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Gaels Coach, Captain - Saturday Not Good Enough

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Gaels Coach, Captain - Saturday Not Good Enough

Michael Geib photo.

When the Saint Mary's Gaels came off the field Saturday after beating Arizona 43-7 in the DIA semis, they were about to receive a dressing down from Head Coach Tim O'Brien.

And far from their coach's ire being a let-down after a ky victory, the fireside chat was expected.

"Coming off the field we knew we hadn't performed well," said Saint Mary's captain Kevin O'Connor. "You sometimes have those games where you lose but you put everything you had into it and it feels like you did everything to win. Then you have these games where you win and it feels like a loss. If Tim wasn't going to say anything, I would have."

The Gaels scored six tries, and allowed only the one at the end of the game, and booked a fifth-straight spot in the DIA final, so what's the big deal? In a word, OK, two words, Turnovers and Penalties.

"I am not looking at the scoreline; I don't care about the scoreline," O'Brien told Goff Rugby Report after the game. "I am looking at our performance. We want to be efficient. We want to be accurate. In terms of stringing play together, we were incapable of stringing long periods of moments together. Arizona is a great opponent and they're an up-and-coming team, but if you can't do that against some of these big-boy teams, you're in trouble."

Saint Mary's employed their tactics 

"But under no pressure, we committed an ungodly amount of errors," said O'Brien. "If you want to throw your hat in the rung against the Lifes, BYUs, Cals, Lindenwoods of the world, you do that and you'll lose by 50, easy. We're going to have to be near perfect to beat Life."

The numbers are right there - 22 turnovers, and 14 penalties. Many of those penalties they didn't need to commit. Saint Mary's has shown they can play defense for long periods and eventually get the ball back. They've shown they can get to the ball quickly and win rucks. 

"You look at our game against Cal and we committed six penalties the whole game," said O'Connor. "We know what it takes at this level, and it's better than what we did against Arizona. We had a lack of discipline in the breakdown. We are a good bend-don't-break defense but we got away from that. I know for me I've got to be more of a coach on the field."

O'Brien said the signs of a difficult game to come could be seen Friday, when the Gaels had a poor practice.

"Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect, and poor practice makes poor," said O'Brien. "Not taking anything away from Arizona, but we've got to look at ourselves, and that was not a winning performance."

"The good thing is, we've got five days of practice to address it," added O'Connor. 

Win or lose, they don't like the post-match feeling they had on Saturday.