CORVALLIS, Ore. – The California Golden Bears women’s rugby club avenged a loss against Washington State to win the Oregon State 7s qualifying tournament.
After Washington State posted a 22-17 last minute victory over Cal in pool play, the two seemed to be on a collision course for a rematch in the Championship Finals. The other two participants, host Oregon State and the University of Washington seemed to be behind the curb when compared to the equally talented Cal and Washington State clubs.
Cal’s coach Brandon Sparks describes his team as “star-studded with a lot of young talent”. Even so, it was their ability to play as a team that pushed Cal to a 26-12 victory against Washington State in the Finals, and earned them their third straight trip to the USA Rugby College 7s National Championship.
“They understand how to play a team game,” said Coach Sparks. “No one player is expected to carry the load, and the responsibilities are evenly distributed amongst them all.”
Junior prop and Cal’s Player of the Day, Jessica Lewis, echoed her coach’s acknowledgement of each player having a hand in the team’s success.
“We trusted out system of play,” said Lewis. “Every player had a purpose on the field and a job to do. We attribute our win to every player doing their part and playing really smart.”
Although Washington State missed out on an automatic berth to the National Championship, their dominating wins over Washington and Oregon State have surely gained the attention of the USA Collegiate Championship Committee. Wazzu’s 5-point win over Cal will also make the Cougars a difficult team to leave out of the group chosen by the Championship Committee for at-large selections.
Even though the Huskies struggled in the programs first ever 7s event, Cal’s Sparks couldn’t be more thrilled with their participation and what it means for college women’s 7s as a whole.
“It’s refreshing to see these new teams coming on”, said Sparks. “The 7s landscape in the Pacific Northwest in the next couple of years is going to change with teams stepping up and wanted to be a part of it.”
The Cal Bears will make the short trip south for the Stanford Invitational on November 9. With their spot at the National Championship locked up, the Bears have the ability to use that tournament to build out their depth and work towards determining who’ll make up their traveling roster for Greensboro, NC.