Cal Prevails Over Tough Army Side

Cal Prevails Over Tough Army Side

by Brett Anker

Cal overcame an early first half deficit to defeat tough Army squad 41-29 in the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. A pair of late first half tries and a strong second half propelled the Golden Bears into the semifinals.

This contest was incredibly physical from the get go. Both packs refused to give in to one another throughout the course of the match, pummeling the fringes to create space for their respective backlines.

“We knew coming into this game that these were a lot of stout tough guys. We have nothing but the utmost respect for these guys and this university and so that we knew that they were going to be tough and stout. We had to prepare for that and they gave us a real physical game,” said Cal match day captain Scott Walsh.

Army got on the board first off a lineout inside the Cal 22. Flanker Andrew Irwin powered his way over after peeling off the back of a maul. The West Point set piece was excellent all afternoon, leading to a number of well-worked scores.

Cal bounced back after the Army score. The Bears monopolized possession for the next 10 minutes, pressing inside the Army 22. After making several goal line stands, the Black Knights defense finally broke, and Russell Webb scurried over for a 7-7 tie.

The ensuing kickoff bounced off the arms of a Cal player and immediately Army went into the ascendency. West Point attacked back and forth against the Cal defense and ultimately found an overload outwide and winger Joseph Dlugosch capped it off with a score in the corner.

Army added two more scores to increase the lead to 22-7 in the 33rd minute. Jake Lachina broke through the Cal line off a scrum. The speedy fullback went on one with the fullback. As he was being dragged down he offloaded to an oncoming Andrew Yoon for a score under the posts. Mitch Sanderson scored a forward’s try five minutes later to increase the lead.

“We were our own worst enemy for so much of the game. We had to really bare down to win the game,” said Cal coach Jack Clark. You give West Point a lot of credit for that. Army was strong and they played some good rugby.”

Cal righted the ship towards the end of the first half. Lachina made a tremendous tackle on the try line pulling his man into touch, but Cal’s Nic Mirhashem intercepted the lineout and dove over to cut the lead to 22-14.

The Golden Bears got on the board again right before halftime. Russell Webb kicked a turnover ball ahead. Anthony Salabar ran onto it and booted it ahead once more. The big center got a nice bounce and without breaking stride, scooped the ball and ran around the fullback. Lachina made a nice recovery tackle, and batted the ball backwards on an attempted offload. The ball bounced and Webb fell on it under the posts to make the game 22-21 going into the break.

Harry Adolphus gave Cal its first lead of the day shortly into the second half. The fullback nailed the conversion to give Cal a 28-22 lead.

Army struck back 10 minutes later via Andrew Borer. The fly half had a strong game distributing and with the boot, but this time he backed himself. Cutting back inside on the Cal defense, Borer slithered through under the posts to regain the lead for Army 29-28.

Cal slowly took over the game from this point on, however. The Golden Bears upped the intensity and speed of play. Even an extremely fit Army struggled to keep pace and eventually the defensive line broke. After passing up a number of kickable penalties, Connor Sweet powered his way over for what would turn out to be the game winning score.

In the 70th minute Cal got the insurance try it was seeking through Salabar. Army got deep in Cal territory in the final minutes but a turnover at the goal line stymied any chance of West Point coming back from the two score deficit. The Bears added a penalty at the death to finish 41-29.

Army gave Cal all it could handle and coach Matt Sherman was very positive about his team’s performance.

“I could not be more proud of this team. I have never been more proud of a team I have coached than these boys right now,” said Sherman. “This senior class, they are just outstanding in how much they have improved this year.”

Cal will move on to play Central Washington in the semifinals next weekend.

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th

2016 Quarterfinal Match Schedule | April 16th


The Varsity Cup Quarterfinals are nearly upon us! There are some critical matchups tomorrow Sat., April 16th as Arkansas State, Army, BYU, Cal, CWU, Dartmouth, Navy, & Utah will do battle to see who earns at spot in the Semi-Finals.

See the below for more information on the where and when the matches are being held and how you can watch remotely:

Army vs. Cal

– Location: Anderson Rugby Complex, River Rd., West Point, NY 10996
– Time: 3:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Army “Knight Vision” (http://goarmywestpoint.com/watch)

Dartmouth vs. BYU

– Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
– Time: 1:00 PM EDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA5QqeCNdDY)

Navy vs. Arkansas State

Location: Naval Academy Brigade Sports Complex, 64 Greenbury Point Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402
Time: 11:00 AM EDT

Utah vs. CWU

Location: Salt Lake Regional Sports Complex, 2280 N. Rose Park Lane, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Time: 12:00 PM MDT
Webcast: KUTE Radio (http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/h06yz)

Army vs. Cal | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

Army vs. Cal | 2016 Quarterfinal Preview

by Brett Anker

The University of California will travel to West Point to take on Army in the quarterfinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. Both teams won handily in the first round of the Varsity Cup and are looking to continue the momentum.

The last time the Golden Bears played the Black Knights in a 15-aside match was in 2009. The teams met in the division I USA Rugby playoffs with the Golden Bears winning 42-17 to claim a spot in the 2009 final. Besides the 2009 semifinals, the clubs competed against each other in 7s at the Collegiate Rugby Championship, with Cal winning a pool play contest.

Prior to the 2009 contest, the teams met twice in consecutive national championships. In both 1991 and 1992, Cal defeated Army in tight contests to win the national title. The teams also met consecutively in the 2002 and 2003 playoffs with Berkeley claiming wins in both.

For a program of such rich tradition and history, however, this will be the first time that Cal travels to West Point. The Golden Bears are looking forward to the challenge and are excited at the prospect of playing on a storied campus.

“Army has always been a fierce opponent and we are expecting their best rugby,” said head coach Jack Clark. “It will be a privilege to visit West Point and we want to soak it all in.”

Adding intrigue to the match up is the fact that the first year head coach of Army was a co-captain on a Cal side coached by Clark. Matt Sherman participated in the 2002 and 2003 victories over West Point and more recently served as an assistant coach for the Bears. For Sherman, however, the focus is on preparing for a tough opponent.

“We are looking forward to the challenging opportunity that awaits us in Cal in round two of the Varsity Cup,” Army coach Matt Sherman told United World Sports. “Cal has set the bar for many years in the collegiate rugby landscape, and we welcome the opportunity to test ourselves against that high standard,”

Army has been playing extremely well of late. Picking up wins against Utah, Navy and Oklahoma. However, the Black Knights struggled against another top tier opponent in BYU, falling 72-10. This weekend will be a step up from the recent wins and Army knows that it will require a strong performance.

“It is a challenge, no doubt. Our focus will remain the same. Chasing our best performance. I think when we are playing at our top level we are very competitive to compete with most teams. For us the challenge will be the constancy and that standard. Can we find 80 minutes of that level? To be competitive with Cal that is what we need to do,” added Sherman.

The game kicks off at 3PM EST on Saturday.

Borer, Army, Beat Oklahoma in Varsity Cup

Borer, Army, Beat Oklahoma in Varsity Cup

by Brett Anker

Army cruised to the second round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup with a 55-10 victory over Oklahoma. Led by a three tries from flyhalf Andrew Borer, the Black Knights jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.

Borer opened the scoring with a penalty in the minute and backed himself two minutes later for an early 8-0 lead. The flyhalf added his second of the day five minutes later. Until recently, Borer had been playing fullback. The back has made the transition to first receiver and is coming into his own. In all, the newly minted flyhalf tallied 30 points on the afternoon.

“He had a good day. He is a good all round player…. I thought he had his best performance running our attacking 10 of the year,” Army coach Matt Sherman said of Borer. “

Before the 20-minute mark, Torran Raby had extended the Black Knights lead to 18 nil. West Point would add one more score from Logan Weiland to increase the lead to 23-0 at the break.

“I thought when we stayed composed everything worked. We had some nice tries from set piece, from attack and created some tries through defensive pressure,” said Sherman.

Borer added another penalty and completed the hat trick at the start of the second half. The home side added two more tries before Oklahoma would get on the board with a penalty. After another penalty from Borer, Oklahoma notched its first try and the match ended 55-10.

Although Army controlled the match for most of the game and everything seemed to go its way, the team let emotion get in the way of things at times. As the Black Knights progress in the tournament, they must maintain the discipline that the service academy is well known for.

“The down side was we lost our composure. We were pretty emotional throughout the day. We were intermittent with that sort of focus throughout the day,” critiqued Sherman of his team’s performance.

Army continues to ride a hot streak but will face its toughest test since losing to BYU. After beating Utah, Navy and Oklahoma, the Black Knights will host Cal in next week’s quarterfinal action.

2016 Opening Round Match Schedule | April 9th

2016 Opening Round Match Schedule | April 9th


Army vs. Oklahoma

Location: Anderson Rugby Complex, River Rd., West Point, NY 10996
Time: 3:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Army “Knight Vision” (http://goarmywestpoint.com/watch)

Arizona State vs. BYU

Location: ASU Poly Campus, 7001 E. Williams Field Rd., Mesa, AZ 85212
Time: 7:00 PM MST

Arkansas State vs. Clemson

Location: ASU Rugby Pitch, 501 Red Wolf Trail Rd., Jonesboro, AR 72401
Time: 1:30 PM CDT

Cal vs. Texas

Location: Witter Rugby Field, 210 Stadium Rim Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
Time: 12:00 PM PDT


Location: CWU Wildcat Rugby Field, Ellensburg, WA 98926
Time: 1:00 PM PDT
Webcast: Wildcat “Event Zone” (www.wildcatsports.com)

Dartmouth vs. Penn State

Location: Corey Ford Rugby Clubhouse, 9 Reservoir Rd., Hanover, NH 03755
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: Live on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EIwkyCQ3AI)

Navy vs. Notre Dame

Location: Naval Academy Brigade Sports Complex, 64 Greenbury Point Rd., Annapolis, MD 21402
Time: 12:00 PM EDT
Webcast: TBD

Utah vs. Air Force

Location: McCarthy Field, 76 S. Wasatch Dr., Salt Lake City, UT 84112
Time: 12:00 PM MDT
Webcast: KUTE Radio (http://www.kaltura.com/tiny/h06yz)

Army vs. Oklahoma | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Army vs. Oklahoma | 2016 Opening Round Preview

Oklahoma will travel to West Point to take on Army in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. The Sooners will be looking to leave a mark on this year’s Varsity Cup after missing out last year due to a suspension.

The Midwest school has bounced back nicely after undergoing a coaching change after returning from suspension. The Sooners have only lost two games this season, both coming to undefeated teams, LSU and Tennessee.

Finishing second in the Red River Conference, Oklahoma beat the likes of TCU, Texas and Texas A&M. Along with a successful tour in Jamaica, the Sooners are ready to travel to West Point. While the weather in Jamaica and Oklahoma has been extremely warm this time of year, the Sooners are headed for a cold northeast spring.

“I tell you right now it is 86. I think the guys will be welcoming the cooler temperature. Although, it is a little bit of a shock…..We toured Jamaica over spring break and it was hot there so I think the guys are probably going to be happy that its not 85 or 90,” said Oklahoma coach Doug Neubauer.

Even with the cold weather, Oklahoma is excited to make the trek to West Point. With one member of the team being an ROTC member and the women’s team being coached by a West Point grad, the team is looking forward to a tour of the facility and a matchup with the cadets. The Sooners know it will be a tough task to come across the country and win but believe they are up to the challenge.

“There coach is well qualified. They are well drilled. They are very disciplined. We are going to have to match it and hopefully make better decisions to come out on top,” Neubauer said.

Army has been on a streak of late, knocking off rival Navy and Utah in consecutive weekends. After losing to BYU on the road, the Black Knights came back to beat the Utes and carried that momentum into a road victory over Navy.

“We have been an improving team recently and that’s been the most pleasing thing to us,” said Army coach Matt Sherman. “We have been improving in moments on the field and improving with our resilience and our composure as well.”

The loose forwards drive the Army team and along with the halfback combination of Jake Barnahall and Andrew Borer, allow the team to effectively run its pattern. Peter Basnight captains the team at number 8 while Ben Lemon and Andrew Irwin lead the way defensively.

“Our back row as a whole has founds its form recently,” Sherman commended.

Army is hoping to come away a victory in its first ever Varsity Cup game. Playing an unfamiliar opponent, however, provides an opportunity and a challenge.

“It is exciting and it’s daunting at the same time. It is exciting to play a name brand school from the Midwest and a program that has been strong for decades,” said Sherman. “They are a reputable program…They have beaten very good teams and we expect a very strong opponent.”