Written by the referee Larry Freitas
The game had an early start because UCSC had to get back to campus to study for finals. I arrived at the pitch at the former Fort Ord to find both teams warming up, and indeed they needed to with my car’s thermometer registering 48F and the skies partly cloudy. The screen on the fence to the east had been taken down since last I officiated a match there, and with clear skies one could see the Gabilan Range off the to east, offering a great view. The kickoff was at 10:05, and about five minutes later UCSC scored what was to be the first of three unconverted tries in the half. This is a rebuild year for UCSC, and they had brought nearly thirty players, so the side taking the pitch for the first half was the more experienced of the two, and it showed as they were able to answer a Monterey Bay try with another two, and a few players who got little time to play last year were getting a chance to show what they could do. The Otter try was fashioned after a long run by their full back from half way, only to be tackled short of the line and knocking on. The subsequent scrum five found the Banana Slug scrum half hounded enough by her opposite number to make a bad pass to the right wing in goal, who then fly-hacked the ball back toward where the base of the scrum was. Monterey’s scrum half, Sabrina Bacaungan, all of 5’1” tall I would say, fell on the ball about a meter short of the line, and as I shouted at her to release the ball, she passed it off to a teammate who then dove into the in goal for their first try of the match, making the score 5-5 temporarily. Things were starting to warm up, literally and figuratively.
In the second half UCSC had replaced a number of players with first year players, and there was much scruffy play, as both teams were showing that some weren’t completely aware of the laws of the game. The play did flow enough in that I tried to play as much advantage as possible to the non-offending side. CSUMB were able to score three tries in the half and take the lead and hold it in the last sixteen minutes of play. The first try was from a scrum five when Bacaungan scooped a ball up at her number 8’s feet and darted past defenders to touchdown. The tying score was also CSUMB’s Bacaungan’s, anticipating and intercepting a pass on Monterey’s own ten meter line after UCSC won ruck ball, and outpacing a few UCSC players to score near the posts. I didn’t think she’d make it as I chased play, but a quick change of direction by glancing back paid off, shaking off the last would-be tackler to cross the line. She was soon substituted with another player, getting an ovation from supporters. Another try some ten minutes later also came from some nifty running by CSUMB’s back division. That try was right under the posts, and the conversion was good to give them a seven point lead. The students on the touchlines, some of whom were of the men’s team waiting to train post game, and Monterey’s subs, couldn’t have been more excited, when those last two tries were scored, and when I whistled for no side. This was CSUMB Women’s first win after the team was resurrected last year. Their coach, Alena Porte, should be proud. Kevin Miske, UCSC’s coach, is also hopeful that his new players are going to improve and have a good year. Regarding Sabrina Bacaungan, I only can say that for a player new to the game she has some instincts to run with the ball in hand that can’t be coached or learned. She was definitely “Woman of the Match.”
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