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OMBAC used a first-half surge to pull away from Belmont Shore in the final and take the second leg of the SoCal 7s Series, in Flagstaff, Ariz., this weekend. Despite a number of second half tries from Belmont Shore, Old Mission Beach hung on to win 33-31.
Both teams squared off in pool pay earlier in the day with OMBAC taking the first meeting 28-19. Both won their other pool play games, giving OMBAC and Belmont shore Cup semifinal berths.
Arizona Academy won the other bracket with an impressive 3-0 record on the day. The other usual suspect, Santa Monica, finished second in the group setting up identical final four matchups from the week prior.
Despite Arizona’s perfect pool play, it was unable to keep pace with Belmont Shore and ultimately fell 24-19 to the reigning champs in the semis. In the other semi-final, however, OMBAC avenged last weeks loss to Santa Monica.
Both OMBAC and Belmont Shore were missing some familiar faces as a number of key players were in Cancun with Tiger Rugby. Belmont Shore was without arguably its biggest threat in Mike Te’o. Similarly, Old Mission Beach made this week even more impressive in light of the fact that it played without its stalwart captain Zack Pangelinan.
Coming into the weekend, OMBAC coach John McKittrick stressed a controlled, slower paced game against Belmont Shore. As it turned out, quality ball retention and a slower pace game benifited OMBAC again in the final.
“The strategy from John McKittrick was key,” said OMBAC’s Shane Moise “He gave us notes to counter Belmont’s quick game by more taking our time and slowing the game on our side. We were looking to use the lineouts instead of going quick and that change of pace for us combined with controlling the ball gave us the early edge in the game.”
OMBAC executed its game plan to perfection jumping out to a big first half lead. “We ran the score up on them pretty quickly in the first half,” Moise added. Captain Matt Long, Garrett Jones and newly returned Jeremy Ramirez all had an outstanding first half to build the lead.
Belmont Shore attempted to rally in the second stanza and scored two tries but was unable to get close until late. With less than a minute to go, Shore added a third try and caught OMBAC napping on the restart to get a fourth but ultimately it wasn’t enough as OMBAC won the match 33-31.
The Arizona Academy defeated Santa Monica 33-14 for third place.
Halfway through the series, Belmont Shore and OMBAC have both won tournaments and sit atop the table. Arizona Academy and Santa Monica are both within striking distance of the coveted top two spots. With two tournaments to go, there is still a lot to play for in SoCal. The next leg of the series takes place on July 11th in Los Angeles.