SAGUARO SEVENS RECAP: WILDCATS ROLL IN FINAL TUNEUP
Garrett Walker was a force for the Wildcats on Saturday, leading them in tries while setting up several others.
May 23- Arizona hit the field on Saturday for the first time since their final four loss to eventual champion Saint Mary's, making the short trip to Kino Sports Complex for the inaugural Saguaro Sevens hosted by Tucson Magpies RFC. The tournament would serve as the final audition for those angling to make the roster for next month's Collegiate Rugby Championships, while others looked to build on the Wildcats' Sevens success this Fall.
In the opener of the round-robin, the Wildcats took on Scottsdale and took advantage of their deep roster to rotate a number of players. It was two veterans who got the scoring started, however, as Shane Dempsey and Kyle Rogers touched down early to make it 14-0 Arizona. A Matt Rogers try followed by a Garrett Walker score made it 26-0 at halftime, allowing the Wildcats to make substitutions and see other players. One of those standouts was Jeremy Fleet, whose hat-trick in a span of four minutes locked down their first win of the day. Additional tries by Walker and Jake Hedge made it 50-0 Arizona and moved them to 1-0.
Game two saw a stiff test from perennial local power Tempe. Freshman Ben Scoular got momentum going early, however, scoring twice in the first three minutes before Matt Rogers and Dempsey each touched down to make it 24-0 at half. Ryan Hudson continued the theme of fresh legs making an impact, scoring twice in the second half to make it 36-5 Arizona and provide the final margin.
With two wins down, Head Coach Sean Duffy and Assistant Coach Jack Arnold were pleased with the results, and the process, but knew more work was needed. Stressing the finer points heading in to game three against Phoenix, Jonah Eldridge made his presence felt for the first time this season after battling injury, scoring twice to go along with Walker's double and a Hudson try beore Sam Peri's 60 meter galloping try topped off the 38-0 victory in exciting fashion for the Wildcats.
With victory in the tournament assured for the home side, Arizona rolled out a number of different combinations in their final match of the tournament, with Scoular, fellow Freshman Zach Heisterkamp, and Walker once again helping steer the home side to a 24-17 win over a tough Northern Arizona side. The win, while not pretty, helped set the tone for the coming week. "Dug ourselves a hole, but having a game like that where we have to dig out of it is good for us, no matter the opposition" said Duffy.
The 157-22 margin in the tournament victory sets the tone for a much-anticipated Collegiate Rugby Championships campaign June 3-4, with the Wildcats one of three teams to reach the cup semifinals the past two seasons. The Wildcats find themselves in Pool C with UCLA, American International College, and Virginia Tech.
Game 1 vs Scottsdale- W 38-0
Tries: Fleet (3), Walker (2), Dempsey, K. Rogers, M. Rogers, Hedge
Conversions: M. Rogers- 5/6, Dempsey- 2/3
Game 2 vs Tempe- W 36-5
Tries: Scoular (2), Hudson (2), M. Rogers, Dempsey
Conversions: Dempsey- 3/6
Game 3 vs Phoenix- W 38-0
Tries: Walker (2), Eldridge (2), Hudson, Peri
Conversions: Walker- 2/3, Eldridge- 2/3
Game 4 vs Northern Arizona- W 24-17
Tries: Walker (2), Heisterkamp, Scoular
Conversions: M. Rogers- 2/3, Heisterkamp- 0/1