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Twelve teams entered the Mid-Atlantic 7s Championships in Richmond, Va. with hopes of representing the NCR4 Competitive Region at Nationals on August 13th in Denver, Colo. For the men, Schuylkill River won its second first place finish to earn the top seed in the region and Northern Virginia (NOVA) captured the second seed edging out Rocky Gorge by one point. Scion and NOVA advanced to Nationals on the women’s side after they have led the MAC all season long.
With three teams in play for the two spots to Denver, six standing points separated the clubs. After last weekend’s Slug 7s, Schuylkill River led the pack with 58.5 points followed by NOVA with 55 and Rocky Gorge with 52. Going into the final tournament on Saturday, Schuylkill had to place in third to be assured a spot in Nationals while Rocky Gorge had to finish two places ahead of NOVA to advance.
At the MAC 7s Championships, Schuylkill River was undefeated in pool play outscoring its opponents 83-5. In Pool B, NOVA and Rocky Gorge finished the opening round with 2-0-1 records after tying their head-to-head matchup, 12-12. Based on point differential, Rocky Gorge was awarded the top seed and would play the Pittsburgh Pandas in the semifinals. For NOVA, they were matched up against rival Schuylkill River in the second semifinal.
Schuylkill River continued its tear this summer by dispatching NOVA, 21-7, in the semifinals and Rocky Gorge beat Pittsburgh, 28-21, to face the top club. With winning its semifinal, Schuylkill River locked up its place in Nationals and Rocky Gorge had to beat the Philadelphia team to book its ticket.
In the final, Schuylkill River starved the young Rocky Gorge squad to win 19-5. The Exiles led the entire game taking advantage of Gorge’s turnovers in their own end. Schuylkill’s Pat Boyle scored his team’s first half tries and Brian Keown connected on both conversions for a 14-0 halftime lead.
The Exiles extended the lead to 19-0 after Bruce Dolan broke the line for a long run and dished back inside to Cody Bukowski for the try. Determined to be not shut out, Rocky Gorge’s Jordan Bakouche scored in the final moments of the match. In the end, it was the skill and experience of Schuylkill River that proved to be too much as it won 19-5.
According to Schuylkill River’s captain Pat Boyle, the key to the tournament was “playing within the system, continuing to improve, and when the opportunity arises to do something, taking advantage of it. Defensively, we really stepped up. I don’t think Gorge crossed the 50 meter until the final play of the game... The combination of all things has really put us of the front foot these last two weeks as we haven’t lost a game.”
Rocky Gorge had the outside chance to still advancing to Denver, but NOVA did its job in the third place game barely surpassing Pittsburgh, 19-17. With the victory, NOVA earned the second spot to Nationals by one point.
This will be Schuylkill River’s sixth year in row to make Nationals and seven out of the last eight. When asked what the Exiles have to work on, Boyle responded, “Getting comfortable with the speed of the game and making sure the younger guys understand the margins between getting to the cup round are very small. Every game is played with such intensity and everything is amplified. The talent is incredible and the error in your local union might not punish you in a game, but out there, it will. We are focused on us, what we need to do, and go on from there.”
The Scion Sirens and NOVA ruled the Women’s Premier Division all summer and, as usual, they met again in the final. After winning its pool play by a combined 117-0 and stomping NOVA, 27-0, in its first match, Scion celebrated its fourth tournament first place trophy winning 24-12. Scion enters Nationals on a roll and will look to flex its muscles against the country’s top teams. NOVA, who earned the share of first place last weekend, joins Scion in Denver as the second seed from the MAC.