CATS SHOW WELL IN RUN TO CUP FINALS
Kyle Rogers and Jonah Eldridge were all smiles after a 2-0 day at Silicon Valley Sevens but fell in the Cup Final to CWU. (photo credit: Alex Ho)
Nov 7- Arizona continued their preseason Sevens gauntlet this past weekend, traveling to the Silicon Valley Sevens in San Jose to participate in the Penn Mutual Fall Classic at Avaya Stadium. Despite another rotation of players being selected, the Wildcats continued their strong form, finishing as Cup Finalists after a tense lose to Central Washington.
DAY ONE- WILDCATS TAKE DOWN CARDINAL & CAL POLY
Arizona kicked off the tournament against fellow PAC-12 member Stanford, with the Cardinal having some home field advantage to start the event. The Wildcats got things started early though under the leadership of Ben Joseph, with the Center touching down in the first minute before a Garrett Walker try made it 12-0 just five minutes in. Ryan Hudson finished the half for the Cats with a try of his own to make it 17-0 going in to the break. The second half was all Granite Bay for the Wildcats, with impact sub Jon Rogers scoring a hat trick and Walker scoring his second to round out the 39-0 victory.
With one victory down, Arizona set out to take on Cal Poly in a rematch of two weeks ago at the West Coast Sevens. Another quick start by the Wildcats on three tries by Rogers and Walker got things going but the Mustangs would respond, cutting in to the 17-0 halftime lead with two quick scores. Veteran Jonah Eldridge sealed the game with a great read and diving score to make it 22-10 and book a rematch with Central Washington in the Semifinal.
DAY TWO- CUP FINAL REMATCH
Arizona advanced to a semifinal in the unique double elimination format, taking on varsity program Central Washington to kick off the morning. A tight 0-0 halftime score belied some strong Arizona play, but that was derailed early in the second period, with two quick CWU tries making it 10-0 before a third near the end sent the Wildcats to the play-in semifinal against San Diego State.
In the first match up between the teams this Fall, it was the Aztecs who took advantage of some sloppy Arizona play, leaping out to a 7-5 lead at halftime with a lone Garrett Walker try for the Wildcats. The second half was all Arizona, however, as Ryan Hudson, Kyle Rogers, and Ben Scoular along with two Jonah Eldridge conversions spearheaded a 19-0 second half scoreline and the 24-7 victory to advance them to the Cup Final in their second straight tournament.
The cup final was a rematch of earlier in the day and a rematch of the West Coast Sevens two weeks prior, with Arizona looking to even the score against the other Wildcats. This time it was Arizona who started well, with Jon Rogers touching down in the corner and Eldridge converting to make it 7-0 early. A CWU try in response made it 7-5 before a second made it 10-7. Ryan Hudson would get the final say in the first period, touching down under the posts allowing for an Eldridge conversion to give Arizona a 14-10 lead going in to the break. With some momentum building, it looked as if the Wildcats would take home their first cup victory of the preseason until some late game mistakes led to a CWU try in the 12th minute. Never giving up, Arizona secured possession on a Ben Joseph poach and had the ball with time expired before a handling error sealed it for CWU, putting Arizona as runners up again but providing invaluable experience for the team as they head in to PAC 7s.
Head Coach Sean Duffy was proud of his team's effort, particularly their bounce back from a disappointing morning. "We drop the first to this group 15-0 and then have a lead at half in the rematch which shows a lot. Credit to CWU they are a good side, and this was huge for us to get a whole new batch of players this experience in such a fantastic tournament. We rotated bodies, went 4-1 on the whole and saw a lot of growth that will help us this coming week and in the regular season." The tournament was an auxiliary event for the inaugural Silicon Valley Sevens featuring eight international sides and a healthy crowd at the home of Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes.
Arizona now moves on to the PAC Sevens at home this weekend where they will assemble their top side and look to take on the conference's best at Kino Sports Complex in front of a national television audience on the PAC-12 Network.
GAME 1 vs STANFORD- W 39-0
Tries: J. Rogers (3), Walker (2), Joseph, Hudson
Conv: Walker- 1/3, Eldridge- 1/1, Thayer- 0/2
GAME 2 vs CAL POLY- W 22-10
Tries: Walker (2), J. Rogers, Eldridge
Conv: Eldridge- 1/4
GAME 3 vs CWU- L 15-0
GAME 4 vs SDSU- W 24-7
Tries: Walker, Hudson, K. Rogers, Scoular
Conv: Eldridge- 2/3, J. Rogers- 0/1
CUP FINAL vs CWU- L 15-14
Tries: J. Rogers, Hudson
Conv: Eldridge- 2/2