Rugby Roughs Up Wildcats

    The UCSD men’s rugby team fought hard to overcome a valiant effort from the University of Arizona on Jan. 29 at Warren Field. The Triton men trumped their Wildcat counterparts, ranked No. 17 in the nation, by a final score of 38-20.

    Billy Wong/Guardian
    A throng of Triton tacklers manhandle a Sun Devil opponent awaiting the ball in UCSD’s three-point loss to Arizona State University.

    The Tritons were determined to come out on top after a tough loss late in the game against Arizona State University, just two days earlier.

    “We lost by only three points on Friday to an ASU team that we felt we should have beat, so that was a real motivation going into the Sunday game against U of A, [which is] a much better [team],” senior team captain Nicky Stoner said. “We just knew we needed to come up big, and I think everyone approached the game with the mindset that we would not have a repeat of Friday.”

    Despite the motivation, the players knew they had a tough game ahead of them.

    “Going into Sunday’s game, we felt like we had to cut out our mistakes and play smart,” coach Tim O’Hara said. “We managed to do that and played a solid game.”

    The match started off at a quick pace, with junior scrumhalf Chad Allen and rookie flanker Dallin Lindahl each scoring tries. Stoner converted both tries for two points each and contributed a penalty kick before the end of the first half. At the end of the first 40 minutes, the score was tied at 17 points.

    The University of Arizona came back early in the second half with a penalty kick, but it would be the last time it scored in the match. Three more Triton tries, two from junior Nik Cherwink and one more from Allen, coupled with an impenetrable defense, proved too strong a force for the Wildcats.

    “A lot of credit has to go to our forward pack, led by senior Dave Chen and junior Pete Zilaf, who ran and tackled hard all day long, and to our senior flyhalf Kevin Hannegan, who played a superb game,” Stoner said.

    Stoner converted all three kicks in the second half and went 6-for-6 on that day, bringing his total to a game-high 13 points.

    “Nick Stoner is probably one of the best tacklers on the team and has become a very reliable kicker,” O’Hara said.

    As time ran out, UCSD left Arizona in the cold, beating the Wildcats by 18 points.

    The win brings the team’s record to 1-2, but with five more games in the season, the Triton men are optimistic.

    “We play at the Division-I level in an extremely competitive league and we feel that provided we play our pattern, hit hard and low and run for all 80 minutes, we can play and win against any team on our schedule,” Stoner said.

    In addition to a strong strategy, the team has stepped up its training regiment and added two 80-minute conditioning practices to the regular sessions run by assistant coach R.J. Haas.

    “The sessions [are] filled with running almost nonstop, including stair runs, timed miles and sprints, which are interchanged between sets of push-ups and sit-ups,” Stoner said.

    O’Hara anticipates a good game against the team’s upcoming opponent Cal State Long Beach.

    “None of our opponents so far this year have played them, but last year, they were a playoff-caliber team,” he said.

    Stoner also commented that the team is looking forward to playing hard in the contest next week.

    “They are a good side [that] will have size and speed, and it will be important to come out in the first 10 minutes with hard running and solid tackles to set the tone of the game,” he said.

    The team will meet its Cal State Long Beach challengers on Feb. 4 at Warren Field.

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