OMBAC gave Belmont Shore quite a scare Saturday in a SoCal DI league match that ended 31-26 for the Long Beach club.
Shore Head Coach Ray Egan wasn’t bothered by the tightness of the game – which ended with OMBAC getting held up in-goal under the posts, a try that, had it been scored, would likely have won the game for the San Diegans. Instead, Egan welcomed the stern test for his players.
“OMBAC really put it to us,” Egan said with admiration. “They put quite a lot of pressure on us and that led to a lot of mistakes from us, and that generated points for them.”
Egan said his players were trying hard, but just weren’t adjusting to the pressure well.
“You really want to test players from start to finish in a season, but the only way your guys are going to learn to play under pressure is to encounter it in games,” he said. “So this was especially valuable for the young players, and it was even better that we managed to win.”
Egan singled out hooker Mike Teo, a product of Belmont Shore’s U19 program and starting because Zack Fenoglio has been hurt. In what the coach described as a battle of front rows, Teo, Jake Grubbs and Brice Schilling all stood out in the Shore front three. But the young Teo had to make some plays under pressure.
“For me personally as a coach it’s great to get a game like that and actually come through it, and see players the likes of Mike come through it too,” Egan said.
Belmont Shore ran out to a 3-0 lead before OMBAC’s intense defensive pressure forced a turnover, leading to a try. Up 7-3 OMBAC kicked a penalty to make it 10-3, but then Shore scored to tie it up.
OMAC scored another try and a penalty to lead 18-10, but Shore scored a crucial try just before halftime to stay within a point.
That’s how the game progressed. Both teams scored tries, giving OMBAC a slim 25-24 lead with time winding down.
With five minutes to go Shore scored to take the lead, and, as outlined, just barely held on.
“The more competitive game the better you can adjust and prepare for tougher games down the line,” said Egan. “This was a really good test that could have gone either way. In the end it was a matter of control. We made a couple of silly errors and there are things we need to fix, but it was a good game, and a good test.”