MATCH REPORT: September 23, 2017 @ Greensburg Maulers
This past weekend, the Highlanders headed to Greensburg, PA to take on the Greensburg Maulers. After high temperatures the Saturday before, everyone was hoping for some more September-like weather. Instead, both teams were confronted with blue skies and temperatures in the mid-80s, setting up testing conditions. Coming off a large win over South Pittsburgh, the Highlanders were confident they’d be off to a quick start and be able to dominate throughout.
However, things didn’t quite go as planned. Although dominating possession in the first 10 minutes, the Highlanders were unable to penetrate the Maulers’ defense. There were some strong carriers from the likes of Michael Boyd (Cal U) in the forwards and Patrick Dobbins (UPJ) in the backs, but there were too many handling errors and lateral running on a narrow pitch to keep the pressure on. The Maulers defended stoutly and brought the ball back down the field strongly. The game see-sawed throughout the first half, with both teams unable to penetrate the opposition’s defensive line, however, in the 32nd minute it was the Maulers who struck first after sustained pressure to take a 7 – 0 lead.
This try seemed to be the kick in the teeth that the Highlanders needed. They marched back down the field with a renewed emphasis on straight running and maintaining possession. Andrew Chapman touched down first and replacement fullback Scott Powers (UPJ) soon after. At the stroke of half time, the Highlanders held on to a tight 10-7 lead.
With stronger, straight carriers from the likes of Neil Reynolds (UPJ) and Nick Ertiz (Cal U), the Highlanders scored twice more within the first 9 minutes of the second half. The Highlanders then started to go to their depth off the bench and were able to bring on impact substitutes Dan Andrus, Tyler Sparkman and Blayze Richardson (Cal U). Sparkman was able to make a solid impact, dotting down for two tries of his own. The final score, 39-7 to the Highlanders.
It was a determined effort by the Maulers and a hard fought win for the Highlanders. The Highlanders were happy to have Nate Hoellman, wing, back from injury, and were excited to be able to give scrumhalf Jurnee Wilson (Cal U) his first start. Journeyman Bill Marnell (Cal U) made an impact as always coming off the bench and he helped to continue the dominance of the scrum that was led by props Jeff Muha and Brendan Crifaci (SRU).
The Highlanders have a bye week before starting the second half of the season where they play Pitt City, South Pitt and Greensburg again. After that, the winner of the “South” division will play the winner of the “North” division (Cleveland Crusaders, Cleveland Rovers, Presque Isle, Akron) to see who will go through to playoffs.
First XV: 1 – Crifaci; 2 – Eritz; 3 – Muha; 4 – Chapman; 5 – Benvenuti; 6 – Reaghard; 7 – David; 8 – Boyd; 9 – Wilson; 10 – Zangaro; 11 – Zapf; 12 – Reynolds; 13 – Dobbins; 14 – Hoellman; 15 – Glasstetter
Reserves: 16 – Andrus; 17 – Marnell; 18 – Sparkman; 19 – Shearer; 20 – Powers; 21 – Richardson; 22 – Hebert; 23 – Fazekas
Substitutions: 33’ – Powers for Glasstetter (IJ); 46’ – Sparkman for Benvenuti (TC), Andrus for Crifaci (TC); 55’ – Richardson for Zapf (TC); 65’ – Shearer for Chapman (TC), Hebert for Hoellman (TC); 68’ – Marnell for Eritz (TC); 76’ – Fazekas for Reaghard (TC)
Referee: Alex Gralia (ARURS)
Tries: Chapman (1, 2); Dobbins (3); Powers (1, 2); Sparkman (1, 2)
Conversions: Powers (2/7)
Man of the Match: Devin Zangaro (1)