Sunday, 01 May 2011 22:21    PDF Print Write e-mail
Astounding Comeback for UCSB
Colleges - Men's DI College

UCSB RugbyUC Santa Barbara is the final team to make the National DI college semifinals as the Gauchos rode an amazing comeback to beat Stanford Sunday evening on the UCSB ca mpus.

Stanford led 10-0 at halftime and 17-0 as late as 59 minutes into the game. But UCSB rebounded, made some changes in their approach, and ran in four tries in seven minutes and another one later in the game to win 33-17.

“We weren’t playing smart rugby,” said an almost breathless UCSB Head Coach Kevin Battle. “We really hurt ourselves and Stanford had us on the back foot. Even when we seemed to get it back in the second half they scored a try. But the boys didn’t want it to end and got it done.”

Battle said his game plan all year has been to use his effective outside backs. But his wings hardly saw the ball all first half.

“We weren’t making the right choices, but we talked about it at halftime and asked why are we getting away from our game plan?”

The UCSB forwards upped their game and had a hand in one key score, while wing John Gallo was right in the middle of everything, kicking four of five conversions and scoring the go-ahead try.

At 60 minutes Jonathan Prickett raced over for a try that gave his side a little life. Two minutes later Santa Barbara was back on the Stanford line, and a forward pack that had been struggling with the Stanford forwards, shoved a five-meter scrum over the line setting up No. 8 Hunter Sapp for his try.

Two minutes later it was Gallo, whose try and conversion put UCSB ahead 21-17. And three minutes after that, Kyle Cronin scored.

In the closing minutes, sub Lee Pinkston scored to cap a thrilling comeback.

"It was something we struggled with all season," said Stanford Head Coach Matt Sherman. "We had trouble closing out games and doing what is needed to put someone away. In this game, we knew if we allowed an unstructured game, that would help Santa Barbara - credit to them, they have some very talented backs."

Stanford scored using their forwards but also missed some early opportunities, Sherman explained. And then the floodgates opened.

"We knew they would get one or two, but those four tries made for a huge momentum swing," he said.  

Meanwhile the message from Santa Barbara was simple:
“I am ecstatic,” said Battle. “They just didn’t give up.”

UCSB joins Davenport, Bowling Green and Harvard in the DI semis.