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Well Belmont Shore did the job, beating the Sacramento Lions 46-10 to move on to the National Round of 16.
In the end it was a comfortable victory, but it felt anything but comfortable for the much-accomplished Southern California team.
Four yellow cards didn’t help, as Shore, despite being the home team and thus, theoretically, more familiar with referee Jason Harper’s likes and dislikes, couldn’t get out of penalty trouble.
“It was frustrating,” said Head Coach Ray Egan. “We spent almost half the game down a man. Overall I wouldn’t say I was overly happy with the performance. We were fairly strong on our set piece, and I think we won the game on defense. Our one-up tackling was very good.”
It had to be. The Lions were big and physical, and when they played well really tested the Shore defense. That was why the hosts kept getting yellow cards – their repeated infringements around and in the breakdown was what produced all those yellow cards.
As the second half opened the Lions knew they needed points. They raised the intensity, and if they had been able to keep the ball and test that scrambling Belmont Shore defense, they might have been able to press the advantage.
But Belmont Shore has plenty of weapons, and used them. Every turnover they made put them in with a chance to score.
“I was pleased at how hard the team battled to win the game,” said Egan. “The Lions are a very good team and pushed us.”