You are here
At Little Q Field in San Diego, Calif., Belmont Shore defeated hosting OMBAC, 31-28, to win the DI Pacific South Conference Championship. Belmont Shore endured a tough test from OMBAC to advance to Tucson, Ariz. on May 20th to play the Life West Gladiators in the DI National Quarterfinals.
OMBAC ran out to an 11-0 early lead via two Kalei Konrad penalty kicks and an unconverted from scrummy Charlie Purdon. However, the veteran Belmont Shore squad stayed patient and stuck to its gameplan.
“You just have to trust the process; keep focusing on what you’re good at,” explained Belmont coach Ray Egan. “I never thought we were under that much pressure, that it was that far out of control. If OMBAC scored again and you’re 18 points down, now you’re in a hole.” The trust and cool heads paid off, as Belmont outscored OMBAC 17-0 throughout the remainder of the first half.
Flyhalf Kameron Moeller chipped into the lead with a penalty at 22’, then Belmont scored its first try at 33’ with captain and #9 Jonathan Gray’s try, converted by Moeller. Now down one point, lock Keni Nasoqeqe found the tryline at 37’ and Moeller converted to put Belmont up 17-11 heading into the break.
OMBAC wing and veteran Eagle Tim Stanfill struck early in the second stanza off a beautiful little chip from his #10. Konrad hit the conversion and put the home team back up 18-17. Stanfill broke through the Belmont defense off another chip and chase at 56’ and OMBAC had a two-possession lead with just over 20 minutes to play.
Belmont Shore treated the last quarter of the game as “winning time” all season and the recipe worked again to secure the Pacific South title. Lock Rob Newcomb sparked the turnaround with a try at 62’ and in came the bench mob with Belmont down just one, 25-24.
Konrad’s boot was good again at 65’ to extend the OMBAC lead to four with 15 minutes to play. Belmont hooker Brice Schilling earned a yellow card—one of four between both sides— at 69’ meaning his squad had to complete the comeback a man down. Reserve fullback Andrew Jackson did just that at 73’ and hit his own critical conversion to put Belmont up 31-28.
An OMBAC yellow card evened it to 14 on 14 rugby for the final moments of the match. Stanfill appeared to have won it for OMBAC, but the try attempt was held up by his opposing wing Greg Daniel. From there, the Belmont defense regrouped and the visitors closed out the victory to move on to the West Regionals.
“I think deep down our guys wanted this,” said Egan. “We beat OMBAC earlier in the season at the Cal Cup but got nothing from it. We knew we had to get out of the gate fast and be as physical as we possibly could be. With our scrum doing quite well that gave us a really good base and foundation to go after them. At the finish, as the game went on, we were able to find a lot more line breaks. Our physicality throughout the game led to that.”
Belmont Shore will now face the Life West Gladiators on May 20th for the chance to advance to the National Final Four and avenge an early-season loss.
“They’re a big physical team: big pack, big ball carriers,” said Egan. “We just need to bring the physicality and match them at the contact point. I believe if we can do that and keep improving on our set piece, that puts us on par with them and then it’s just making sure you take advantage of your opportunities.”