood held the lead at halftime, despite the Panthers' efforts with a score of 12-7.

The Panthers were unwilling to lose to their nemesis, though, and bounced back in the second half like they had done in the day's first match. Fiegly and Ellis added tries to their team's total for the day, and Varner pulled in the final two conversion kicks to help their team overcame a first-half deficit and a tough opponent to get a 21-17 win.

The Panthers weren't able to rest on their victory against the Hartford-Oakwood Green for long, though. The two teams met again in a rematch to close out the day of competition. The Panthers played hard for the entire match, but Hartford-Oakwood proved to be too much for the Panthers. Fiegly scored two more tries in the final match, bringing his total for the day to six. Kyle Griffith and Anthony Rossetti secured the conversion kicks. but came up short, losing 19-14.

"This was another great step forward for these kids," said Coach Doug Higgins. "They fought very hard for all three matches and I am proud of them for their efforts. There is a lot of satisfaction in seeing the Panthers incorporate what they learned in practice during the matches against the rest of the league. These kids have come a long way in just a few short months."

The final week of competition in the Canton Middle School league will take place at Weis Park on Saturday, with matches starting at 10:00am. They will go into this final slate of competitions with a record 10-7-1. This weekend will be their final warm-up ahead of the Rugby Ohio Middle School State Championship tournament in Hudson on May 30.

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