KATONAH, N.Y. -- The Harvey School’s boys rugby team captured a state title Sunday with a hard fought 50-31 victory over Hamburg Rugby Club in the Tier 2 Rugby New York State Championship Game on the campus of SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica.
The Cavaliers (11-3) beat the Syracuse Silverbacks, 46-12, in Saturday's semifinal. Hamburg won its semifinal by 36 points.
Harvey’s backs broke through in the second minute of play. John Jay High School’s Reed Feldman found the tryzone for the Cavaliers and senior captain Christian Artuso of Katonah converted to give Harvey a seven-point advantage. The Cavaliers kept the pressure on the upstate ruggers, and following a break from Ilam Gressel, Artuso found Charlie Seider who punched in Harvey’s second score. Artuso converted, giving his team an early 14- point lead.
After a Hamburg core, Harey answered on a 40-meter run by Fedlman followed by a score from Artuso. Hamburg trimmed the lead to 19-12 at haltime.
In the second half, Gressel of the Hackley School, broke free in the 36th minute and went off to the races on an 82-meter run to give Harvey a two try lead at 26-12. It looked like the tide was turning Hamburg’s way as the western New York team scored consecutive tries in the 40th and 43rd minute to tie the match at 26 points.
With the championship in the balance the Harvey ruggers dug deep. In the 46th minute, the forwards, led by Christian Harrington, Kieran O’Connor and Jay Handler, pressured the Hamburg pack. The ball found Harvey’s backs and the efforts of inside-center Feldman were rewarded as he touched down to regain the lead. Seven minutes later, Harrington gave the Cavaliers some breathing room as he crashed through the Hamburg defense to find points and increase Harvey’s lead to 12 points.
After a Hamburg score, Artuso found a gap and touched down with seven minutes remaining. With victory in Harvey’s grasp, the Cavaliers buckled down on defense and Feldman, Harrington, Rob Palladino and Mahopac High School freshman Kole Dokaj thwarted any forward movement by Hamburg. Harvey closed the match and sealed the victory with a try in the 67th minute by junior reserve forward Bradley Fennel to cap the scoring.
“The effort and display of high level rugby was amazing,'' coach Phil Lazzaro said. "The crowd support was phenomenal all weekend and the support helped the boys throughout the match. We witnessed an amazing and memorable season and I cannot wait to start training to defend our state title.”