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SOC Raptors Hold Off Mustangs, Book Spot in SoCal Final

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SOC Raptors Hold Off Mustangs, Book Spot in SoCal Final

SOC Raptors and San Diego Mustangs players pose after the game all smiles.

Paced by two tries from Jacob Bower the SOC Raptors won yet another nailbiter in Southern California, holding off a determined San Diego Mustangs 24-21 in a midweek clash.

This was quite possibly the best game of the season in SoCal, and was played at a very high level throughout. Physical and highly skilled, the game was played in front of an appreciative crowd, including several San Diego Legion players. The winner would go on to play Thunder Rugby in the SoCal final.

The first 10 minutes of the game was like a boxing match, each team sparring looking for opportunities. Mustangs came close when CJ De Vault was stopped short after a period of pressure, and that was one of several key moments, as the Raptors were able to turn the tables and score a nicely-worked try. Keegan Hannon linked with his brother, Asher, and then Sammy McMillan got involved to put Leo Jay award for the score.

The Raptors went on the offensive again and Macrus Nguyen set up Bower for his first. Keegan Hannon converted and it was 12-0. That’s how it stayed at the break—San Diego missed a penalty right on the stroke of halftime—and well into the second half. But then the Mustangs found paydirt. After a long period of pressure, the Mustangs got a penalty try to make it 12-7. The Mustangs stayed on the attack and a lineout play that found DeVault, and the No. 8 who took it in from outside SOC's 22. 

Conversion good and it was 14-12 San Diego.

With 15 minutes to play a well-worked play from the Hannon boys set up Bower to run 60 meters to score. Keegan Hannon converted and it was 19-14. The Raptors now had their tails up and mounted attack after attack, McMillan, Treister, Borboa, the Hannon brothers, and Jay all contributed, and eventually the Mustangs committed a penalty deep in their own 22.

The Raptors tapped quickly and Keegan Hannon set up Asher Hannon to make it 24-14.

San Diego still had time but needed to score quickly. SOC held on for a while, and seemed to have it all sealed up even as the Mustangs mauled it over to make it 24-21. However, a Raptor player was penalized after the try for an unsportsmanlike action, giving San Diego a penalty at midfield with no time left. The San Diego players opted to go for the lineout, but couldn’t find touch, SOC kicked the ball dead and that was the end of the game.

It was most certainly a wild one, and SOC will no go on to play Thunder this weekend for the SoCal championship. Thunder beat Back bay 78-7 over the weekend. SOC and Thunder are 1-1 against each other so far, 

Thunder beat SOC 12-7 in a preseason game on March 6, and the Raptors beat Thunder 24-21 on May 14.

“This was a massive defensive effort by Raptors,” said Head Coach Sam McMillan.

Isami Hoopi and Troy Norman made tackle after tackle, while hooker Sammy McMillan got four turnovers and Ashbjorn Ross putting in lot of work.

Offensively, the Hannon brothers, along with Bower, McMillan, and Treister were very strong. But perhaps the player of the game was fullback Manny Borboa, who stepped in to fill in for at the position and was superb, positioning himself well, counter-attacking smartly to negate the San Diego field position game, and playing strong defense throughout.

“This was another thriller in SoCal, high in intensity and quality,” said Coach McMillan. “Ramon Samoniega, Matty Sandoval, and Ethan Willis are great coaches, that was clear on the night. Their team came to play. We feel lucky to compete in this league, against so many top-quality teams. It does not get easier we have 5 days rest to get ready for Carlsbad which we know will test us at every level in the SCYR final.”