St. Mary’s is into the DI-A final after galloping away from a very good Cal Poly side 58-24.
The two teams were close in the opening half, and changed ends with the Gaels up only 17-10. St. Mary’s Head Coach Tim O’Brien said it was a case of poor execution.
“Cal Poly are a very good team and improving,” said O’Brien. “They have some great athletes and are well-coached. But we had some basic errors in execution – two-on-ones, three-on-twos – things you practice all year for, and we didn’t complete them.”
In the second half, they did. Prop Nick Wallace scored three tries and Augie Heath contributed two in the backline. The Gaels showcase a balanced attack, with forwards and backs alike excelling in open play and in tight.
Early in the game captain Mike Haley left the game with a nasty cut on his head that required stitches. Haley told RUGBYMag.com that he is fine (no concussion), and will be ready to play in the final. Certainly his absence shook the Gaels for a bit.
But they settled down, just as they have when they have dealt with injuries through the year, they rallied.
“Our guys haven’t had a lot of continuity in the backs, but they have worked hard,” said O’Brien. “Bubba Jones was on the wing, and he did great. And when we start working together, we can score.”
“We just try to get better every week,” added Haley. “That Cal game [where they lost] was a learning experience, and coming off the Colorado game we were upset, because we knew we could play better. We’re just going to work toward being better.”
St. Mary’s will face Life University in the DI-A final in Greensboro, NC. They will expect to spend a lot of time tackling, as Life will test the Gaels through the phases, and make St. Mary’s play a physical match. They can do it, and with their quick-strike ability, could end up scoring 30 points with 25% of the possession.
They’re in the final. Now they have to put it together one more time.