Shutout highlights Aztecs’ route of Gauchos

D1A Rugby: Shutout highlights Aztecs’ route of Gauchos
Photo Credit: Bryan Cox

BOULDER, Colo. – San Diego State was able to even its California Conference record to 1-1 after blanking UC Santa Barbara, 45-0.

“It was a good bounce-back after a tough game against Saint Mary’s,” said San Diego State Head Coach Alex Lichtig. “We are still developing as a team and progressing each week, so it’s nice for the boys to get the result.”

The back three took care of the first half scoring for the Aztecs. Wings Lukas Wehner and Jacob Gonzales dotted down before full back Ari Flink added a try in the 34th minute.

Freshman Brett Rameil, who filled in for banged-up fly half and captain Austin Switzer, showed great potential and converted all three first-half tries to help give his side a 21-0 advantage at intermission.

San Diego State outdid itself in the second half by adding four more tries. Lock Ryan Walls and outside center Nick Lupian went over the line before Flink added his second. Anxious to add to the scoring fray, reserve wing Jake Dani closed the scoring at the 78th minute and pushed the Aztec lead to 45-0.

The seven tries was an impressive strike rate, but it was an unyielding defensive presence that excited the Aztec coaching staff.

“Although our performance was lacking in certain areas, our physicality and defensive effort were great,” noted Lichtig. “UC Santa Barbara have some solid running players and moved the ball well, but our guys displayed a relentless pursuit on defense, and were physical in the tackle.”

Only one of the seven Aztec tries was scored from within the forward pack, but that’s not to say the forwards weren’t doing their share of the work.

“There wasn’t a conscious attempt to work the ball out wide,” Lichtig said. “Although we scored on the outside, it was our interior play that created opportunities for the outside backs.”

San Diego State’s next fixture is March 5 against fellow Canterbury D1A Top 20 team Santa Clara. For the Gauchos, things only get more difficult when Saint Mary’s comes to town Feb. 27. The No. 1-ranked Gaels will be eager to make amends for their recent one-point loss to BYU.