Cal Poly is not one of those college teams that is named among the elite, although they have been at the top on occasion, but this weekend the Mustangs vaulted themselves into that conversation with a 40-19 defeat of Colorado State in the DI-A quarterfinals.
Cal Poly Head Coach David Burnett is pleased with his team’s performance, and says he believes the squad deserves to be where it is. Having finished 2nd in the DI-A California conference, Cal Poly was expecting to host Central Washington in a play-in game.
CWU opted out of that match, in part because they felt treated harshly by the DI-A division. And while Cal Poly recently lost to Central in a friendly in Ellensburg, Wash., Burnett said the game would have gone differently in San Luis Obispo.
“We made a couple of mistakes in that game against Central, and we felt confident we would be able to fix those and, playing at home, come away with a better result,” said Burnett. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the opportunity, if only because we’d like to have more tough games. We’re all working hard to get a stronger competition going, but what we need is a good ten weeks of tough games.”
They got that this weekend, as Colorado State scored early and put a little worry in the minds of the Mustangs. But Cal Poly replied.
Mikey Mitchell was a big part of it. A former soccer player who, as a junior, is in his first year of rugby, Mitchell is, said Burnett, the “most naturally gifted kicker I have seen in rugby since I came to America.”
Mitchell can punt and kick for goal with equal alacrity from either foot, and he was accurate, with distance, on the weekend.
Meanwhile prop Eric Parsons has emerged as a leader in the scrum and Max Tacket remains their go-to finisher out wide. It’s a good team, and one that is painfully aware that they lost only 42-31 to St. Mary’s in league play in March. The two meet again this weekend in the semifinals.
“We have played a lot of close games with them,” said Burnett. “Our game this year was close and we’ve been close in 7s, too. The last game we let in a couple of soft tries. We know we can do better.”