The Santa Monica 7s team defeated Belmont Shore by the score of 14-7 in the final of the Sizzling Sevens Southern California Qualifier in Tempe, Ariz., taking the second out of four SoCal qualifiers.
Every point earned is vital in the competitive region, and Coach Marc Schterbina was extremely pleased with both the results and the performance his team put forth last Saturday.
Schterbina noted that there was an element of luck in his squad’s victory, because they only were able to bring ten men to the tournament, instead of of the normal squad size of twelve. It was impressive that the team managed to stay properly hydrated and injury free in the heat of Tempe, and that helped carry the team to the championship. Santa Monica was able to set a platform on defense, and their strong communication helped them work well together as a unit.
Although Schterbina mentioned that the team can improve in their one-on-one tackling, he was pleased, overall, with the defensive effort. The strong defense was paired with an attack that was more direct than it had been in recent weeks.
“We picked good moments to go for it,” said Schterbina about the attack.
The commitment level from everyone on the team has been extraordinary, added Schterbine, and “the guys who are not always selected into the squad are always prepared to step up and give it their all for the team.”
Tyler Pritchard, a 22-year-old flyhalf, was one who stood out. Schterbina, who strongly resisted promptings to mention any names, believes that Pritchard will become a great player in the future, and he can “turn the game on its head with individual shows of brilliance.”
Captain Brian Regal also played well, but in part because he led a team performance.
With two of the qualifiers from the SoCal region completed, Belmont Shore leads with 41 points, while Santa Monica inched closer at 37. Schterbina expects that all of the teams will continue to improve as qualifying goes on. He knows that after winning one of the tournaments, Santa Monica now has a target on their backs.
Schterbina believes that it will remain close amongst the top teams, and that in order to succeed, his squad will have to “keep pushing and keep the momentum going.”