The Santa Barbara Olympic Development Academy kicked-off their 2016-17 campaign this past Thursday with a shock defeat of the touring New Zealand Institute of Sport with a final score of 32-24. Santa Barbara kept the Kiwis on the back foot all match with their physicality and pace at the break down.
A jarring hit by by winger Jimi Alvarez (Peninsula Green) saw Outside Center Moni Tongauiha (Oakland Warthogs) dive on the loose ball for the opening try 6 minutes into the match. Fly-half Herald Hernandez (Central Washington) added the extra points. The Kiwis answered right back with a try of their own off the ensuing kickoff, picking off an ambitious Santa Barbara pass to touchdown between the posts. A successful conversion brought the score to seven apiece with barely eight minutes off the clock. Hernandez would connect on a penalty infringement by the New Zealand to put Santa Barbara up by three. The Kiwis would storm back with a slick back line move coming off a maul to take their first lead of the match.
Hooker Pepe Semeraro’s (Dixon, CA) bruising run would leave several defenders in his wake as he touched down left of the posts. The Academy dotted down again just before half as Man-of the Match Center Austin Kiel (British Virgin Islands) out paced the defense for his first of two tries. This put Santa Barbara in front 22-19 at the half.
The Academy started the second stanza much like the first, with Austin Keil and Luke Malek-Zedah both touching down to seal the victory. “I’m very happy with our performance today “ said Coach Kevin Battle. “For our first run of the season, I was impressed with our intensity and accuracy at the break down. We have plenty to work on but anytime you get a win over the Kiwis, it’s a pretty special day.”
Next up, the Santa Barbara ODA will travel to San Diego State to take on the Aztecs.
Santa Barbara ODA 32
New Zealand Institute of Sport 22
Tries: Keil (2) Semeraro, Tongauiha, Malek-Zedah
Covs: Hernandez (2)