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Wild second half comeback makes for one heck of a junior semi-final
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The senior boys high-school football crew have nothing on the juniors when it comes to enjoying a flair for the dramatic - at least not in the fall of 2022.

Though both junior semi-final games were more than competitive, the afternoon table-setter was an absolute treat. Bolting to a 22-0 lead at the half, the Lively Hawks hung on at the end, trimming the St Benedict Bears 22-20 at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

Quarterback Ian MacDonald ran for a pair of majors and running back Aiden Fauteux darted in for another as the Hawks, finishing fourth at 1-3 only due to a pair of forfeits sustained via the use of an inelligible player, looked nearly unstoppable heading to the break.

"I think we knew that we could run the ball outside with them - and it worked," noted MacDonald, as kicker Koen Palmquist added a huge single and three converts to the mix.

The opening score that came via a punt that travelled a good forty yards plus would come in handy when a Paolo Grossi led comeback - the Jr Spartans summer football star ran for a pair of touchdowns while seldom if ever leaving the field - made things interesting.

Grossi's first major, followed in rapid succession by an on-side kick recovery and a TD from Dylan Bertin, reduced a comfortable advantage to just eight points, with still more to come from the Bears multi-purpose athlete who the Hawks know all too well.

"You just try and be aware where he (Grossi) is and where his movements are and try and beat him on every play," said MacDonald. Definitely not the easiest of tasks, with Grossi enjoying the upper-hand in the regular season match-up, returning a long interception for the game-winning score.

This time around, it was MacDonald sprinting outside for a key first down in the final minutes, the young pivot getting his first chance at learning how to deal with the late game pressure.

"My confidence and my running game have improved so much from last year, using my legs and my speed," he said. "At the end, you have to watch the clock and take your time, use the clock to your advantage to win the game."

As for the feeling around the team following the forfeited victories, MacDonald was not able to let it torpedo the season. "Some of the kids were upset about it, but some of us leaders told them to use it to our advantage, to try even harder and go win a championship."

Come Saturday afternoon, the Hawks will have the chance to do just that, facing a St Charles College Cardinals that flipped the script on the Lasalle Lancers, making amends for a 7-0 regular season loss with a 23-14 post-season win.

Daine Kutchaw-Taylor and Hayden Walsh both reached the end zone for the winners before Braxton Ragogna accounted for his team's final 11 points, scoring a touchdown, adding a pair of PATs along with a field goal.

Replying in a losing cause for the Lancers were Mason McLaughlin and Dash Kamal, both with majors, and Kurtis Werbowsky, who was credited with a safety touch.

Game time for the Saturday final is set for 1:00 p.m. at the James Jerome Sports Complex.

Greater Sudbury Soccer Club