May 4, 1997
Cal Rugby Squad Wins National Title
BERKELEY, Calif. - The Bears beat Penn State 41-15 on Witter Rugby Field to garner its seventh consecutive collegiate crown.
The Bears went on a 29 point tear in the first half, while holding the Nittany Lions scoreless. The Penn State team rallied in the second period outscoring Cal 15-12, but it was too little too late.
Fittingly, Cal's captain Kevin Dalzell led the charge scoring the first 10 points of the match. The graduating senior poached a ball from Penn State's scrum and scurried in for a try in the 14th minute, he also kicked a penalty and four conversions in the match.
The Bears capitalized on Penn State's first half errors-botched kick offs and poor line out control-to maintain possession for most of the half. With the ball in hand, Cal could pound the Penn State defense eventually sending its wingers Nic Sliffe and Todd Conneely in for a try each. Conneely also launched a counter-attack from within his own half to score Cal's fourth and final try of the first period. Penn State turned the tables in the second half with captain Kurt Shuman bursting through the Cal defense for the first try. With a penalty kick a few minutes later, the Nittany Lions had pulled within two tries of the Bears. However, Cal rallied for another Sliffe try-set-up by fly half Dave Stroble's improvisation in the back line. Sliffe then made a try saving tackle, holding up the Penn State attack over the goal line. The two teams swapped tries in the last 15 minutes, as Penn State played desperate catch up.
The result is a repeat of last year's national final when Cal also defeated Penn State. The Lion's head coach Terry Ryland praised Cal's defense after the game: "If you find a way to break it, let me know," he told a press conference, "I'll pay for the postage."
For Cal, it is the fourteenth national title since the title competition began in 1980. For coach Jack Clark the weekend saw him post career wins 250 and 251.
Cal 29 12 = 41 Penn State 0 15 = 15 Scoring: First Half - Kevin Dalzell (Cal) Penalty Kick (3) 6.08; Kevin Dalzell (Cal) Try (5) & Conversion (2) 14.28; Todd Conneely (Cal) Try (5) 20.36; Nic Sliffe (Cal) Try (5) Kevin Dalzell Conversion (2) 27.32; Todd Conneely (Cal) Try (5) Kevin Dalzell Conversion (2) 36.50. Second Half - Kurt Shuman (Penn State) Try (5) Matt Duncombe Conversion (2) 5.38; Matt Duncombe (Penn State) Penalty Kick (3) 12.00; Nic Sliffe (Cal) Try (5) Kevin Dalzell Conversion (2) 21.15; Matt Duncombe (Penn State) Try (5) 25.27; Kirk Khasigian (Cal) Try 31.42.