USC Rugby started their regular season with an away match in San Diego against UCSD on Saturday. From the moment the USC Rugby Cardinal and Gold Touring Coach pulled up to Warren Field and 46 eager players hopped off, it was clear that this season’s USC Rugby team is focused and committed to its goals.
In the opening 20 minutes both teams played physical rugby and both teams tackled well to stop the attackers. Then rookie left winger, speedster Justin Shepard, created space in the center of the field and darted 40 meters to open the scoring. Justin continues to play with authority at this level.
USCD defense managed to hold back USC until captain Joey Krassenstein slotted a drop goal from just outside the 22 meter line, pushing the score to 10 and delivering on a promise to retiring Head Coach Dave Lytle to kick a drop goal in his honor. (The other coaches, though they understood the gesture, were not pleased to see such freewheeling play so early in the match). Joey more than made up for scaring the coaches when he scored USC Rugby’s second try just before half time.
USC Rugby’s set-plays from the line-out and free kick/penalty mark, through improving, still showed signs of greenhorns who had not seen opposition recently. But USC Rugby still gained territory against every UCSD mistake with captain Joey Krassenstein using his world-class kicking boot. Any mistake by UCSD pushed them backwards over 40 meters on average.
At the 55 minute mark, the USC Rugby back-line figured out the combination of UCSD’s defense and starting running in more tries. USC Rugby vice-captain Haico Kaashoek – try. Justin Shepard – another try. Joey Krassenstein – another try. Along with a some long range conversions by Haico Kaashoek, and the score board ticked up and up.
Final score: USC Trojans 36, UCSD 12. Way to go, team!
Congratulations to Haico Kaashoek, named USC Man of the Match for his work in the back-line, tackling, and kicking conversions. Special shout out to forward leader Nick Banks for his hard work in the front-row (making solid tackles in the 75th minute, that’s Banks Strong).
USC Rugby is still learning the defensive structure that can hold out teams for 80 minutes, but they have heart, dedication, and a combination of Krassenstein and Kaashoek that will create and excite USC Rugby fans this season.
USC Rugby (Haico Kaashoek 1 try, 4 con; Justin Shepard 2 tries; Joseph Krassenstein 2 tries, 1 drop-goal)
UCSD Rugby (2 tries, 1 con)