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Bears Clinch Victory Over Gaels, Advance To Semifinals

April 15, 2023

MORAGA, Calif. – California rugby edged Saint Mary’s 29-28 in the West Region Quarterfinals of the 2023 D1A National Collegiate Championships. The Golden Bears will now advance to the national semifinals next Saturday.

“We appreciate Saint Mary’s,” Cal head coach Jack Clark said. “It was a pretty good game of rugby. Our boys were solid today, we’re getting better.”

Saint Mary’s put two converted tries on the board in minutes 15 and 25 to take an advantage as the match hit the midway point of the first half. The Bears began to claw back from the deficit when senior winger Max Clark took a massive run from the 50-yard line down the left touchline and into the tryzone to secure Cal’s first points of the day.

The Gaels put another try on the board to extend their lead at minute 34, but the Bears answered when senior co-captain Max Schumacher carried a ball in and converted his own try to make it 21-12 at the half.

The Bears hit their stride in the second half and dominated the scoreline. At minute 48, Schumacher kicked a beautiful 50-22 into touch and Cal won the attacking lineout to send the ball across the tryline in the hands of freshman center Rand Santos. Schumacher added the extras to make it 21-19.

Ten minutes later, sophomore Kealan O’Connell spotted space between the Gaels’ defense and stepped his way into Saint Mary’s territory for a try. Schumacher converted successfully to make it 26-21 in favor of Cal.

Cal was awarded a huge penalty at minute 74 and Schumacher opted to take points off his boot with a penalty kick conversion. He sent it sailing straight down the middle of the uprights to extend Cal’s lead to 29-21.

Saint Mary’s put a converted try off of a move up the short side at minute 78, but Cal’s defense fought for the last two minutes to hold onto the one point advantage. The Gaels had possession as the clock hit zero, but the Bears worked to force a turnover and clinch the victory 29-28.

“I think our composure was the key today,” Schumacher said. “We grinded it out and played some phases of really good defense.”

On the other side of the west region bracket, No. 4 seed BYU took down No. 1 seed Central Washington to advance to the semifinals round. Third-seeded Cal will now host the Cougars next Saturday in Berkeley for the contest. Information on kickoff time and how to watch the match will become available soon.

“Credit to Saint Mary’s, they really gave us a great match,” Schumacher added. “We’re proud of ourselves, especially for the seniors.”

Scoring Timeline:
Cal vs. Saint Mary’s

15:00 – Saint Mary’s 5, Saint Mary’s 2

25:00 – Saint Mary’s 5, Saint Mary’s 2

29:00 – Clark 5

38:00 – Schumacher 5, Schumacher 2

Half: Cal 12, Saint Mary’s 21

48:00 – Santos 5, Schumacher 2

59:00 – O’Connell 5, Schumacher 2

74:00 – Schumacher 3

78:00 – Saint Mary’s 5, Saint Mary’s 2

Final: Cal 29, Saint Mary’s 28

Starting XV:

1. Emilio Shea 2. Cade Crist 3. Charlie Walsh 4. Pat Deely 5. Tom Dixon 6. Luke Freeman 7. Cal Liebowitz 8. Alex Aguero 9. Solomon Williams 10. Max Schumacher 11. Max Clark 12. Rand Santos 13. Max Threlkeld 14. Evan Weigold 15. Joe Kirsten


59:00 – Jon Puckett

73:00 – Hugo Schreuder

78:00 – Nate Salter

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