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Crusaders' rugby title quest ends in hard-fought loss to Linn Benton

Local girls team gets within three before losing in the end


by: JOHN BREWINGTON - The Crusaders' Victoria Horecky broke free from this group tackle and would score several times for the team in their match with Linn Benton last Saturday.The Columbia County Crusaders showed a lot of grit in battling back from a 17-point deficit to within three points in a state semifinal rugby match at Delta Park on Saturday

The local girls had a great season going, but some late losses spoiled their unbeaten streak and left them number two in the division going into the playoffs.

The Crusaders were determined to right the ship, but it didn’t look good as they gave up three quick trys and a conversion to Linn Benton at the outset of the match. They trailed 17-0 after the first 20 minutes.

The momentum shifted back and forth, but the Crusaders twice got to within three points late in the match, before finally losing 47-39.

Inside center Kayleigh Horecky helped stem the tide with a breakaway for the first Crusader try. Her sister Victoria Horecky then took the ball in open space and went in for another try. It was a 17-10 match. Linn Benton bounced back with two scores from their forwards and led 27-10.

Coach Ashley Baggett had a talk with her charges during the break. Just minutes into the second half, flanker Molly Eisenschmidt scored, and eight man Jackie Asher added a conversion and it was a 27-17 match. Linn Benton came right back and put in another try for a 32-17 lead.

“The match went back and forth,” Baggett said. “The Crusaders were not willing to give up, were able to utilize the speed of the Horecky sisters and each of them took the ball out wide and ran it in for a try.”

The contest was 32-27 and the Crusaders were just a try away from tying the match.by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Kayleigh Horecky also played a big role in the Crusaders success this season.

Linn Benton scored to make it a 10-point lead, but the Crusaders kicked the ball off and were able to regain possession. Kayleigh Horecky scored four minutes later and Asher again converted. All of a sudden it was just a three-point match.

Linn Benton would push the ball down the field for another try, but Victoria Horecky wasn’t touched in a quick response.

The Crusaders needed a try, got possession and were working the ball downfield. A penalty stymied the comeback, gave Linn Benton the ball and they scored again just before the final whistle.

“It was a high scoring match for a playoff game,” Baggett said. “Both teams worked extremely hard to progress to the Division 2 championships. The Crusaders have come a long way and have had an excellent season.”

The Crusaders have one more match on the season. They play the Valley Panthers for third at the Baker Prairie Middle School at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.