Back Bay, based in Newport Beach, will face Charlotte in a men's
club Division I national semifinal at 3 p.m. Saturday at a field
titled "Little Q," positioned in the southwest corner of Qualcomm
Stadium's parking lot in San Diego.
The Sharks (14-3) have won four straight playoff games and are
making their second final four appearance in the program's 20-year
history. Santa Monica will play top-seeded Worcester in the other
semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday.
A win today and Back Bay would play in its first national final at
3 p.m. Sunday.
After finishing third in the Red Division during the regular
season behind Santa Monica and Old Mission Bay, respectively, the
Sharks have reeled off impressive victories against formidable foes.
In the round of 16 in Grand Rapids, Mich., last month,
seventh-seeded Back Bay tallied a 23-8 victory against Life College
before knocking off the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, the two-time
defending national champions, 19-18, on a last-second 45-yard kick
from Matt Busko.
Defense has keyed the Sharks' run, Bracken said.
Newport has allowed an average of 10 points in four playoff games.
"A month ago, players became focused," Bracken said. "It's hard to
explain, but everyone bought into what we were trying to do. Players
started to understand and see how well the system works that we had
been trying to run all year."
Bracken said the Sharks' second playoff game, against Seattle, was
Back Bay's best of the year.
"Everyone was playing within the system," he said. "No one tried
to do everything on their own."
The Sharks have focused most of their practice time honing their
"We've got extremely skilled and fast people, so we can score
points," Bracken said. "Defense is all about heart. If you want to
tackle somebody, you tackle somebody."
The Sharks defeated Light and Boston without two key players,
David Fee and Jacob Waasdorp, who were competing for the United
States team in international play.
Back Bay captain Brian Surgener is also a U.S. Eagle. Back Bay's
Greg Smith and Eric Anderson were also selected to the U.S. team, but
chose not to play for the team due to work responsibilities, Bracken