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With one qualifier left to be played Saturday in San Diego, Southern California’s three seeds to Nationals are not entirely sewn up, though Belmont Shore and the San Diego Old Aztecs are in good position to claim two.

The defending National Champs could advance without winning a single game, but guarantee a trip to Nationals by finishing at least fifth, and the Old Aztecs do so by finishing sixth or better.

If qualifying ended today, OMBAC would be headed to Nationals next month, but Saturday’s hosts can still be caught. However, by finishing higher than Santa Monica and Tempe Saturday, OMBAC punches its ticket to San Francisco.

Tempe and Santa Monica are still mathematically capable of qualifying for Nationals.

For Tempe, the only way they qualify is by winning the tournament outright and having OMBAC not win a single game Saturday. They would also need Santa Monica to finish third or worse.

For Santa Monica, the road could be much more realistically hoed. Santa Monica trails OMBAC by just two points, a deficit they can surmount with a good enough performance in San Diego.

In the event of a tie in overall series points, which is quite possible if Santa Monica finishes one spot ahead of OMBAC, the tiebreaker is overall point differential on Saturday.

“You’ve got to be careful not to fall in the trap of worrying too much about the other teams and what players they’re able to get and who’s strong or who’s not. All we can do is just concentrate on being as good as we can be,” said Santa Monica coach Mark Stcherbina.

“I think we haven’t lived up to anywhere near our potential, so that’s what we’re focusing on -- trying to get our game plan right. We know that whatever team we come up against, if we can play the way we think we can, it shouldn’t really matter. We’ve shown what potential we have. I think people would agree that they know there’s a lot better rugby to be played by Santa Monica.”

Having finished higher than OMBAC at the last tournament, Santa Monica is the top-seeded team in Pool D, meaning their road to the Cup quarterfinals should be easier. OMBAC goes head-to-head with the crosstown rival Old Aztecs in Pool B.

Beyond just qualifying, Belmont Shore and the Old Aztecs, and potentially OMBAC, will be battling for seeding Saturday. With Belmont and the Old Aztecs looking like serious contenders for a National title, seeding is crucial.

SoCal’s winner will be in a pool with only one other No. 1 seed, that of the West, while Socal’s No’s. 2 and 3 will be in pools with two No. 1 seeds. Winning SoCal also guarantees not having to face the vaunted Chicago Lions or 2011 runner-up Schuylkill River until day two at Nationals.  


Pool A
Belmont Shore
Oceanside
Santa Monica 2nds

Pool B
Old Aztecs
OMBAC
OC Ravens

Pool C
Old Aztecs 2nds
Kern County
Belmont 2nds

Pool D
Santa Monica
Tempe
OMBAC 2nds