Written by the referee Larry Freitas
I arrived at CSUMB about noon on Saturday after a tedious drive down Highway One, with traffic bumper to bumper from just south of Watsonville through Moss Landing. After Friday’s rains, the skies had become mostly sunny, and the temperature was in the mid-60’s, with a strong breeze coming off the ocean not much more than a mile from the pitch. There’s a screen wrapped around the fence on the west side, and inside the ground, one would have hardly noticed the wind at all. Monterey Bay, wearing brand new navy blue jerseys that were the correct size for women, won the toss and elected to kick off to Sacramento State. By three minutes time, the Lady Otters had scored the first try of the match, by none other than senior Sabrina Bacuangan, who once again darted with the ball from loose play, leaving would be tacklers behind. At 12 minutes the home team would be on the Hornet’s doorstep, scoring from a 5-meter scrum when Sabrina dotted down. Both these initial tries were converted by fly-half Katy McGill, who was to do some running of her own during this match. CSUMB was very dominant this half, scoring three more tries until finally, at 35 minutes, Sacramento State scored when their number 8 picked up at the back of an awarded 5-meter scrum and bulled her way over for their first unconverted try. Before halftime a tap penalty that was given to Sacrament State 5 meters out was run in for the visitor’s second try for another five points. Halftime score read 31-10, and three tries had been scored by Bacuangan, whose ability to side-step tacklers has been noted throughout the season. It’s too bad she is a senior, playing in her one and only season for her school’s side.
The second half started with CSUMB scoring two quick tries, and it seemed that another was on when McGill had intercepted a pass as Sacramento State penetrated into CSUMB’s quarter. This gal has some speed, as well as the ability to side-step from tacklers, and it seemed she might be running the ball all the way to the other team’s in goal when she was tackled from behind near the opposition 22. A ruck formed quickly, and the ball was picked up by a Hornet, the only one in the ruck on their side of the breakdown, who then passed it on to their number 8, who had managed to get back in support, and then had a clear path to score a try at 62 minutes, as nearly all the Otters had followed up and were caught flat footed by the turn of events. Two more tries would follow for CSUMB, the last from a lineout in Sacramento State’s quarter, with Sac State throwing in and losing, and the loosehead prop of CSUMB was able to score from the play that followed. McGill converted from near the touchline out about 30 meters, and that kick might have brought the most applause from the supporters, who numbered near 100, students and parents alike. Near full-time Sacramento State would score from a tap penalty that was given from 10 meters out from CSUMB’s line. The final score was a season-high 48 points for Cal State Monterey, to Sacramento State’s 20.
Having refereed quite a few CSUMB WR matches this season, I was very impressed by the improvement in the play of their backline. McGill at flyhalf, changing position from fullback in late February, has been a great difference. The ball was shifted a number of times during this match through the three quarters to the wing, and in defense, their full-back was able to counter-attack from some kicks that failed to reach touch several times. Regarding scrum half Sabrina Bacuangan, she plans on returning to her Seattle home after graduation next month and is thinking of continuing her rugby career up there with either the Breakers or Puget Sound. I’m convinced if she were just a few inches taller she could play rugby at a representative level, even perhaps making the Eagles, she is that good, not just on offense, as she doesn’t flinch when it comes to making a tackle. Perhaps her size will not hold her back anyway, and if there is a player who could overcome size as a handicap, she’s it. This is supposed to be a game for people of all sizes, regardless of gender. What other sport has dictated positional assignments based somewhat on body type and size?
Sacramento State was sorely missed as a competitor for the majority of the season, and I’m sure they are looking forward to having a full season’s worth of matches for next year.