WILDCATS RUN TO CUP FINAL IN THE BAY AREA
Kyle Rogers led a strong Wildcats effort this weekend, falling just short in the Cup Final.
Oct 23- Arizona traveled to the Bay Area for their first tournament of the preseason this past weekend, traveling to Treasure Island for the 2017 West Coast Sevens. Slotted in Pool B alongside Oregon, Cal Poly, and fellow PAC member UCLA, the Wildcats looked to have their hands full with quality opposition in their way of a second straight title.
POOL PLAY: CATS CLINCH POOL B
Game one for the Wildcats matched them up with Oregon in a rematch of last year's Bowl Semifinal in the PAC Sevens. This year's meeting started similar to 2016's, with Ben Joseph touching down twice in the first two minutes for an emphatic start. A Jon Rogers linebreak to set up a Garrett Walker try came next before the Captain Kyle Rogers scored his own to make it 20-0 at halftime. A bit slower pace in the second half led to a tighter scoreline until Zach Heisterkamp set up Robert Figley for the back breaker in the 11th minute, the first in Sevens for the talented Freshman from Virginia, and the final score in the 27-0 victory.
Game two was big for the Wildcats, with another PAC-12 squad in UCLA lined up. While Arizona defeated the Bruins in Fifteens last season, both Sevens fixtures went UCLA's way. Arizona set out for revenge, jumping to a good start on a try by Ryan Hudson that was soon followed up by Walker and converted by Matt Rogers. Hudson continued his strong form, touching down just before half to give the Wildcats a 19-0 lead, then dotting down a third time after a great headsup score by Ben Scoular. The 31-0 win marked a key step, and put the Wildcats at 2-0 heading in to their final match of the day with Cal Poly. The physical tournament hosts set out to give Arizona all they could handle but it was Hudson again striking early, scoring twice in the first five minutes. A Matt Rogers try sealed the win and despite a late Poly score, the Wildcats clinched Pool B with a 22-5 victory.
DAY TWO- FULL FORCE TO THE FINAL
The depth of the Arizona roster was on full display in the Cup Quarterfinals, as some fresh faces in the Sevens pool showed the steps they'd taken since day one. This was encapsulated by the work of players like Lucas Bartzis, who touched down in the first minute before Heisterkamp willed his way to a score in the corner, giving Arizona a 12-0 lead early. The Flanker from Cleveland would touch down once more in the closing minutes to give Arizona a 34-0 victory and advance them to the Cup Semifinal.
The Cup Semifinal matched Arizona up with Utah Valley with the Wildcats seeking their second straight cup final. Matt Rogers showed his pace early, scoring and converting his try three minutes in before Scoular touched down to make it 12-0 Arizona at halftime. Ryan Hudson sealed the Cup Final appearance for the Wildcats late, scoring in the 11th minute and sealing a 17-5 victory and a spot in the cup final for the second straight year.
In the Final, Arizona took on Central Washington in a clash of top teams. It was the big man from California again making his presence felt, as Ryan Hudson scored his seventh of the weekend to make it 5-0. A CWU unconverted try tied things up before Arizona took a quick tap and Scoular dotted down to give Arizona a lead going in to half. The second half saw a bit of controversy, as a tackled CWU player got up to score and give the other Wildcats a 12-10 lead. A CWU try in the corner made it 17-10 but Arizona did not quit, with Anton Grigoriou scoring to make it 17-15 with two minutes left. After securing possession and working their way down the field, a late turnover unfortunately sealed the win for CWU, putting Arizona in 2nd Place in the tournament, a strong showing in their first event of the year but a disappointing end. Head Coach Sean Duffy pointed to the invaluable experience the entire weekend was for the team "gutted to lose the way we did, but we can't let that take away from the huge step taken as a team. We've purposely rotated our rosters, and we'll bring in more new faces for Silicon Valley which will give a lot of guys this exposure." Arizona outscored opponents 146-25, including 80-5 in pool play, to show that the training they have gone through is paying off. Just as important, 11 of 12 players scored on the weekend, a good reward for their hard work.
The Wildcats will head to the Silicon Valley Sevens in two weeks, earning one of eight spots in the inaugural event in Avaya Stadium. The Fall will culminate in the PAC Rugby Sevens Championship hosted by the Wildcats and broadcast on PAC-12 Network.
Game 1 vs Oregon- W 27-0
Tries: Joseph (2), Walker, K. Rogers, Figley
Conv: Walker- 2/5
Game 2 vs UCLA- W 31-0
Tries: Hudson (3), Walker, Scoular
Conv: M. Rogers- 3/5
Game 3 vs Cal Poly- W 22-5
Tries: Hudson (2), Walker, M. Rogers
Conv: M. Rogers- 1/4
Cup Quarterfinal vs USC- W 34-0
Tries: Heisterkamp (2), Bartzis, K. Rogers, J. Rogers, Scoular
Conv: Walker- 2/6
Cup Semifinal vs Utah Valley- W 17-5
Tries: M. Rogers, Scoular, Hudson
Conv: M. Rogers- 1/3
Cup Final vs Central Washington- L 17-15
Tries: Hudson, Scoular, Grigoriou
Conv: Grigoriou- 0/2, M. Rogers- 0/1