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Sharks swarm together

June 09, 2005

Bryce Alderton

While being one of only four teams still playing in the country, the

Back Bay Rugby Football Club is pleased with its performance so far,

but remains quite hungry.

"If we don't win a national championship, we are going to be

disappointed," Back Bay Coach Scott Bracken, who also competes for

the Sharks, said.

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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

defense.

"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

said.

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