Article by Chad Wise | Originally published at usarugby.org
DES MOINES, Iowa – Seattle Saracens will not replicate last year’s undefeated run to the USA Rugby Emirates Airline Club 7s National Championship after losing the third pool match to 1823 Rugby, but a victorious rematch of the 2014 Final in Saturday’s Cup Quarterfinal ensures the Washington-based club remains in contention for the title.
Seattle and 1823 strolled through the first two rounds of Pool A Saturday at James W. Cownie Soccer Complex, with Saracens scoring 78 points in keeping Charlotte Rugby and Dallas Reds scoreless. 1823 battled through wet conditions after Seattle took a 7-5 lead in the second minute of the unbeatens’ matchup, and two tries from Ryan Cochran proved the difference in the 17-7 decider.
“It was a tough loss and I think the next game will be telling,” 2014 Club 7s MVP and Seattle Saracens captain Mike Palefau said prior to the knockout round. “There are two ways we could go from it: up or down. I’m not really concerned about who we play [in the Quarterfinal], because we’ll have to play them to get to the Final eventually, anyway.
“ were physical. We knew they were going to be physical, and they did a good job.”
Old Blue of New York held a 3-0 record through Pool B play, keeping Club 15s Division II National Champion Life West from reaching the Cup round with a 33-12 win in the final match. USA Rugby Coach of the Year Stephen Lewis’ side scored 17 tries in three matches before meeting up with Seattle in the Cup Quarterfinals.
Kevin Swiryn and Jope Motokana opened the scoring for Seattle, which looked to put Old Blue to bed early in the heavyweight rematch. Capped Eagles Nate Augspurger and Miles Craigwell traded tries in the first two minutes of the second half before Richard Kirkland and Alex Schwarz each dotted down to bring Old Blue’s deficit to 19-17 in the final minute of the match.
Derek Lipscomb, an invitee to multiple Men’s Eagles Sevens High Performance Camps at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., nearly provided late-game heroics for Old Blue, much like Rocco Mauer had for Seattle a year ago, but a forward pass prior to the school teacher using his athleticism to score gave Saracens possession and the victory.
Mystic River finished off an impressive Pool C campaign with a defeat of Kansas City Blues, the third of the day conceded by the Frontier Conference Champions, to win the pool. Ed Mills and Gannon Moore, standouts for the Blues in the summer, gave Kansas City a lead, but two tries in the second half and two disappointing losses to Schuylkill River and Santa Monica earlier in the day ended the team’s chances for a championship early.
Denver Barbarians played smart rugby in what was considered Club 7s’ “Pool of Death” to win Pool D, though strong performances from Army and Omaha Goats made for an exciting fight for second. Army, with several World-Class Athlete Program players in its squad, battled through a Santa Monica team boasting its own set of players that have trained and have been capped with the Men’s Eagles Sevens to take second.
The Exiles’ two tries in the Cup Quarterfinal bookended Denver’s three, scored by Eagle hopefuls Ke’von Williams and Ben Pinkleman, as well as capped Eagle Martin Iosefo. The pace and power of the Barbarians were too much for Schuylkill River, which had to work hard and efficiently along Denver’s defensive wing to score in the third minute.
Though Army gave Denver a scare in pool play and ran Belmont Shore and Omaha off of the pitch, Mystic River showed no signs of weakness in its Cup Quarterfinal matchup with the armed forces team. The team from the northeast scored early and often in the final match of the day at James W. Cownie Soccer Complex, with Jared Collinson highlighting the score sheet with a brace.
Army will take on Old Blue in the Plate Semifinals, which also feature Club 15s Division I runners-up Austin Blacks and Schuylkill River. A disappointing day one can be eased with two wins on day two for Kansas City, as the Blues continue their Bowl campaign against Chicago in the Semifinals.
Seattle will be tested by Mystic River Sunday in the Cup Semifinal, which kicks off on the stadium pitch at 10:20 a.m. CT. Visit the Club 7s event page for detailed scoring of Saturday’s matches and the full schedule for Sunday, which will be broadcast live on USA Rugby TV.