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NYAC took home the final qualifier in the Northeast on Saturday but Old Blue and Mystic qualified for nationals with the 1st and 2nd seed respectively. NYAC needed to win the tournament to have any chance but Mystic River did just enough with a 3rd place finish and beat out NYAC via a head to head tiebreaker for the 2nd berth to nationals.
The Athletic Club played with a sense of urgency, beating Old Blue in pool play and in the final. NYAC could only advance with a cup victory and winning the tournament this week really showed the strength of the club and the Northeast.
“NYAC Battled back from a tough 4th place (Monmouth) start, to finish in the finals the last three tourneys. AC is a side that is going to make you work on both sides of the ball and punish you when you force anything. I think it says a lot of the comp when we have different three tourney winner in four stops,” Mystic River coach Josh Smith told Rugby Today.
Old Blue had all but clinched a place at nationals coming in but a solid performance ensured its place at nationals. Despite slipping up against NYAC in the round robin, Old Blue got back to the final by beating Mystic River in another close affair. The game went down to the wire once again and a late try almost tied the game for the Mystics. The conversion to tie sailed wide, however, and Old Blue went on to the final.
For Mystic River, it needed a 3rd place finish or better. The Mystics got off to a strong start, going 3-0 in pool play. However, being on the wrong end of another tight affair with Old Blue forced Mystic River to play an important 3rd place game. To ensure they qualified regardless of the result in the final, the Mystics defeated the Village Lions handily. With a head to head lead in the summer series 2-1 over NYAC, a third place finish gave Mystic the clinching spot.
After a long 15s season which saw it win a DI National Title, Mystic River struggled to get ready for the northeast series. With a few players missing to the pro league and time off, the newly minted champions had a reshuffled roster.
“We are very happy and lucky to make it through the Northeast. Things were a bit rushed after the 15s season ended so late. We used different combos of players (division II and college) early on to get some boys a bit of a rest and did just enough to make it through. The next 3 weeks will be huge for us sorting our roster and building up the continuity,” said Smith.
Old Blue and Mystic River will begin preparation for the August 13th and 14th club 7s nationals at Dicks Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.