Nov. 3, 2012
LOS ANGELES - California has advanced to the semifinals of the PAC Sevens Rugby Tournament with its 36-0 shutout of Arizona in the quarterfinals to end an arduous day Saturday on UCLA's North Athletic Field. The Golden Bears face the Bruins at 11:20 a.m. in Sunday's semi and the winner faces either Utah or Arizona State in the tourney final, which kicks off at 2 p.m. PT.
The Bears exited Saturday's four-match melee with a +103 points differential on a tournament-leading 129 points scored.
"It was full effort that taxed everybody," said senior captain Seamus Kelly. "Anything can happen in 7s - it's the nature of the game - but the challenges we faced today continually refocused us and we're looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow to compete again."
Cal started at 9 a.m. Saturday in Pool A with a seven-try, 43-0 win over USC. Four freshmen and two sophomores joined senior Jared Braun, who scored two tries in his first action of the year, to shut down the Trojans. First-year players Anthony Salaber and Charles Guiraud also scored two tries apiece against USC and sophomore Nicklas Boyer kicked four conversions.
Against Oregon State in game two, the Bears yielded their first try of the day to the Beavers' Robert Kennedy, converted by Nick Cutrell. But that only made the score 19-7 en route to Cal's five-try, 33-7 win.
Next came a battle between Cal and Arizona State in the final pool match for both teams, and ASU dealt the Bears their only setback. After freshman Russell Webb got Cal on the board early with a 5-0 advantage, the Sun Devils took the first lead of the day over the Bears when ASU's Peter Ondi scored a try that was converted by Adam Sandstrom in the fifth minute, making it a 7-5 ballgame.
Arizona State's advantage was short lived thanks to an end-to-end gallop by sophomore Michael Bush at the horn, converted by Russell Webb for a 12-7 Cal lead at the break. But the Sun Devils tied the match on an unconverted try by Ryan Spiewak midway through the second stanza. Captain Seamus Kelly came on as a reserve and his try seized back the lead two minutes later; however, referee Nick Ricono allowed a hasty lineout by ASU with time winding down and the Devils capitalized on Cal's disorganized alignment, with Spiewak's second score setting up the match-winning conversion by Sandstrom.
Its 2-1 result in pool play earned Cal a place in the quarterfinals, where it faced Arizona, the runnerup at the 2012 Collegiate Rugby Championship 7s. The Bears began well with a try by Jake Anderson, followed by two scores from fellow 7s All-American Kelly. Senior Anthony Lombardo's try made it 24-0 at halftime and the Bears never looked back, adding another from Lombardo and a final try from sophomore Nicklas Boyer to sew up their 36-0 shutout.
Sunday will offer stout tests for all the teams in the competition. The host Bruins take a 4-0 tourney record into the semis, having capped their Saturday with a 29-5 quarterfinal victory over Oregon State. The Sun Devils moved on, too, with a 24-0 quarterfinal win over Oregon, setting up the other semifinal between ASU and Utah, who blanked Colorado in their quarterfinal.
Action at Sunday's PAC Sevens begins at 10 a.m. with Stanford vs. USC as every squad in the 12-team event plays two more matches - win, lose or draw. If Saturday is any indication, fans are in store for more roller-coaster excitement that offers no team anyplace to hide.
"In these seven-minute halves, every mistake is amplified and you can't call a timeout, so it's very intense," said freshman Patrick Barrientes, who saw action in pool play. "It was an honor to wear the blue and gold for my school in front of my family today. But tomorrow is a new mission for this team with its own goal."
PAC Sevens Rugby Tournament
Saturday Pool Play
California 43, USC 0
UCLA 29, Oregon 5
10 a.m. Stanford vs. USC (9th/10th qualifier)
The Scoring Timeline vs. USC
03:00 Jared Braun 5
Halftime Score: California 26, USC 0
12:00 Jared Braun 5
13:00 Anthony Salaber 5
Final Score: California 43, USC 0
The Team vs. USC
1. Bush, 2. Todd, 3. Salaber, 4. Boyer, 5. Barrientes, 6. Braun, 7. Guiraud
The Scoring Timeline vs. Oregon State
05:00 Jake Anderson 5
Halftime Score: California 19, Oregon State 0
11:00 Oregon State (Robert Kennedy) 5, (Nick Cuttrel) 2
Final Score: California 33, Oregon State 7
The Team vs. Oregon State
1. Okusi, 2. Braun, 3. Coquillard, 4. Boyer, 5. Anderson, 6. Barrientes, 7. Guiraud
The Scoring Timeline vs. Arizona State
02:00 Russell Webb 5
05:00 ASU (Peter Ondi) 5, (Adam Sandtrom) 2
Halftime Score: California 12, Oregon State 7
10:00 ASU (Ryan Spiewak) 5
11:00 Seamus Kelly 5
14:00 ASU (Ryan Spiewak) 5, (Adam Sandstrom) 2
Final Score: Arizona State 19, California 17
The Team vs. Arizona State
1. Bush, 2. Todd, 3. Salaber, 4. Webb, 5. Barrientes, 6. Battaglia, 7. Lombardo
The Scoring Timeline vs. Arizona
02:00 Jake Anderson 5
06:00 Seamus Kelly 5
Halftime Score: California 24, Arizona 0
11:00 Nicklas Boyer 5
Final Score: California 36, Arizona 0
The Team vs. Arizona
1. Coquillard, 2. Battaglia, 3. Kelly, 4. Boyer, 5. Webb, 6. Anderson, 7. Lombardo