Belmont Shore is making an appearance in DIII Semifinals in their first season fielding a DIII team. They defeated San Francisco Golden Gate 40-36 in the Round of 16 and then beat the Kansas City Islanders 32-22 quarterfinals.
Coach Rex Pitts says that tackling was a major factor in their matches, especially in the quarterfinals. Belmont Shore’s ability to stop Kansas City’s big guys early helped to get the team off to a good start on Sunday.
Kansas City, “probably outweighed us by 2000 pounds. We’re not the biggest team,” says Pitts. Belmont Shore’s fitness also was key to their success in their matches, helping the team close out games.
Belmont Shore got off to a very strong start to their season, winning their first 10 games before playing Oceanside, one of California’s strongest teams. Coach Pitts says losing that game, “was a rude awakening for us.” Belmont also played two games against Empire, which were great preparation for the tournament run. In these games, the team learned how to win. “They never give up,” said Pitts. “They absolutely refuse to lose.”
Belmont has a strong history of championships at the Division I level, and in the club’s first season with a DIII side, fielding a team has been a challenge in and of itself. It has been difficult to get enough players to commit, and even convincing quality players to compete in DIII was a struggle. Coach Pitts says that the players’ willingness to represent Belmont Shore says a lot about the atmosphere of the club, and he is proud of his team for coming together so quickly in their first season together.
Standout players for Belmont Shore include Patrick Bion, Gary Goulding, Aaron “Rooster” Kuen, and Ceasar “Dookie” Santoyo. Bion is a converted No. 10 who switched from fullback after the Oceanside match. Coach Pitts says that switch made perhaps the biggest difference for the team. Goulding is a Center who had taken a couple years off to continue his studies in graduate school. He agreed to join Belmont Shore and has become the leader of the offense. Kuen and Santoyo are both undersized props, but, “they are as tough as it gets,” says Pitts.
Coach Pitts is extremely proud of his team and believes they have what it takes to win the title, if they learn to read referees and reduce penalties.
“They are an amazing group of warriors,” says Pitts. “I wish I could mention them all. They never give up; they’re a tremendous group.”