Bears Visit Broncos Saturday 6 p.m. in Santa Clara

BERKELEY – California is back on the road to face Santa Clara University at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 14, on Bellomy Field.

Head coach Jack Clark is expected to field seven frosh-sophs in the Starting XV as Golden Bears (12-1) face a Santa Clara team (4-5) that most recently put up 44 points on the road at San Diego State after beating UC Santa Barbara and Stanford, and keeping it close against Colorado, earlier in its 15s schedule.

All-America open-side flanker Alec Gletzer will captain the Cal side in his first action since exiting with injury in the first half of the “World Cup” opener against UBC on February 7. Gletzer, a senior, will work with a majority of sophomores in the forwards, including Kevin Sullivan, Tomas Zerbino, John Spradling and Connor Sweet.

“Alec hasn’t played in more than five weeks and it’s important for him to get a few minutes prior to Vancouver next week,” said head coach Jack Clark in reference to the Sunday, March 22, “World Cup” finale that follows Saturday’s trip to Santa Clara. “Irrespective of the score, we will get the players likely to be selected for Vancouver out of the match early and let the underclassmen take us home.”

Freshman Matthew Coyle returns at flyhalf against the Broncos after an impressive match in the Bears’ last outing, March 7 at Oregon State. So too returns Karl Thornton at fullback, giving Jake Anderson the weekend off. Freshman winger Jake Goena will start after coming off the bench in Corvallis.

The Bears bench in Santa Clara on Saturday night is expected to include all freshmen and sophomores in the forwards. Freshman Michael Goodwin and sophomore Jamie Howells are the reserve halfback pairing, and freshmen Aiden Flynn, Schuyler Whiting, William Fuller, Zachary Tavenner will be among the reserves in the backline.

Sunset will occur midway through Saturday’s match, making it the second straight night game between the Bears and Broncos. In their last meeting, on Feb. 19, 2014, in Berkeley, Santa Clara was on the heels of the Bears, trailing 19-13 at the break before Cal scored nine unanswered tries in the second half to win, 74-13.

Having most recently played two solid matches against Utah and Oregon State to wrap up its conference schedule, Cal will strive to show continued improvement across the breadth of its roster against Santa Clara. Staying at or close to its stout defensive average of 6.9 ppg allowed would be a good indication that the Blue and Gold was committed to its effort.

After its meeting with the Broncos, the Bears will make their annual pilgrimage north of the border in the series finale of the ”World Cup” seeking to overcome a 13-point disadvantage in 80 minutes against British Columbia at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday, March 22, at 1 p.m.

Cal returns to Strawberry Canyon to host Saint Mary’s at noon on Saturday, March 28, at in the final match of the regular season before the national postseason for 15s begins at the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup National Championships.

Photo Credit: Contrast Photography