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Belmont Shore took home the final qualifier at the Santa Monica 7s but the real prize of the weekend was the second spot to club 7s nationals. Santa Monica outlasted OMBAC in the all-important semifinal to clinch the spot in Colorado.
Six teams participated in the final qualifier with the top two advancing to the cup rounds from two groups of three. Belmont Shore earned the top spot in one pool with a pair of wins, including a 24-0 thumping of Santa Monica. The Dolphins won their other match, setting up a date with OMBAC in the semifinal.
Belmont escaped with a 21-20 victory over Los Angeles in one semifinal and was closer than the matchup between OMBAC and Santa Monica. The Dolphins played nearly an error free game, only allowing five points to OMBAC in a 19-5 victory.
“Both teams came into that game needing to win to put themselves in position. It was very competitive. Santa Monica played simple nothing fancy from their side, making less mistakes than OMBAC did,” said Belmont Shore coach Peter Sio.
Santa Monica managed to claim a spot at nationals despite not winning a tournament this summer. A consistent top three finish in all the tournaments gave the Dolphins a ticket to nationals. Coming into the weekend, Santa Monica led OMBAC by three points in the series standings and managed to extend that lead with the semi final victory over the San Diego side.
“Santa Monica is a very good team. Young, young young team, there is maybe one or two older guys. They have done well this whole summer series and put themselves in position to go to nationals and make a name for themselves,” Sio said of Santa Monica.
Belmont Shore won the tournament with a 12-7 victory, getting back into the win column after a disappointing third place finish last week. With this tournament victory, Belmont finished the campaign with three of four cup wins.
“We did alright, we were able to pull this one but it was really close. Obviously, there were two teams going into that last qualifier with a chance to go to nationals. They came with all guns blazing while we were trying to build for nationals. I am glad its over,” added Sio.
Belmont Shore has been a mainstay at nationals for years and had a pretty easy go of it in the SoCal Series. The competition will be much more fierce at nationals, however. After taking three of four national championships from 2009-2013, Belmont is looking to dethrone the Seattle Saracens in 2016.
“One of the biggest challenges and what we were worried about was the competition hear versus nationals,” commented Sio. “The teams at nationals are different than they used to be because as we realized most teams are not club teams anymore. There are quite a few ODA’s out there and that has raised the bar to a whole new level of competition.”
Belmont Shore and Santa Monica are sure to be tested when they head to Colorado for the August 13-14th national championships.