Lopes’ alum & Team USA reach Olympic quarterfinals, finish 6th overall
By: Zach Melcher/GCU Club Sports Writing Staff
From purple and black to red, white and blue.
Former Grand Canyon University Men’s Rugby player Maceo Brown made his Olympic debut with Team USA’s Men’s Rugby squad at the Tokyo Olympics, helping lead them to a 6th-place finish overall, the team’s highest Olympic finish ever. Team USA finished with a 2-1 mark after pool play in the Men’s Rugby 7’s in Tokyo, Japan, securing a spot in Tuesday’s Olympic quarterfinal round after dramatic victories over Kenya and Ireland before falling short of a perfect record with a loss to undefeated South Africa Monday night in Tokyo, Japan. The Americans then lost the quarterfinal matchup, 26-21, Tuesday morning, thanks to a furious second-half comeback by Great Britain.
Entering the group stage, Brown and his U.S. counterparts took the pitch against Kenya. Despite an early lead, the Americans found themselves down two points with less than a minute to play. The U.S. was able to score the final points of the match and start their Olympic journey with a 19-14 victory over Kenya.
In their second match against Ireland, the Americans found themselves in a similar situation as their first match. However, even with Ireland clawing back to a two-point deficit early in the second half, the U.S. held on for a 19 – 17 victory. The win clinched a spot in the knockout rounds for the first time in Olympic competition.
After consistent play within the first two matches, Brown left the match with Ireland in the first half with a minor injury. The Lopes’ alum didn’t return against Ireland, and was held out of the South Africa match.
United States and South Africa – both undefeated going into the final pool play matchup – faced off to determine the pool’s top seed. Even though the U.S. entered the second half tied, a combination of worsening weather conditions and untimely turnovers cost Team USA their first loss, 17 – 12.
With their second-place finish in the group stage behind them, the Americans looked ahead to their first opponents in the quarterfinals, Great Britain.
The Americans jumped out to an early 21-0 lead. However, a costly yellow card by Team USA in the second half opened the door for Great Britain to pull off a stunning 26 – 21 upset. Brown was inserted into the lineup late in the second half, but couldn’t help the Americans shift the momentum in time.
Although Brown and the Team USA’s Olympic medal dreams have ended, they still have an important ninth-place semifinal matchup against Canada Tuesday night.
The loss dropped them into the bottom bracket, where they defeated Canada, 21-14, to advance to the 5th-place final, then dropped their second decision of the Olympics to South Africa, 28-7, for the No. 6 spot. Brown’s injury held him out of the final two matches.
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