April 20, 1997
Cal Reaches Final Four
Cal's rugby squad reached the national championship Final Four Sunday with a 46-6 win over Air Force. The Bears' victory sets up a showdown with Stanford, UC Davis and Penn State, who secured the remaining berths in regional play.
The Cal team was not impressed by its own margin of victory over Air Force, however, and the squad left the field promising an improved performance in its Final Four games to be played at Berkeley, May 3 & 4.
"We've left ourselves plenty to work on," said Cal coach Jack Clark. "It was a comprehensive victory but we've got our best rugby game still inside us and it's got to be our passion to get that out."
Clark predicted Saturday that Air Force could disrupt the Bears' preferred style of play and Cal captain Kevin Dalzell saw those suspicions confirmed in the match.
"They were a scrappy team," the scrum half said. "They made the point of contact very unstable and that made it really difficult to get clean ball for the backs-they didn't get a good ball all day." Dalzell scored Cal's first 13 points on his own with two penalty kicks and a converted try.
Winger Todd Conneely then followed up with a hat trick of tries while Cal's last two tries came from flanker Mark Hildebrand and lock Sam Enochian.
Cal's back line may not have seen much good ball in the match, but the Air Force backs saw even less. They only broke Cal's defense on a handful of occasions-a turnaround from Saturday's victory over Arizona where they found lots of running room.
The Bears' forward pack, meanwhile, dominated set plays. The Cal scrum took two tightheads from the Air Force pack-one leading to Hildebrand's try-and Dalzell was able to steal another ball from the base of a collapsing Air Force scrum. Cal also controlled line-outs with lock Rob Flegel winning several balls from Air Force throw-ins.
In the tournament consolation match, Arizona beat Indiana 24-11.
Cal 20 26 = 46 vs. Air Force 6 0 = 6
Scoring: First Half - Kevin Dalzell Penalty Kick (3) 5.38; Kevin Dalzell Penalty Kick (3) 7.53; Joe Cox (A.F.) Penalty Kick (3); Kevin Dalzell Try (5) & Conversion (2) 23.59; Joe Cox (A.F.) Penalty Kick (3) 34.21; Todd Conneely Try (5) Kevin Dalzell Conversion (2) 37.30.
Second Half - Todd Conneely Try (5) Kevin Dalzell Conversion (2) 2.27; Todd Conneely Try (5) Kevin Dalzell Conversion (2) 14.40; Mark Hildebrand Try (5) 20.42; Sam Enochian Try (5) Kevin Dalzell Conversion (2) Injury Time.Cal Record: 14-3