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By Joe Naiman
Village News Correspondent 

Fallbrook High School girls' rugby places third in high school sevens championship tournament


Last updated 3/5/2018 at 2:32pm

Fallbrook High School’s girls’ rugby team placed third in the So Cal High School Sevens championship tournament, Feb. 17, at Mission Vista High School.

The Warriors won two of their three pool play matches and finished second in the pool on tiebreaking criteria. Fallbrook defeated La Costa Canyon High School in the third-place game.

“We were happy with where we ended up on the day,” Fallbrook co-coach Craig Pinnell said.

The So Cal High School Sevens league consists of a San Diego Division with San Diego County teams, a Los Angeles County Division with Los Angeles County squads and an Orange County Division which also includes teams from Riverside County. Based on the results of league play during the regular season in conjunction with the number of schools in each division, four San Diego Division teams, two Orange County Division clubs and two LA County Division schools were invited to compete in the So Cal High School Sevens championship tournament.

Coronado High School was one of the San Diego Division qualifiers but could not make the trip to the championship tournament, so Mission Vista and La Costa Canyon joined Fallbrook as the San Diego Division representatives. Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Corona and Great Oak High School in Temecula gave Riverside County a sweep of the Orange County Division. Carson High School and View Park Preparatory High School of Los Angeles were the Los Angeles participants.

All games during the championship tournament consisted of seven-minute halves. Fallbrook faced Mission Vista, Roosevelt and View Park during pool play.

The So Cal High School Sevens league rules state that varsity is for 11th-grade and 12th-grade students although “exceptional” freshmen or sophomores who are “physically and emotionally capable” can play varsity with written parental consent. The Warriors only had 11 girls for the So Cal High School Sevens season and only nine of those were present for the championship tournament, which gave Fallbrook only two substitutes.

Fallbrook began pool play with a 24-19 victory over Mission Vista before defeating Roosevelt in a 26-22 contest. The Warriors concluded pool play against View Park, but the Knights pulled out a 24-21 victory.

“That was a very close one,” Pinnell said. “The View Park game, it could have gone either way.”

Fallbrook held a 14-12 halftime lead, and the score was 21-19 in the Warriors’ favor when View Park had possession in the final minute. The Knights scored a try as time ran out, so the conversion kick was not taken.

View Park didn’t need those extra two points from the potential conversion to win the tiebreaker against Fallbrook. Roosevelt’s only win of the tournament was against View Park, so View Park and Fallbrook both had 2-1 pool play records. Head-to-head competition was not considered as tiebreaking criteria; the first tiebreaking criteria were the number of tries each team had, and the Warriors and Knights were even in that statistic. The next tiebreaking criteria were the point differentials, and View Park had a four-point advantage for that statistic.

Fallbrook led at halftime in all three of the Warriors’ pool play matches; the halftime scores were 14-7 against Mission Vista and 21-0 against Roosevelt.

“We had a hard time in the second half,” Pinnell said. “We let the other teams in.”

Second place in the pool pitted Fallbrook against La Costa Canyon for the third-place match. The Warriors had a 7-0 lead at halftime and won by a 28-0 margin.

“They fixed that in the final game,” Pinnell said. “We scored a lot of points the second half.”

Carson defeated View Park in the championship game. Last year Fallbrook won the championship with a 28-0 victory over View Park in the final.

The Warriors made 12 of 15 conversion kicks during their four matches.

“Pretty good for the day,” Pinnell said.

Defense was designated as an area for improvement.

“We’re going to have to work on that a little bit more,” Pinnell said.

Fallbrook captain Nathalie Belis scored two tries in each match.

“She is very consistent,” Pinnell said.

Vice Captain Morgan Bitner had one try in each game, and she also scored two conversion kicks. Belis did not take any conversion kicks.

The Warriors will play seven-a-side rugby at the Las Vegas Invitational tournament, March 1-3, and will compete in the 15-a-side Fullerton Youth Rugby International Tournament when that competition is played, March 19-20.


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