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Long Beach Poly Gets Its SoCal Title

  • 07 Mar 2023
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Long Beach Poly rugby

Long Beach Poly capped a dominant season with a Southern California Youth Rugby (SCYR) Girls’ High School 7s Championship. The title was a first for the Los Angeles-area team, which marked the occasion with three shutouts in the final tournament and the unseating of the reigning champion in the title match.

RELATED: Poly Aspires to SoCal Title (Feb. 11, 2023)

The field was divided into two pools of three, and then crossovers marked the knockout rounds. Long Beach Poly started the day against Rancho Bernardo, which fielded multiple sides this season. Head coach Robert Pahulu praised his team’s ability to keep the ball in hand and alive for the majority of the game, and highlighted newer players Selieni Paseka, Amylia Petaia and Denise Herrera-Cruz for their defensive output. Long Beach Poly won 38-0.

The shutout continued into round two, when Long Beach Poly defeated defending champion Fallbrook 59-0.

“My veteran girls stepped up big in this game,” Pahulu praised. “Defense was on point. The plan was to keep the ball alive, commit early in every ruck and stay aggressive on defense. And they did just that!”

Khalea Pahulu, Sydney-Rae Pua, Renny Jennings-Faletoi and Jendell Moe were big in the tackle and pushed an aggressive defense. Nila Lolesio-Pua, Lolua Tauanu’u, Aries Popoali’i and captain Gianna Diaz were instrumental on offense, setting up teammates for try-scoring success in the 59-0 win.

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Long Beach Poly faced San Marcos in the semifinals posted 56 unanswered points en route to the final.

“Everyone contributed in this game,” Pahulu explained. “Freshman ruggers Selieni Paseka, Ezralynn Fa’atiliga and Loa Duong impressed me the most with their key plays both on offense and defense.  It’s good to see the new girls step up and play a big role.”

Fallbrook had advanced out of pool play and topped Rancho Bernardo’s top side 28-17 in the semifinals. The championship match was closer than the finalists’ first meeting.

“In the first half, our pop passes kept us alive and well in this game,” Pahulu reviewed the final. “Again we needed to keep the ball alive and in our hands. Our approach was to control the pace of the game and in our favor.”

The coach pointed out Jendell Moe, Sydney-Rae Pua and Khalea Pahulu, whose defensive pressure and big hits stifled Fallbrook.

 

 

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“Second half, we slipped a bit defensively and Fallbrook capitalized on our miscues and scored twice,” the coach continued. “Our offense didn’t take long to adjust. Huge plays led by captain Gianna Diaz, Lolua Tauanu’u, Renny Jennings-Faletoi and Aries Popoali’i helped set up new rugger Denise Herrera-Cruz to two, back-to-back [tries] to keep us in the lead and eventually seal the victory!”

Long Beach Poly prevailed 27-10 for its first-ever SCYR Girls’ High School 7s Championship.

“Everyone stepped up on tournament day” Pahulu closed. “Our veteran players showed great leadership. My new girls knew what was expected and stuck with the game plan. This team effort finished the day through four games with a combined score of 180-10.”

Players will now disperse onto high school clubs for the SCYR club season. Expect to see many of the Long Beach Poly players in Belmont Shore kit. Stay tuned.

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HIGH SCHOOL

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