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Xavier High School moved into the Single-School Boys NIT semis with a 29-3 defeat of Greenwich Thursday, a game that Xavier never felt completely comfortable in.
"We didn't make many substitutions," said Xavier Head Coach Joe Sweeney. "Greenwich is very dangerous and I think we wanted to be absolutely sure. We also were bringing back some players from injury and wanted them to get some game time."
Sweeney was very complimentary of Greenwich, but complimented his own squad, also.
"We're happy with the performance and especially limiting them to just one penalty," said Sweeney. "They are a tough team and I think they will do very well in the rest of the tournament. Our guys did well - we don't have a lot of superstars, but what we do have is a group that plays for each other."
Xavier No. 8 Mike Marino was outstanding for his squad on both offense and defense, and, added Sweeney, "our back row has been the heart of our team."
Xavier will play longtime rivals Jesuit of Sacramento in the semis on Friday. Jesuit took care of business against Brownsburg 47-7.
Meanwhile, in the other side of the single-school bracket, Penn High School defeated St. Thomas Aquinas 32-17.
"St. Thomas really were tough in the scrum and stole a few from us," said Penn Head Coach Bart Bottorff. "They are very physical. But our guys played a good game - probably one of our better games of rugby this season."
No. 8 Inoke Moala scored two tries - a little below his per-game average but an indication of his solid player all season. Moala's father played for Tonga, and Moala the younger is a top DI college football prospect.
Scrumhalf Loren McSorley was a leader for Penn at the base of the ruck and scrum, and also kicked well.
Penn will play a Gonzaga team that got an interesting scare. The DC team led 32-3 before Notre Dame de la Salette came back and got within six at 32-26, bolstering the Illinois team's reputation for never, ever giving up no matter what the odds.
Gonzaga did indeed win the game, and will look to Friday with an eye toward putting a game away early and making sure it stays put away. Against Penn, a team they know well and have played to a virtual standstill a couple of times, it will be difficult in the extreme.