Cal Poly and No. 9 San Diego State will wrap up their California Conference schedules this Saturday in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The two teams met in January in a preseason friendly, which the Aztecs won 13-8.
It was a good measuring stick for both teams to begin the New Year according to Aztecs head coach Alex Lichtig. Since then San Diego State’s mistakes have dropped and the team’s improvements have far outweighed on the pitch mistakes.
Regardless, the same can be said for Cal Poly, and Lichtig expects nothing less than a faster, more physical grind between the two clubs.
“Our team has evolved and grown since the first early season match-up. We’re still working to improve, but I think we have started to settle into a more consistent playing style on attack and have shown some more perseverance on defense,” said Lichtig.
The Aztecs have been keeping busy overseas since their upset win over ranked Army by traveling to the country of Georgia. As part of a celebration of 25 years of diplomacy, the U.S. embassy in Tbilisi hosted the Aztecs and was topped off by a friendly 55-15 win against the Georgia Devebi Rugby Club. Additionally, Lichtig’s squad helped run a kids clinic, as well as train at the Georgian National Academy.
It was an experience and lesson of a lifetime for many players.
“The tour to Georgia was a special experience for our program and our players. The boys were lucky enough to experience the larger picture of sport and how rugby can be a catalyst for larger issues,” Lichtig added. “To think that our team was selected by the U.S.… and to be guests of our satellite campus at SDSU Georgia is humbling. The players will forever cherish being ambassadors of the our sport, our University and our country.”
Those experiences hope to translate after a quick turnaround flight back to California. Cal Poly’s biggest trump card is the versatility of its offense. In the last two games alone 11 different Mustangs have touched down, including eight man Dustin Mollard who scored three times in those matches.
Mollard was the first name that jumped out to Lichtig among the many threats the Aztecs expect this weekend. Combined with fullback/center Mark Grzanich, wing Ivy Adair, and three MCAA Id Camp veterans Connor Cudeback, Nathan Sylvia and Alex Wormer, Cal Poly has quickly molded in to a flexible offensive threat throughout the spring.
Lichtig summed up the Mustangs in one word: dangerous.
“They have a diversely talented side that cause multiple issues defensively,” he added. “We will hope to weather the storm of their attack and try to poke a few holes here and there when we have ball in hand. It’s never easy traveling to San Luis Obispo and playing a strong Cal Poly side.”
With jetlag and the hours of travel now in the back seat for San Diego State, Cal Poly is just as primed to get a win in their final regular season game. With the added potential of a D1A Playoff bid on the line as well, expect the Aztecs to be playing like it is the postseason already come Saturday.
Defense has been San Diego State’s key in several matches this year, including the Army match. On offense Kevin McGlone has been consistent all year on the pitch alongside wing Jacob Zinda, who is tied with McGlone for the most tries over the last three games with four.