So far, it’s been a really good weekend for the Northeast Olympic Development Academy. In London, the New York team, made up by ODA players and a few extra guys sprinkled in, won the Plate at World Club 7s at Twickenham. And in Glendale, Colo., what essentially equates to the Northeast’s second side is undefeated heading into the Cup Quarterfinals of Serevi RugbyTown Sevens.
The Northeast opened the competition against the tournament’s namesake team in the Serevi Selects, a side mostly comprised of National Champion Seattle-OPSB players. The Northeast established who the better team was early on and never let up, smothering Serevi 31-5.
“I thought we physicaled them up pretty well,” said Northeast coach Josh Smith. “I thought early on a couple of guys made some big hits to get the turnovers and that really got us going.
“We looked at our pool with three quality sides in that pool, obviously with Serevi first, and we looked at it as early in the game would be our best opportunity to get them. We really wanted to pressure them on defense, use some contact on offense to create some space. I think we were plus three or plus four in the restarts.”
The Northeast kept the pedal to the metal the entire opening day, blasting the USA Falcons, which was essentially the All Americans’ second side, 31-17 and the Royal Air Force 35-21. The Northeast got big plays from a lot of guys, including Mike Hunnewell, Duran Vota, Jared Collinson and Jordan Badia-Bellinger.
But maybe their most impressive player was Michael St. Claire. The speedy wing graduated from Stony Brook in the spring and played all summer with Long Island. He’s turned heads before with the Seawolves, at College 7s Nationals in 2011 and the Las Vegas Invitational, but Saturday’s stage was maybe the biggest he’s played on.
“He’s a guy that we’d kind of been hoping would have a breakout here. Pretty solid summer with Long Island. He just missed the London side, but he was a guy we figured this weekend we were going to be able to showcase,” said Smith. “His confidence was something we were working on and we told him, if they give you the outside we want you to have a go, and you saw that early on. His confidence right now, he can have a go right now with anybody.”
The Northeast will have a go at the host Glendale Raptors in the Cup Quarterfinals today, and if they play as well as they did Saturday, they’ll be one step closer to the $10,000 grand prize after 14 minutes.