Cal Beats Penn State to Advance to Varsity Cup Final Against Arkansas State

April 23, 2017

Cal Beats Penn State to Advance to Varsity Cup Final Against Arkansas State


Photo: ABFlyer Photo (Patrick Barrientes)

Cal Athletics Release: Anton Malko

BERKELEY – California scored seven tries and held Penn State to two scores for a 35-14 win in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup national semifinals Saturday on Witter Rugby Field.

The Golden Bears got two tries apiece from freshmen Damon Wiley and Keanu Andrade in the last home match in Strawberry Canyon for graduating seniors, sending Cal into the Varsity Cup championship final Saturday, May 6, in Santa Clara, where the Bears will meet Arkansas State. The Red Wolves defeated Navy, 25-7, Saturday in the other semifinal held in Jonesboro, Ark.

“It means the world to have the opportunity to play for a spot in the final in front of our families and friends,” said inside center Anthony Salaber. “It’s a feeling we all have as graduating seniors but you could really see the young guys really getting after it too.”

“To come out and play for all the seniors was just amazing,” said Wiley. “The energy and tenacity was there, and we knew Penn State was going to be physical as well. It’s up to us to keep that pace through an entire 80 minutes.”

Wiley and Andrade were two of five starters and seven total freshmen and sophomore who contributed to Saturday’s semifinal victory. Freshman Thomas Spradling racked up tackles opposite fellow flanker Nic Mirhashem, a sophomore; freshman Sebastian Bader came on as a replacement in the forwards for Olivier Damas; and freshman Sam Cusano played all 80 minutes at a wing position.

The Nittany Lions scored both their tries in the second half, with one each from Malcolm May and Kevin Trotter, and Jim Ronan was good on both conversions (2-for-2), but Penn State was unable to create sustained pressure against the Bears after falling behind 20-0 at halftime.

“We’re proud of the season we had and will take a lot of lessons from today. Cal did a great job, they had the physicality and execution, and they capitalized on any mistakes,” said Penn State head coach James Willocks. “We had some great support in the crowd and we’re headed in the right direction.”

The next task for the Bears is clear. On May 6 at 12 p.m. PT in Stevens Stadium on the campus of Santa Clara University, the Blue and Gold will take on Arkansas State in the Varsity Cup national championship. Cal has two weeks to refine its game further for a final push toward a 15s title.

The Scoring Timeline vs. Penn State

20:00 Keanu Andrade 5

28:00 Kevin Sullivan 5

31:00 Damon Wiley 5

38:00 Patrick Barrientes 5

Halftime Score: California 20, Penn State 0

53:00 Penn State (Malcolm May) 5, (Jim Ronan) 2

55:00 Jake Goena 5

61:00 Keanu Andrade 5

63:00 Penn State (Kevin Trotter) 5, (Jim Ronan) 2

65:00 Damon Wiley 5

Final Score: California 35, Penn State 14

The Team vs. Penn State

15. Flynn, 14. Goena, 13. Barrientes, 12. Salaber, 11. Cusano, 10.R. Webb, 9. Andrade (Kawash @ 79:00), 1. Sullivan, 2. Ogburn (Joyce @ 62:00), 3. Wiley (Zerbino @ 74:00), 4. Sweet, 5. Damas (Bader @ 60:00), 6. Spradling, 7. Mirhashem, 8. Gaffney

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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant