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After finishing 4th in the first two qualifier tournaments, OMBAC got itself back into contention for a qualifier berth with a cup victory at the Sunsplash 7s this weekend.
It did not start out as a promising day for the San Diego side as it slipped up against the Belmont Shore B side. Fortunately, for OMBAC, however, all eight teams made the cup quarterfinals. In a rematch with the Belmont Shore B side, it ran away with a convincing victory.
OMBAC dispatched Los Angeles in the semifinals and awaited either Belmont Shore or Santa Monica in the other semifinals. It was a ferocious battle between the two teams that went on to extra time. Santa Monica eventually knocked off two time reigning tournament champs.
“The best rugby of the day was probably that Belmont Shore, Santa Monica semifinal,” said OMBAC coach Jason Wood.
The hard fought semifinal match took its toll on the Dolphins, however. Santa Monica ran out of gas in the final as OMBAC ran away with the match.
“Santa Monica really stepped up against Belmont Shore in their semifinal,” added Wood. “They really threw everything they had at Belmont. Number one taking them out so they wouldn’t be in the final against us and I think they ran out of gas doing it. So, In essence, giving us an easy trail to a championship.”
With the tournament victory, OMBAC picked up three points on 2nd place Santa Monica for the coveted spot to nationals. Two fourth place finishes left little room for error for Old Mission Beach but it accomplished its goal for the weekend.
“We played pretty consistent, team rugby. Our team really followed the pattern and did the things they need to do to win the quarterfinal, semifinal and final. All credit to them. It is a much-improved performance over the prior tournaments. The guys really wanted to make it a contest to make nationals and gave it there all this weekend,” exclaimed Wood.
Led by a pair of teammates at the opposite end of the career spectrum, OMBAC is slowly making headway. 20 year old Matt Long captains the side and is making a name for himself in the rugby community while 45 year old Jason Raven, who used to be a former captain of the USA 7s team, adds to the team a wealth of experience. A couple local college and kids and some members of the DI squad make of the rest of the squad. Many members of the PRP team elected to take the summer off after a long season, leaving some holes to fill.
With one tournament to play, Belmont Shore has all but locked up the top spot to nationals. Barring a catastrophic finish in the last leg, it should take the number one seed. The second seed is now much murkier thanks to the OMBAC victory. Santa Monica sits in 2nd with a pair of 2nd place finishes and a 3rd place finish. The OC Ravens were jockeying for the spot but a disappointing 6th place finish this weekend dampened their hopes of qualifying. With a 2nd, 3rd and 6th place finish it is still technically a possibility, but a lot of things will have to break right for them to leapfrog Santa Monica and OMBAC.