November 23, 2008-- Saint Mary's launched the 6th Annual Pat Vincent Cup on Saturday. In the first round of play, #12 Central Washington met UC Santa Barbara, while the Gaels defeated Loyola Marymount of Los Angeles (34-17). View 11/22 Photos Here.
In the Championship game on Sunday, the Gaels snuck by Central Washington (32-27) in an extremely close match.
Heading into the weekend, SMC Head Coach, Tim O’Brien stated, "The biggest test this weekend is to see how well the kids have applied the lessons learned in their ten practices and random minutes of match play. Loyola has some great athletes and UCSB and Central Washington are a well-schooled and an organized bunch."
As posted on americanrugbynews.com (by Brian Lowe on 11/24), both #6 St Mary's and #11 Central Washington have made their 2008/09 season intentions clear by playing out an absolute thriller in the final of the Pat Vincent Cup in Moraga, CA.
The game literally went right down to the wire before the Gaels prevailed with a 32-27 come-from-behind win. The match was played at break neck speed with both teams unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities that, had they done so, would have seen the scoreline blown out.
SMC took a narrow 17-12 advantage into halftime, but the Wildcats struck within three minutes of the resumption to tie it up. Saint Mary’s showed that they again have pace, are well-drilled, and can move the ball well, but so too did Central Washington, hence the back and forth nature of the contest.
SMC scored an unconverted try six minutes into the second half to retake the lead, only to surrender a converted score by CWU 12 minutes later that saw the Wildcats take over at 24-22. Central Washington’s Aaron Lee booted a penalty goal in the 58th minute to extend his side’s lead to 27-22, but SMC hit right back with another unconverted try to tie things up yet again with around 12 minutes left on the clock.
The home team went in for the final time inside the last five minutes to take a 32-27 lead and then managed to stave off a furious finish by CWU and hang on for the victory. "Central did a great job capitalizing on our errors," Saint Mary's head coach Tim O'Brien told ARN. "In terms of our progression, this was good and CWU is a very classy program." Matt Crawford, Andrew Cook, and Brandon Vedder all stood out for SMC.
"This kind of competition is what we were looking for, a measuring stick if you will," added Central Washington head coach Bob Ford. "It was a perfect opportunity for us to develop some of our younger guys and to give them a perspective of what a playoff weekend is all about. "We will take a lot of lessons away from both our matches on the weekend and the boys are perhaps more committed now than ever to putting in the hard work that is necessary for us to improve going forward. I think both SMC and UCSB have quality programs and I am sure we will see a lot more from both of these programs in the future."
Saint Mary's dispatched Loyola Marymount 34-17 on Saturday to advance to Sunday's final, while Central Washington downed UC Santa Barbara 34-20 to earn its place in the championship decider.
Following the championship game, O'Brien added, "Any mistake we made – a bad pass, whatever – and Central was right on it. The game was played well, it wasn’t dirty, but it was tough. Central is very well put-together and I think coach Bob Ford has benefited from his time with the national team.