by Brett Anker
Central Washington hammered Utah 58-5 to advance to the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. After two years in a row of close contests in the quarterfinals, the Wildcats ran away with the 2016 contest to claim its 3rd consecutive win over Utah.
Despite winning the game handily, the match got off to a rocky start for Central Washington. Utah played the first 20 minutes of the match inside the CWU 22. A number of penalties resulted in the referee going to his wallet on multiple occasions. For roughly seven minutes of the half, the Wildcats played with 12 men on the field. Nonetheless the Central Washington defense didn’t break.
“I really commend our guys for playing fantastic defense against a quality opponent when we were down a few members in the first half,” CWU Head Coach Tony Pacheco said. “It was a gutsy gutsy performance by the 12 who were on the field. We have to be better with our discipline, so we do not put ourselves in these types of situations.”
After weathering the storm, Central Washington struck first through Aladdin Schirmer. Clint Lemkus added the second, while Scott Dean and Dominic Lindstrom each tallied their first of multiple on the day. At half, the Wildcats led 26-0.
“It was just a matter of us getting our hands on the ball,” Pacheco added. “For the first 20 minutes we defended the entire time, and were in survival mode. When we were able to get back to full strength and get our hands on the ball, we carried very well. There was a lot of support all over the field and were able to maintain possession and score tries,”
The Wildcats exploded for five more tries in the second while Utah only managed a single score. CWU dominated in the scrum, disrupting Utah ball, and providing a platform for the backline. Dean needed no other invitation as he dotted down two more times in the second half to complete the hat trick.
“We were able to give him a lot of front foot ball… and when we were on the front foot they just were not able to transfer across the field quick enough. He was able to take a couple gaps and score a couple nice tries,” Pacheco said of Dean.
Central Washington will travel to Strawberry Canyon to take on Cal next weekend.