by Brett Anker
Cal will welcome Penn State to Witter Field for the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. The teams have met in the national post season four prior times but Penn State’s trip to Strawberry Canyon will be the first since 2001.
The last time Cal and Penn State played in 15s came during the 2013 campaign. The Bears won that game scoring a whopping 15 tries in the process. The teams last met in the post-season in 2010, a quarterfinal game that Cal won 61-19.
The Bears come into the match after a strong 71-5 victory over Clemson. Cal wore down a passionate Clemson side and ended up sewing up the win before halftime.
The home side will feature a similar starting lineup, a mix of upper classmen and younger players. Russell Webb and Anthony Salaber will lead the way in the backs while Kevin Sullivan will spearhead a young front row in the forwards. For these three, it will be the last time they play on their home pitch.
“The opportunity to play on Witter Rugby Field one last time is a great honor,” said Salaber. “I know we’re going to out everything we have into it.”
Penn State will have a tall task if its wants to make its first ever Varsity Cup final. The Nittany Lions will have to travel across the country and defeat an impressive Cal team. Although it will be difficult, Penn State is excited for the opportunity.
“What a great opportunity to play one of the most prestigious programs in the country,” Willocks added. We sat down early on in the season to put our goals in place and these were games we talked about the semifinals and finals that we need to prepare to get ourselves into. We have done that and it is a credit to our guys.”
The Nittany Lions come off two impressive wins in the Varsity Cup. The visitors have scored points in droves this year and are firing on all cylinders at the moment. Led by a group of talented seniors, Penn State is finding its stride at the right time. Nevertheless, Willocks indicated that it would take a certain kind of game to match the explosive Cal team.
“We have got to be very buttoned up in our approach because they will capitalize on any mistakes we make. We have to match them physically and our execution is going to have to be on point,” analyzed Willocks.
The game will kick off at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday.