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Three Years Gone from 15s, Los Al Opens Up 2-0

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Three Years Gone from 15s, Los Al Opens Up 2-0

Los Alamitos in blue. Photo Rachelle Delgado De La Cruz.

Los Alamitos Boys have hit the ground running in Southern California.

And that's a good thing seeing as the team hasn't played 15-a-side rugby since 2019 thanks to the COVID pandemic.

"It feels great to have a full team again," said club president Steve Faupusa. 

They opened their season on January 13 with a dramatic, one-point victory over rivals Long Beach Poly, but really the key games might have been the warmup scrimmages before the Christmas break. In those two scrimmages they tied Orange Lutheran, which is a new team but had a number of experienced players. In the second matchup they took on Torrey Pines, which beat them, but taught the players much.

"Torrey Pines showcased their speed offensively and defensively which gave our boys some problems but the boys came back strong in the second half," said Faupusa. "With these two scrimmages before the season, I feel it really helped tighten some things up."

In the opener against Long Beach Poly freshman scrumhalf/flyhalf Lenny Ibarra scored two tries and another freshman, Nasser El-Zein, also touched down. That was good enough to get the Los Al side within a try at 26-22. Then Ibarra and prop Manoah Faupusa (another freshman) made inroads into the LB Poly half. From there Ibarra saw a chance and popped a kick over the defense for flanker Nathaniel De La Cruz to chase down. De La Cruz made a dive for the ball and scored what would prove the game-winner.

It was a dramatic victory for Los Al and set them up nicely for what they expected to be an easier game with Rancho Cucamonga. But you can't just assume. Rancho battled hard and it was 7-7 at halftime. Ibarra had once again scored for Los Al.

However, Los Alamitos settled down in the second half and played some better defense, which allowed them to retain possession. 

Manoah Faupusa and Jack Ryan found the tryline and Michael Martinez made it 3-for-3 on conversions for a 21-7 victory.

Back on the field is a win for Los Al; a 2-0 league start is even better.

And they've done it with a freshman-heavy lineup, including Lenny Ibarra, Gavin Vera, Nasser El-Zein, Zander Stevens, and Manoah Faupusa, all of whom have contributed.

Next up for Los Alamitos is John Muir HS and then Clairemont HS. They do not have Carlsbad on their schedule ... we might have to wait for playoffs for that.