Gaels in Championship Game
By James Nelson
For the championship of the Battle of the Bay tournament, the Gaels knew they would be in for a tough challenge. They faced Central Washington who, like the Gaels, was 5-0 in the tournament entering the championship. Although the game would eventually prove to be the tough contest everyone expected, it was anything but for the majority of the first ten minutes or so.
After receiving the kick, the Gaels’ Loyd Evans broke free for a long run down the left sideline. After several more phases that got nowhere, Chase Herring got free on the sideline and as he was tackled offloaded to Cooper Maloney who took it in for the try. After a missed conversion made the score 5-0, the Gaels stole the ball from Central Washington and once again drove into Washington’s territory thanks to a great pop kick by Joey Reavey. After he attempted a second kick that ended up going out of bounds, Central Washington was awarded a scrum. The Gaels blew Washington off the ball however, and after regaining possession, Maloney used a dummy fake to break through once again and make the game 10-0. The Gaels made another great defensive play on the next kickoff, with Garrett Brewer stealing the ball and offloading to Evans who took it in for the Gaels third try of the match. Down 15-0, Central Washington had their first good attack phase of the day but a great tackle by Reavey put them back on their heels. Brewer then came in with a great counter-ruck to get possession back for the Gaels. After driving into Central Washington territory a forward pass resulted in another Central Washington scrum. Washington was called for collapsing the scrum however, and off the free kick Reavey made another perfect pop kick that he recovered in the try zone to put the Gaels up 20-0. He then also made the conversion to make the score 22-0 at the half.
In the second half the Gaels once again came out on the attack and forced Central Washington into more mistakes. After Washington dropped a pass deep in their own territory, the Gaels capitalized by scooping up the ball and passing it out to Brewer who ran down the left sideline for yet another try to make the score 27-0. The game turned a minute later however, when Reavey was called for a high tackle and given a yellow card. Forced to play a man down, the Gaels’ defense finally caved in and two quick tries by Central Washington made the score 27-14. After Reavey returned, the Gaels still looked unsteady as they struggled to regain their lost momentum. Just as it looked as if Central Washington might be able to make a serious run at a comeback, the Gaels made one last great play to seal the victory. After a Central Washingotn player was tackled into touch, the Gaels ran a short lineout to Mark Bowers and were able to get the ball into open space. Eventually Augie Heath took the ball to around midfield and after being tackled, made a great offload to Mason Colombo who streaked down the middle for the try to put the game out of reach. Central Washington scored one more meaningless try but the game would end with the score 32-19. With the win, the Gaels finished the tournament 6-0 and captured the tournament championship which guarantees them entry into the Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championship, held November 23-24 in Greensborough, North Carolina.
Saint Mary's faced Cal in the Semi -Finals
By James Nelson
After dispatching of Cal Poly in Sunday morning’s quarterfinal match. St. Mary’s faced a very familiar opponent in the semifinals of the Battle of the Bay Tournament. Cal, who the Gaels had lost to in the semifinals of the Cal Poly tournament two weeks ago, came into the game riding high. They had the best point differential of any team in the tournament through four games and had the psychological advantage over the Gaels by being the only team to beat them thus far this season.
Early on it looked very much like Cal might add a second win over the Gaels to their total. Off the opening kick Cal immediately began to attack the Gaels side to side, starting from the right side and then going all the way wide to the left and back again. After advancing the ball to around the St. Mary’s 40 meter line, a Cal player faked the outside pitch and instead threw the inside scissor ball. The play worked to perfection as the Bear’s player ran in untouched for the try. Cal missed the conversion however to make the score 5-0 Bears. The Gaels then received the ball on the kick but went backwards before a turnover by Holden Youngert gave Cal the ball inside of 10 meters. Cal immediately took the ball in straight off the ruck, taking the Gaels by surprise and giving themselves a two try lead. Down 10-0, St. Mary’s responded with Bubba Jones having a long run off the kickoff before a missed pass created a scrum opportunity. St. Mary’s won the ball in the scrum and Garrett Brewer took the ball down the left side for the try. Joey Reavey kicked in the conversion to make the score 10-7.
Next came perhaps the most important sequence of the game. Cal drove the ball down deep inside St. Mary’s territory when a Gaels penalty gave Cal a free reset close to the goal line. St. Mary’s recovered beautifully to force the turnover but the ref ruled they were not 10 meters back and gave the ball back to Cal. Just as it looked as if the Bears might punch in another try to give themselves a commanding lead St. Mary’s came up with a huge stop, holding the ball up in the try zone to prevent the score. For several more tense seconds, Cal tried to attack the Gaels but St. Mary’s held strong until a knock-on by Cal ended the half with the score 10-7.
The second half opened with St. Mary’s getting great field position off a bad kick by the Bears. Cal’s kick did not travel 10 meters and the Gaels got a free kick in Cal territory. They immediately attacked Cal down the field with Youngert eventually taking it in for the go-ahead try. Reavey then made another huge conversion to make the score 14-10. The Gaels then regained possession off of the kick but Loyd Evans knocked the ball on resulting in a Cal scrum. The Gaels were able to win the scrum however, and Kevin O’Conner took it in from 40 meters out for the third try of the day. Yet another clutch conversion by Reavey made the score 21-10 with very little time remaining. Regardless Cal did not give up and an ill-advised pass by the Gaels led to one more Cal score. This made the score 21-17, but as soon as they received the ensuing kickoff the Gaels kicked the ball straight out of bounds to officially end the game. Thanks to this come from behind victory the Gaels earned the right to play Central Washington in the championship game.
Saint Mary's vs. Western Washington
By James Nelson
In their third match of the day the Gaels faced Western Washington. As impressive as their first two matches of the day were, this was by far their most complete and impressive game of the day.
The Gaels started off the game making several changes to the starting line-up, including Mark Bowers and Kevin O’Conner. After turnovers by both teams, Cooper Maloney once again opened the scoring with a long run for a try to give the Gaels the early lead. After the conversion to go up 7-0 the Gaels regained possession on the kickoff and began to move the ball once again. After a turnover that resulted in a Washington scrum the Gaels regained possession and capitalized. They shipped the ball wide to the left side where Chase Herring ran it in for the try to go up two scores. After another minute or so of back and forth play the Gaels faced a lineout around the 40 meter line of Western Washington. After running a fake to get the ball in to Mark Bowers he flipped the ball to Joey Reavey who promptly took off and ran the ball all the way in for the third try of the match. This would prove to be the last score of the half and the Gaels entered halftime up 19-0.
In the second half the Gaels came out even more aggressive and intense than before. Loyd Evan came up with an amazing simultaneous tackle and strip of the ball to get the ball in Western Washington territory. The Gaels then capitalized when Holden Youngert took the ball in for the score to go up 24-0. On the ensuing kickoff the Gaels gained possession and brought the ball all the way to the right before reversing direction and passing it all the way back to the left where Kevin O’Conner brought it in for yet another St. Mary’s try. After the conversion the score stood at 31-0, and the Gaels still were not done yet. Before the end of the game they added yet another score when Mason Colombo took a ball deep in St. Mary’s territory and had a long run of over 50 meters for the final score of the match to push the score to 38-0.
With this win the Gaels finished 3-0 on the day and finished first in Pool B play. They will play the second place team from Pool C at 10:40 AM on Sunday.
Saint Mary's vs UC Santa Barbara
By James Nelson
For their second match of the tournament the Gaels faced off with the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. The Gaels once again had an extremely impressive performance, dominating the game from start to finish.
After UCSB received the opening kick, they went nowhere with the ball as the Gaels’ pressing defense pushed them backwards. After a good counter ruck by Garrett Brewer to gain possession, the Gaels advanced the ball into the UCSB tryzone but it was touched down by the Gauchos for a 22 meter drop. After the kick, Bubba Jones took the ball from around the 40 meter line and ran it all the way in uncontested to put the Gaels ahead. After a Joey Reavey conversion to make it 7-0, the Gaels kicked to the Gauchos once again. UCSB quickly knocked the ball on however, and the Gaels once again retained possession. Cooper Maloney then ripped off a spectacular run into UCSB territory where the ball was eventually shipped wide to Jones for his second try of the match. Reavey missed the conversion to make the score 12-0 Gaels. The same sequence then repeated itself as a UCSB knock-on led to the Gaels’ regaining possession. Maloney had another great run from Gaels’ territory but this time finished it off himself. Reavey then made the conversion to end the half with the score 17-0 Gaels.
In the second half the Gaels picked up exactly where they had left off. They had several good chances to score in the first few minutes but tiny mistakes kept them off the board and kept UCSB’s hopes alive. They finally broke free with about 2 minutes left in the half with Garrett Brewer running around the right edge and blowing everyone away for a 60 meter try. After the conversion made the score 24-0 the last few minutes proved uneventful as UCSB failed to get any kind of attack going.
Saint Mary's vs UC Davis
By James Nelson
In their opening match of the Battle of the Bay Tournament, the St. Mary’s Gaels had a solid win over the UC Davis Aggies. The Gaels dominated the first half by controlling possession from the opening kick onward, never even letting Davis possess the ball until there was less than two minutes left in the half. Garrett Brewer recovered the opening kickoff and immediately took the ball downfield into Aggies’ territory. After a few quick passes, the ball was shipped out wide to Chase Herring, who took it in for the try. The conversion was missed by Joey Reavey so the score stood at 5-0. On the ensuing kickoff, Brewer managed to come up with it once again. The Gaels then marched down the field once more, methodically moving forward until it the ball was eventually taken in by Holden. After a second missed conversion made the score 10-0, the Gaels retained the kick for a third straight time and began to move the ball once again. Before they could score however, a forward pass resulted in the first stoppage of the day and the first chance for Davis to possess the ball. It was short lived however, as on the resulting 5 meter scrum Bubba Jones scooped up the loose ball and took it in for the Gael’s third try. Davis gained their first real possession of the day after recovering the kickoff but promptly gave the ball straight back to the Gaels when an attempted grubber kick by Davis was picked up by Reavey. After another minute of back and forth action, a Davis player was eventually taken into touch, ending the first half with the score 15-0 Gaels.
In the second half the Gaels made several changes to their lineup and Davis took advantage to gain a little bit of momentum. A St. Mary’s knock-on gave Davis possession and they promptly marched down the field. Davis had several very good chances to score but a ball that was held up on the goal line and a knock-on inside of 5 meters both cost the Aggies dearly. The game continued for several minutes with Davis constantly threatening but never being able to capitalize on their chances. This changed however, when St. Mary’s player Augie Heath received a yellow card for hitting a ball away after a ruck. Davis was able to use this to their advantage and scored their first try seconds later to make the score 15-5. It would prove to be too little too late however, as the Gaels’ Cooper Maloney kicked the ball into touch soon after, ending the match.