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The Cathedral Royal Irish's 14-0 victory in the Boys HS Club NIT was a tough battle, but that was OK, Cathedral is used to it.
The Indianapolis team won their second NIT in three years by beating three
Californian teams by an average of nine points - Sierra Foothills 24-17,
Danville 12-7, and Santa Monica 14-0.
All through Cathedral's ball control and defense held sway. The Royal Irish took an early lead when scrumhalf Michael Fleck zipped over, and prop Connor Dykhuizen added another, exemplifying the strong work in right that has often characterized Cathedral play.
But after that it was a game where neither team gave much ground at all, and the second half ended as the first half did, 14-0.
"We played three Californian teams and knew our first two games were going to be extremely physically demanding," said Cathedral Head Coach Scott Peterson. "And they were. Our players put their bodies on the line time after time, defensively, which was directly responsible for winning the semifinal and the final."
Santa Monica was patient and athletic and boast a superb driving maul, but somehow Cathedral kept them out.
"They have an ability to move the ball aorund the field and play a good tactical game," said Peterson. "I think we were the better team on the day, but it was only a few opportunities that we took advantage of that determined the outcome."
Cathedral likely weren't the biggest team not the fastest in the HS Club NIT, but they were the one that played their pattern the best and played most as a unit.
"We take extreme pride in that," said Peterson, who used only 17 players through the weekend. "This was an extremely rewarding tournament for us."
Meanwhile, Santa Monica can look at their tournament with pride, as they upended Charlotte and San Diego and were very strong up front, especially with Conor Lydon.
Danville, who lost to Cathedral by just one try, beat San Diego for 3rd.
Perhaps the biggest upset of the weekend was San Diego's 42-29 defeat of the Kansas City Jr. Blues. KC rebounded to beat Charlotte and then defending champs United to take 5th.