Torrey Pines High School defeated Cathedral Catholic 27-21 in the Southern California Rugby League High School semifinals Tuesday Cathedral Catholic High School.
In the last meeting, won three weeks ago by Torrey Pines, 24-17, Cathedral was without massive lock Joey Kuperman, who was on a football recruiting visit, and were injured High School All-American Aaron Mitchell.
This time, Torrey Pines were without some players, with center Billy Maggs on his way to join the High School All American 7s team in Las Vegas, Jacob Neeley sick, and No. 8 Dean Karam also a scratch.
Still, Torrey Pines held on.
TPHS took an early lead when Alec Mills hit a penalty kick four minutes in.
Six minutes later the Torrey Pines backs put the ball through the hands and fullback Jake Goena was on the end of the movement and scored in the corner to make it 8-0.
Torrey Pines made it 15-0 18 minutes later when flanker Jonathan Raby kicked downfield, recovered the ball, and raced in from long range. Mills hit the conversion.
Cathedral’s forwards started to make some headway late in the first half and bulled over for a try just before the break to make it 15-7.
But Torrey Pines regained the momentum with a second try from Raby, again from long range. With Mills’s kick, the score was now 22-7 for Torrey Pines.
But there was still about 34 minutes left in the game, and Cathedral got to work. Drew Gaffney punched through the defense for a try to make it 22-14. Then Kuperman capped off a series of rucks and mauls to make it 22-21 with about ten minutes to go.
Cathedral smelled blood, but Torrey Pines got the key score. A partially-blocked kick ended up in Goena’s hands, and the fullback ran 50 meters to paydirt. The try made the score 27-21, and despite Cathedral’s best efforts, that’s how the game ended.
Torrey Pines will win the top team from the North Division for the SoCal title Feb 16.