Aug. 6, 2012
LONDON - Of the five Golden Bears competing Monday at the 30th Olympiad, three saw their efforts advance their teams to within sight of medal contention - or, in Alex Morgan and women's soccer's case, one game away from the gold medal.
Morgan's extra-time gamewinner for USA over Canada to win their women's soccer semifinal highlighted the day at the 2012 Summer Olympics, while fellow California alumnus John Mann and current sophomore Aleksa Saponjic competed in men's water polo as U.S. and Serbia both qualified for their quarterfinals.
They were joined by former men's basketball center Max Zhang and discus thrower Martin Maric, who wrapped up their Olympics on Monday.
With the eyes of the world upon her and a trip to the Olympic final on the line in the final minute of extra time in a semifinal match against Canada, former Bear forward Alex Morgan headed in the game-winning goal to book the U.S. Women's National Team's ticket to the gold-medal match.
Scoring in the 123rd minute, Morgan's tally handed the Americans a 4-3 win over their northern neighbors at historic Old Trafford, the home of Manchester United.
U.S. midfielder Heather O'Reilly crossed the ball into Morgan from the right side, and the four-year Cal letterwinner headed it in.
The Americans battled back from three deficits during regulation. Morgan's goal was her third of the Olympics and the first since the U.S.' opening game. The Diamond Bar, Calif., native started the match and played all 123 minutes.
The Americans play Japan for the gold medal at 11:45 a.m. PT on Thursday at Wembley Stadium, in a match that will be televised on the NBC Sports Network. The Olympic final will be a rematch of the 2011 World Cup Final, which saw the Japanese defeat the U.S. in penalty kicks.
The U.S. has advanced to the gold-medal match in each edition of the Summer Games since women's soccer played in its first Olympics in 1996. France and Canada will play for bronze.
One of the best players in Cal history, Morgan - who led Cal to the postseason in each of her four seasons - ended her Golden Bear career ranked third in all-time points (107) and tied for third in all-time goals (45). She collected All-America and All-Pac-10 First-Team honors as a senior. Her collegiate success paved the way for her international acclaim for the United States. Morgan became a household name last summer, when her heroics helped to propel the U.S. team to the 2011 World Cup final. Previously, she scored the game-winning goal for the United States in the 2008 Under-20 World Cup.
To continue to a full recap, click here.
Men's Water Polo
Both Aleksa Saponjic's Serbia squad and John Mann's United States' team advanced to the quarterfinals of the London Olympics men's water polo competition, finishing in the top four in their group, after the final round of preliminary play Monday, Aug. 6, at the Olympic Park Water Polo Arena.
Saponjic, who will be a sophomore on Kirk Everist's Golden Bears this fall, helped Serbia improve its record to 4-0-1 and finish first in Group B with a 12-4 win over Romania. He played in a little more than nine minutes in the win, recording one field block and winning the sprint to start the fourth period.
Despite an 11-6 loss to Hungary on Monday, Mann's U.S. team also advanced after finishing fourth (3-2) in Group B. Mann notched a goal in the American's loss, finding the back of the net with 1:30 left in the first half on an assist from Layne Beaubien to get his team within 5-2. He ended up playing a little more than 14 minutes of the contest and also added a field block.
Next up for Saponjic and Serbia is a Wednesday, Aug. 8, knockout quarterfinal versus Australia, while Mann and the U.S. will play against undefeated Croatia (5-0) on Sunday, Aug. 12.
The winner of Serbia vs. Australia plays the winner of Italy vs. Hungary in the semifinals. If Team USA upends Croatia, it would play the winner of Spain and Montenegro for a chance to medal.
Mann has now tallied three goals in the Olympics - one each against Romania, host Great Britain and Hungary. Saponjic notched a goal in Serbia's 21-7 win over Great Britain.
Mann helped the Golden Bears to the 2006 NCAA title and was the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's top collegiate player. Saponjic was a 2011 honorable mention All-American as a freshman for Cal. They are the first Cal Olympic men's water polo players since four Bears - Gavin Arroyo, Chris Humbert, Sean Nolan and Chris Oeding - were members of the 2000 United States National Team at the Sydney Games.
Track & Field
Martin Maric placed 17th in qualifying for the men's discus Monday with a best effort of 206-3. The mark, which came on his final attempt, was good for 10th in Group B, but he did not advance to the championship rounds. Only the top 12 out of 41 entries will continue throwing in the finals. The 2009 NCAA discus champion while competing for Cal, Maric was participating in his second Olympics for his native Croatia after taking 29th with a throw of 194-4 at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
The Bears have two remaining athletes in track & field. Next up will be the USA's Alysia Montano, who has her opening round race in the women's 800 meters Wednesday. In addition, Kari Karlsson, representing Iceland, will run in the men's marathon Sunday morning.
Max Zhang played in his fifth Olympic contest with the Chinese National Team in a 90-58 defeat to Great Britain Monday inside the Olympic Basketball Stadium.
The 7-3 center from Shanghai, who was a member of the Cal men's basketball team for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, played just under 14 minutes in Monday's game. He converted both his field goal attempts and pulled down three rebounds to along with a blocked shot in his limited time on the floor.
Kieron Achara led Great Britain with a game-high 16 points in the victory.
China, which also dropped a 97-81 decision to Spain in its Olympic opener, a 73-54 contest to Russia on Tuesday, an 81-61 game to Australia on Thursday and a 98-59 decision to Brazil on Saturday, was eliminated from competition in the Olympics with a 0-5 record as Group B play concluded on Monday.