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Though Pool E’s records finished as lopsided as a four-team pool’s can, with one team going undefeated, another winless and the other two a combined 3-3, a conversion here or a caught pass there could have meant the difference between Kutztown or UC Davis advancing to the Cup Quarterfinals.
In the pool’s opening match, Florida nearly clipped UC Davis. Tied 5-5, the Gators had possession inside the Aggie 22-meter line, and a runner had a clear line on a try, but he bungled a pass, turning over possession. Davis, the more experienced 7s team, won with a Garrett Webb try in the 14th minute.
Kutztown opened its tournament with a 33-19 defeat of Florida State. First-year Bear Niku Kruger scored 13 points in the win, and the Seminoles Steve Wertepny impressed with 12 points on two tries and a conversion in the loss.
The second round of action saw Florida’s Lucas Baistrocchi shine, as he scored two tries and three conversions en route to the Gators’ 21-17 win over the in-state rival Seminoles. FSU matched UF’s three tries, but made two less conversions.
The other game, which figured to be the de facto pool championship, was also decided by a conversion. Kutztown’s three tries, all scored by 7s All American Tim Acker, were matched by Davis, but Kruger’s two successful conversions trumped Davis’ one.
UC Davis staved off Florida State in the third round, 19-7, and KU overcame a slow start (six scoreless minutes) to beat Florida 17-0.
Despite going 3-0, Acker believes his team underperformed on day one and has a lot better game in the tank.
“That’s the tough part, is that we trained so hard for so long and we’ve had such good practices, and that was non-existent today,” said Acker.
“The first game of the day is never going to be the best, everyone knows that. You’re supposed to build throughout the day, and you know what, in a sense we did. It’s always about that one game. You’ve got to take it one game at a time in a tournament like this with all of these good teams.
“We made it to day two, and we know we’ve got to improve. We know what we did wrong, a lot of glaring mistakes, it’s just a matter of if we can fix them.”