The ASU men’s rugby team traveled to UCLA for the PAC Sevens Rugby tournament on Nov. 3 and 4 and left California with much momentum.
Coming off an impressive top-four finish in the West Coast Sevens Invitational Oct. 6 through 7, the Sun Devils had high hopes going to Los Angeles.
Saturday started pool play where ASU faced off against Oregon State, USC, Oregon and highly favored No. 3 California.
The Sun Devils started off sharp against the Beavers, holding them to only 12 points in the 24-12 victory.
USC did not present itself as a challenge following the Sun Devils’ first game, as ASU cruised to a 34-10 victory to put itself at 2-0 in pool play.
The top-ranked team in the tournament, California, gave coach Ian Gregor and the Sun Devils the biggest test of the day, but ASU brought its “A” game.
Junior captain Adam Sandstrom led the Sun Devils to a 19-17 upset over the No. 3 Golden Bears for California’s first loss of the season.
ASU rode its wave of confidence over Oregon, winning 24-0 for the last match of pool play on Saturday.
“The teams we played competed hard against us,” ASU coach Ian Gregor said. “We had to earn every win.”
ASU’s 4-0 record on Saturday planted the Sun Devils into the semi-finals against No. 15 Utah on Sunday.
The Utes came prepared to avoid another upset by ASU, taking the victory 24-12. The loss put the Sun Devils in a consolation game for third place against No. 22 UCLA, where ASU lost 28-20 to place fourth.
The top-four finish was the third straight in three tournaments for the Sun Devils. Gregor is pleased with the team’s recent performance, but expects more moving forward.
“The team is happy with their success,” Gregor said. “But we are not satisfied. We want to continue to raise our level of play in the conference and represent ASU well.”
Gregor said seniors Erick Moon, Jason Parkinson, Vince Manna and Nate Chapman provide leadership and seniority for the team that will help the Sun Devils to be successful moving forward.
He said Sandstrom continues to impress as the captain of the team and was proud of freshman Ryan Spiwak for playing the most minutes over the weekend.
“What’s great about this team is that they want to get better and play at the highest level,” Gregor said. “They know we need each other to be successful and achieve our goals.”
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