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The San Diego Old Aztecs took Southern California’s #1 seed for the men’s 7s club championships by beating Santa Monica in the final of the OMBAC 7s Saturday.
Old Aztecs edged a tough Santa Monica team 26-21. Santa Monica came into the tournament with a shot at sneaking up on the top three, but started poorly with a 31-0 loss to a good Tempe team bolstered by the presence of brothers Ryan and Brett Thompson.
But the Dolphins rebounded and upset Belmont Shore 12-7 in the quarterfinals and then edging hosts OMBAC 21-12.
That was the key win for Santa Monica, as they needed to be better than OMBAC in order to at least tie the San Diego club in series points. This they did as Santa Monica finished 2nd, and OMBAC 3rd after a tight 12-10 win over Tempe. That tied OMBAC and Santa Monica with 49 points apiece. Administrators are currently working through the tiebreakers to see who gets to go to San Francisco in two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Aztecs finally lived up to the billing brought about by the
arrival of a new coach (former USA 7s team captain Matt Hawkins) and
several national team players and former national champions. It still takes
time to come together. This was the first tournament win for the Aztecs
after two second-place finishes.
That gave them 60 points for the series, and first place.
Scrambling to save their season was Belmont Shore. Led by Ed Pitts and Eddie McKenna, the young Belmont Shore team found themselves out of the top four after being dumped by Santa Monica. They then needed to win two games to finish 5th to be sure of a place at the national championships.
They managed that, and finished with 52 points, 3 ahead of OMBAC and Santa Monica. Had they finished 6th, they would have also clinched the #2 seed, but a loss in the Plate Semis would have produced a three-way tie for 2nd.
“We played like a team that is still coming together,” said Belmont Shore Coach James Walker. “The message for our guys was, you’re disappointed in losing a game but you can lie down and whine about it. You have to pick yourself up and play two more games. I think they took care of business today.”
It was a tough SoCal season, with several teams playing well. Tempe was somewhat unlucky to be 5th in the series and even the Old Aztecs 2nd side had a shot at qualifying.
No word yet on whether it is OMBAC or Santa Monica will advance.