UTAH RECAP: ARIZONA FIGHTS HARD BUT FALLS IN FINAL EIGHT
#5 Utah 36
#12 Arizona 14
Scrumhalf Jonah Eldridge '18 and the Wildcats joined the 2010 Arizona side in finishing in the nation's top eight this season.
April 24- Arizona traveled to Salt Lake City this past weekend for the D1A Quarterfinals, taking on #5 Utah in a rematch of a January match in Tucson. Despite the downpour, Arizona's strong defense and decision making led to a first half lead, as a Bryce Mantell try was sandwiched by two Adam Wilson penalties to give the Wildcats an 11-5 lead going in to the break.
In the second half, however, the veteran Utah side began to turn the tide in front of a home crowd, taking advantage of Arizona penalties and slipping tackles to take a 12-11 lead early in the half. Another Utah try and successful conversion was answered by Wilson, who cut the lead to 19-14 with plenty of time left to play. Arizona was undone by penalties and Ute pressure, however, as the lead was stretched by two Utah tries, ending the Wildcats season in the quarterfinals for 2016.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Sean Duffy was proud of the way his team fought and looked to the bright future with a great deal of youth on the field in Salt Lake City. "Just like we own our wins, we must own our losses. If we do that, it'll help us learn what went wrong, fix it, and get back to this stage and advance" said Duffy. "we have high expectations, and while some teams are playing friendlies, playing in bowl games, or playing in invitationals, we got a taste this year of playoff Rugby and we hope to have more of that next year."
Arizona's season is a sign of a progress for the historic program, as the Wildcats' run this year ties the 2010 team for the highest finish in team history. With a high proportion of key players returning next season and increased support from both alumni and university, the future is bright for Arizona.
The Wildcats now turn their attention to Sevens, as they start preparations for the 2016 Collegiate Rugby Championships in Philadelphia. Last year, Arizona finished in the top four, and this year looks to take the next step at the nationally televised event.
Conversions: Wilson- 3/4
Penalties: Wilson- 1/1