Offense highlights California wins for Saint Mary’s, San Diego State

D1A Rugby: Offense highlights California wins for Saint Mary’s, San Diego State
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater (above & homepage)

BOULDER, Colo. – San Diego State moved to 2-1 in California Conference play, while Saint Mary’s remained perfect, but not before facing resistance from Cal Poly.

In an exciting match that didn’t lack any offense, San Diego State looked to pull away from Santa Clara at several stages of the game, but the Broncos hung tight throughout the 80 minutes.

“Credit Santa Clara, as they were never really out of the game,” complimented AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Kalei Konrad. “We just continued to make adjustments to our defensive alignment . . . and we wanted to keep the ball in hand and continue to attack.”

Full back Ari Flink dotted down twice in the first half to help the Aztecs build a 35-25 lead by halftime. When Santa Clara refused to be turned back, it was Flink who kept San Diego State ahead with two more tries in the second half.

Konrad, who totaled 24 points in the victory and is by far the most experienced Aztec, has been impressed with the development of his young teammates.

“It’s been great to see some of the younger guys develop as players and as leaders of the team,” the fly half said. “Each week they’ll pick up something new. There’s not too much college rugby experience on the team, especially in the forwards, but there’s a great competitiveness and attitude among the entire group.”

“I think a lot of the young guys will take some confidence from this weekend’s win.”

In San Louis Obispo, Calif., danger-man Nick Schlobohm returned to Saint Mary’s lineup after a long absence and was back to his scoring ways. The winger found the try zone twice in the Gaels’ recent, 48-10, victory over Cal Poly.

The 38-point win wouldn’t be categorized as a nail-biter, but given the way Saint Mary’s has been blowing out teams the performance was a noble one by the Mustangs. In fact, Cal Poly took a 3-0 lead off the boot of Michael Mitchell in the ninth minute.

The Gaels, led by Schlobohm and inside center Dylan Audsley, eventually got on the front foot and built a 24-3 lead early in the second half. The Mustangs counterpunched with a converted try from outside center Max Tacket, but Saint Mary’s added tries from Audsley, Cooper Maloney, and Vili Helu to squash any possibility of a comeback.

No. 7 Cal Poly will continue its fight for a second-place finish in the California Conference when it takes on UC Santa Barbara Friday, March 13. Meanwhile, Saint Mary’s is prepping for a grueling road trip to Utah where the Gaels will face the University of Utah March 13 and wake up the next day for a huge challenge against BYU March 14.