second for cats in sevens showcase
Matteo Berenger emerged as a key contributor, leading the team in tries scored on the weekend. (Photo credits: Alex Ho)
Nov 15- In their final Sevens event of the Fall the Wildcats traveled to Stanford University to take on the PAC-12's best in a nationally televised event.
The Wildcats opened against Oregon State, with a very young side needing to find their rhythm early against the pesky Beavers. Antonio Gonzalez got the scoring started, touching down in the early stages just before Jacob Broselle notched his first of the day on a dart around the left corner. A George O'Brien score to end the half made it 19-7, establishing some momentum that would set the tone for the rest of the day. Two tries in the second half by Matteo Berenger and a score from Jacob Hall gave him 11 points on the game and sealed the 38-14 victory.
In game two, a scrappy USC side put the rotated Wildcats to the test. Spreading the minutes in the early stages is important and it was the veteran USC side that made Arizona pay for mistakes, jumping out to an early 12-7 lead. Another try from Hall tied it at 12 but it would be the Trojans who would score twice to make it 22-12 with three minutes left. From here, the Wildcats' captain and some much-needed patience would pay off, as Maxime Cathala scored in the 12th minute to make it 22-17. A stolen kickoff by Andreas Andersson led to an attacking opportunity for the Cats, which Cathala seized to score in the 14th minute to seal the draw and keep Arizona's hopes of winning the pool alive.
In the pool decider, Arizona faced UCLA in a rematch of a pivotal match last year which went the way of the Bruins. "USC was a wake up call you could tell and in a way maybe the best thing for us. Some of these guys were not going to let that happen again" said Director of Rugby Sean Duffy. One of those was Jacob Broselle, as the Junior touched down early to make it 7-0 before Andersson notched his first of the weekend to send the teams to the break at 12-0. An early try from the Bruins cut it to 12-7 but a Gonzalez try pushed the lead to 19-7 and ultimately seal the 19-12 victory and clinch the pool.
The Wildcats took on Pool A 2nd place finisher Stanford to open day two, and in this cup semifinal the story was the continued emergence of Matteo Berenger. The Sophomore scored twice early before Broselle and Jack Bresland notched tries of their own in the comprehensive 26-10 victory. "Really happy for Matteo, he's been through a tough injury and we always knew with time and reps he'd really take that next step since he's talented, coachable, and puts in the work" said Duffy.
The victory advanced Arizona to the Cup final against Cal in a rematch of last month's West Coast Sevens championship. Two early tries from the Bears put the Wildcats in a hole but some dogged defense kept it 12-0 at half. An early score from Abe Turpen cut it to 12-7 but penalties, mistakes, and the cumulative impact of injuries were too much against a strong Cal side. "Credit to Cal, and look that depth is so huge. We took some injuries but it created opportunities for guys to take the next step forward and so many did. We will be better for it and for our members to finish top two in each of the major Sevens events this Fall shows how strong our conference is" said Duffy. "Incredibly thankful as well to PAC-12 Network for providing the platform for our athletes and program to shine and to Stanford for hosting."
Arizona now turns its attention back to Fifteens, closing out the Fall with a preseason match at San Diego State on Saturday. The Wildcats' are set to announce their 2023 schedule shortly with both Fifteens and Sevens lined up in the new year.
Match 1 vs Oregon State
Tries: Berenger (2), Gonzalez, Broselle, O'Brien, Hall
Conversions: Hall- 4/6
Match 2 vs USC
Tries: Cathala (2), Bresland, Hall
Conversions: Hall- 1/4
Match 3 vs UCLA
Tries: Broselle, Andersson, Gonzalez
Conversions: Hall- 2/3
Cup Semifinal vs Stanford
Tries: Berenger (2), Broselle, Bresland
Conversions: Cathala- 3/3
Cup Final vs Cal
Conversions: Hall- 0/1
PAC-12 Sevens Roster