The second annual Jesuit Rugby Classic, co-hosted by Georgetown Prep and Gonzaga for the benefit of the Washington Jesuit Academy, was won by Gonzaga, defeating Xavier High School 22-5 in the championship. This was the second year in a row that the Eagles had met the defending national champions in the final.
The weekend tournament was played at Georgetown Prep, which boasts one of the finest pitches in the country. Gonzaga defeated St Paul’s from Winnipeg (46-0) and Fairfield Prep from Connecticut (27-0) on its way to the final. Xavier defeated Dallas Jesuit (10-3) and McQuaid Jesuit from upstate New York (14-5) to advance.
The final opened with Xavier maintaining possession and running a series of crash balls. The Eagle defense was up to the task all day making tackle after tackle without yielding a line break. After gaining possession, Gonzaga drove a lineout to the one-yard line, which was followed by a pick-and-go by Dan Collins for the first score of the game.
Later in the first half, after a series of phases and good ball thru the hands by the backs, Gonzaga sent wing Sam LaPaille on a powerful run up the gut for a 40-yard try to bring the score to 10-0. With five minutes left in the half, the Eagles had an overlap that Tony Dattoli’s perfect pass found wing Michael Comizio, who took it 60 yards for a try under the posts making the score 17-0, which would be the halftime score.
Xavier seemed to regain momentum in the beginning of the second half but was consistently thwarted by the Gonzaga defense of the back rowers Connor Whitcomb, Jimmy Rippert and Nelson Gomes. After a ruck at the wing, Jack McAuliffe picked up a loose ball near the touch line, chipped it ahead, chased and tackled the Xavier fullback at the two-yard line. McAuliffe poached the ball and dove into the try zone for the final Gonzaga score, bringing the count to 22-0.
Xavier intercepted a pass late in the game and took the ball to the Gonzaga five-yard line. After sustaining pressure for several phases, Xavier powered in on a pick-and-go to close out the scoreline at 22-5. Gonzaga’s tight five of Guy LoPresti, Conor Squier, Dan Collins, Joe Whalen and Brendan Johnson consistently won the tackle contest by turning over Xavier ball many times. Danny Flynn led the backs in defense. Freshman flyhalf Ben Cima, filling in for injured Dylan Cunningham, distributed the ball flawlessly all day.