In it to win it: Rugby advances to Final Four on 25-18 win versus Cal-Santa Barbara

All year, the Ute rugby team’s mantra has been “In it to win it.”

They weren’t kidding.

After trouncing Purdue on Friday in the Sweet 16, the Utes continued their hot streak on Saturday, knocking off host UCSB 25-18 to advance to the Final Four.

“The biggest thing was our mental discipline,” head coach Mark Numbers said.

The Utes needed all the discipline they could get to overcome the stiff Gaucho defense. UCSB held a 15-3 lead at halftime, as the Utes had a tough time penetrating.

“We didn’t show up to play in the first half,” Numbers said. adjusted to their play in the second and stepped it up.”

Early in the second, the Utes finally started to get things going. The coach pointed to better ball control as the reason for the rally.

“We knew we had to keep possession in order to score,” Numbers said. “Our offense was our best defense. We kept the ball away from them.”

The Utes would finally make a try, cutting the score to 15-10. They quickly added a few more scores to give them the final edge of 25-18.

UCSB would attempt to get back in the game, but their final rally fell short, giving the Utes a ticket to the national semi-finals.

The Utes will now face a very familiar foe in the Final Four, as BYU advanced following an upset win over Army.

Numbers knows his team is eager to play the Cougars, a team they edged in a tight match earlier this year.

“Whenever we play BYU, it could go either way,” Numbers said. “Our team is very excited.” Should the Utes advance, they will most likely meet defending national champion Cal. The Bears rolled through to the Final Four, knocking off Minnesota and Tennessee by a combined score of 136-20.

Utah and BYU square off April 29 in Stanford, Calif., with the championship match coming the following day.

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