SMC Men's Rugby Closes Out Successful Season in National Final

A second half surge brought the Saint Mary’s men’s rugby team within striking distance of another memorable comeback win but Army held strong in the game’s final minutes and the Gaels fell 20-8 in the D1A National Championship in Houston, Texas.

One week after a physical effort helped Saint Mary’s beat Cal and punch its ticket to the national final, the Gaels lined up against the Black Knights on a hot, humid evening in Texas. And, it was Army that landed the first blow, taking advantage of SMC turnovers to build a 13-0 lead by halftime.

Saint Mary’s comeback effort started right as the second half began. An Army penalty put the Gaels in position to get their first points and Karl Keane converted, splitting the uprights with a kick to make it 13-3 just three minutes into the half.

It didn’t take long for the Gaels to draw closer. Erich Storti made one of the game’s most memorable plays, launching a long run and ultimately splitting multiple Army defenders to break into the try zone with 26 minutes left to play. Though the conversion kick sailed wide, Saint Mary’s made it a one-score game by reducing the deficit to 13-8.

The Gaels got their best chance to tie the score with about nine minutes remaining, driving deep into Army territory and threatening the try zone. But, as SMC tried to break the plain, the ball hit the turf and went back to Army for a turnover, ending the threat and putting momentum back in the Black Knights’ corner.

Army added one final try in the final few minutes and added the conversion kick to provide the game’s final score. The result closed out a tremendous 15s season for Saint Mary’s, which proved yet again its standing as one of the nation’s most consistently outstanding rugby programs.