Two important things came out of Saturday’s match between Belmont Shore and OMBAC, neither of which had all that much to do with Belmont Shore.
The first was the fact that OMBAC almost won. The new, more simple attack plan put together under coach Eugene Mountjoy is starting to show dividends, and the club almost won – what could have been the winning try was held up in-goal.
For the San Diego club, this was an enormous confidence boost, and, despite this being a loss, solidified OMBAC’s sport at 2nd in the league … for now.
The second event was who started at flyhalf for OMBAC. Zach Pangelinan has been out of rugby since last May thanks to a nasty broken ankle. The former (and, he hopes, future) USA 7s player and 15s Eagle hopeful took more than four months to even be able to walk properly.
Since then, he has been under the hugely capable hands of Eddie Ayub, the father figure of American rugby medical care. Saturday he started as flyhalf, and kicked goals, and took care of the restarts.
“It felt really good,” Pangelinan told RUGBYMag.com. “I was actually pretty nervous at the beginning because I didn’t know what to expect. But it was more of a mental thing than anything else. After my first tackle and the first contact with the ball, I started to build up my confidence. I could tell myself, ‘I’m alright.’”
Pangelinan has always been a solid kicker, and while he was working on his comeback he was working on his kicking.
“I can drop-kick from my left foot now, so that’s a new thing,” he said.
All of that was good for Pangelinan, but the flyhalf said the club as a whole took something out of the game.
“The team’s coming along,” he said. “Eugene has put in a different system, a real simple system, but really effective. We’re still kind of getting used to it but the boys are starting to get it down.”
Mountjoy has eschewed set plays in favor of reads that playmakers make. The forwards run hard off the halfbacks and just keep the ball moving. It is simple, but relies on good execution to succeed.
Against Belmont Shore, the execution was there … sometimes.
“We came out of that feeling we beat ourselves,” said Pangelinan. “We made too many turnovers and too many penalties. Once we cut out our penalty count we’ll be a real dangerous team. We’re still working together and learning, but we feel a little more confident now.”
And having a talent like Pangelinan back doesn’t hurt, either.