Gaels Dominate with Three Touch Football Titles

Gaels Dominate with Three Consecutive Touch Football Titles
Posted on 05/30/2024
Flag Football

By Larry Moko

It’s a three-peat in cleats for the Cathedral Gaels.

For the third consecutive year the Gaels captured the girls’ high school touch football tournament championship.

Cathedral defeated the host St. Thomas More Knights, 7-0, in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic title game Tuesday.

In addition, the Gaels have gone undefeated during their three-year reign.

“They really rose to the occasion,” Cathedral coach Anthony Tassone said of his players. “They like to compete and they don’t like to lose.

“The whole league has gotten better and we forced their hand at that. Everybody has stepped up and our girls stepped up even further to compete.”

This was the ninth year for one-hand touch. Semifinals earlier in the day Tuesday saw Cathedral defeat the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals, 24-0, and More edge the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 6-0, on a 30-yard interception return for a score by Sadie D’Angela.

The Cathedral-More contest was scoreless at the half. But on their first possession of the second half, the Gaels marched down the field. First, it was a 20-yard gainer from quarterback Keira Daly to Maria Atanasoaei, then a 12-yard pass reception by Carolina Munn followed by another 10-yard pickup by receiver Rachel Daly.

That put the ball at the 1-yard line and from there it was Daly to Daly (Keira to Rachel) in the end zone for a touchdown.

A one-point conversion – from the 5-yard line – capped the scoring. The pass was hauled in by Alaina Bigford.

“They were doubling Nicole (Daly) who scored many of our touchdowns in the other games,” Rachel said. “Me and the other receivers had to step up and catch some because we were more open.”

Twin sisters Keira and Nicole, along with their cousin, Rachel, have been members of the team for three years. The twins will be moving on to play university basketball out west for the UBC Thunderbirds in the fall while Rachel joins the Western University Mustangs women’s basketball team in London.

That trio, while playing hoops for Cathedral, won three consecutive OFSAA championships. And those teams strung together an amazing 90-game winning streak.

“I love playing touch football,” Rachel said. “All the players are super nice. We get along really well. And it’s fun to win, of course.”

Tassone says all the Cathedral receivers are talented and the QB has a strong throwing arm.

“When you have someone like Nicole that attracts that much attention, it makes it easier for everybody else,” he said. “Rachel was a key component at key times. Keira knew to check off from her No. 1 and go to her No. 2 which was Rachel.”

Defensively, Keira and Atanasoaei picked off passes for the Gaels while Knights quarterback Jen DeMedeiros intercepted a pass when she went two ways.

More coach Rob Fuciarelli was pleased with his team’s performance. “We had a really good game against a fantastic team,” he said. “Cathedral is unbelievable.”

More’s overall record this season was 5-2 – both losses to Cathedral.

“They are phenomenal athletes,” Fuciarelli said of the Daly sisters. “They dominate all the sports they play (basketball, badminton, touch football). And on top of being great players, they are great kids. Their sportsmanship is amazing. Even our girls have talked about that.”

The Knights got a 28-yard gain on a pass from DeMedeiros to Grace Ammendolia late in the game but an interception ended that last-gasp attempt to score.

Other Cathedral players included Ciana Shea, Katherine Wilson, Deborah Olatunji, Emma Vivian, Franchez Benji, Lauren Daly, Angelina Medeiros, Beatrice Clausen, Gloria Sika Kampia, Valentina Munn, Jaxson Gooch, Kiara Slowly and Ellaiva Dacosta.

In last week’s boys’ touch final, the Bishop Tonnos Titans held on for a 20-19 win over the Bishop Ryan Celtics. It was Tonnos’ second-ever championship and second in a row.

The Celtics scored on the second-last play but failed to convert the two-point conversion. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the Titans ran the ball out of the end zone and the game ended.

“There was a lot of parity in the tournament,” convener Fuciarelli of More said. “The championship game came down to one point and we (the Knights) had previously beaten Tonnos, 14-0.”

Photos by Bob Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

More photos on the HWCDSB Athletics Facebook page here

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