Arizona passes first test in win over Grand Canyon

D1A Rugby: Arizona passes first test in win over Grand Canyon

TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona’s first match utilizing its first XV after a portion of its roster focused on sevens for two months was a success, as the Wildcats topped Grand Canyon University 37-20.

A lack of continuity was obvious for Arizona in the early going, and Grand Canyon took a 5-0 lead midway through the first half. As nerves began to settle, the Wildcats attack started to click. Senior number eight Matt Tomasetti and freshman outside center Tanner Dolby each touched down for Arizona, giving the home team a 13-8 lead at intermission.

Shane Dempsey, who impressed Head Coach Sean Duffy and his staff throughout its sevens season, picked up where he left off scoring a second half try from the full back position. Dolby and Tomasetti added second individual tries, and the Wildcats would eventually outpace the up and coming Lopes for a 17-point win.

“It was a great end to the careers for two of our seniors who graduate next month in scrum half Andrew Pillari and center Andrew Matyas,” said Duffy. “Grand Canyon is a good young team with a bright future led by Ryan Kelly and Merrick Firestone. The atmosphere at Sitton Field Friday night under the lights was fantastic.”

Arizona, playing in the PAC Rugby Conference, joined D1A Rugby this fall and the program has lofty expectations for the spring coming off a season that saw the Wildcats play in the Division I-AA Championship game.

“As for the spring, the sky’s the limit,” Duffy said. “Our goals are to win the PAC and to win the D1A National Championship. We know there are some great teams out there and our schedule will be challenging, but with the effort this group puts in and the support the University has for us, we feel we can strive for the best and that’s what we’re going to preach every day.”

Currently ranked No. 14, Arizona will need to continue to impress during the spring in order to reach the D1A Playoffs. But after gaining Championship experience last season and bringing in a talented group of freshmen who area already pushing for playing time, the Wildcats could be in the hunt to reach their desired goals.