The USC Men’s Rugby Club competed in their fifth match of the season this past Saturday against Santa Barbara City College. The Trojans recognized the importance of the match as a win would secure a spot in the playoffs.
SBCC kicked off and USC took to the opening minutes with high intensity, keeping the majority of play in Vaqueros’ territory. The opening try of the match came seven minutes in as SBCC were under great pressure deep inside of their 22. The SBCC Scrum-Half threw a sloppy pass to no one that USC Fly-Half Adam Bushell was able to dive on behind the try line. The conversion was made putting the score at 7-0.
The Trojans kept the offensive pressure high over the next ten minutes as the forwards drove the ball into Vaquero territory once more. A half break that was stopped just before the try line, but Prop Luis Lopez picked the ball before the SBCC defense could reset, forcing the ball over the line for a try. The conversion was made and the score was now 14-0 nineteen minutes in.
Momentum slowed for the Trojans as SBCC picked up the pace of their offensive game, running USC from sideline to sideline. The fast ball movement of the SBCC backs proved too difficult to handle on several occasions, allowing for several SBCC line breaks along the sideline and three unanswered tries to be scored before the close of the first half. The score at the half time whistle stood at 19-14 in favor of SBCC.
After a sturdy half time talk from the coaches the Trojans knew to be mentally prepared for a fight in the second half. The USC backs adopted a more direct style of play. Centers Joey Krassenstein and Dima Veremeenko hammered the ball across the gain line and made several line breaks down the middle of the pitch. On one occasion Veremeenko broke through the SBCC defensive line, brushing off several players before running it in for a try. The conversion was good.
The Trojans earned themselves an even greater lead when Scrum Half Jeff Cohen scored a try that was unconverted, putting the score at 26-19. Flanker Michael Cesar joined in on the action ten minutes later with a try of his own. This time the conversion was successful and at sixty minutes the score was 33-19.
With ten minutes left the Trojans were awarded a penalty due to the SBCC ill-discipline in their own half. Bushell put another three points on the board.
At seventy-five minutes SBCC managed to get a try back to come within twelve points of USC, but were unable to form a comeback in time. Final score: 36-24. The Trojans came away with a critical victory and for the first time in years have earned a spot in the playoffs.
The team have next weekend off and will face Grand Canyon University is Las Vegas on the 5th of March.