Cal Tops Arizona in Final Rugby Match of the Season

Golden Bears will return most of their players for the 2021-22 season
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Cal's short rugby season ended on Saturday, but the Golden Bears finished the season off in style by defeating Arizona 48-7 at Cal's Witter Rugby Field.

Cal was coming off a 32-14 loss to Saint Mary's while Arizona came to Berkeley with a 3-1 record and an 86-12 victory over Air Force on April 24. But the Bears dominated Saturday's game, improving their record against Arizona to 12-0 over the past decade.

"As a team, we wanted to focus on putting one last good performance together to end the season," graduating Cal senior Ken Kurihara said. "Something we spoke about before the game was showing resolve as a team. When things get tough, having the resolve to stay on the job and not drop our intensity."

Cal finished its short season with two wins and one loss, and it will return for the 2021-22 season with its roster mostly intact.

"We did pretty well in spurts, putting together some good patches of rugby," head coach Jack Clark said. "We have so much appreciation for the two graduating seniors who started today, Owen [Duvall] and Ken [Kurihara], and it was great to be able to get Garrett [Kay], Kevin [Tuholski] and Oliver [Sharpe] into the match. They all did really well."

Cal senior scrumhalf Kurihara scored the first try of the game in the fifth minute, and junior flyhalf Sam Walsh followed with a score in the 18th minute. Junior flanker Nathan Zlystra and senior wing Marcus Shankland also scored tries to give Cal a 22-0 lead at halftime.

The Bears lost captain Sam Golla because of an injury in the first half, but it did not slow Cal's offense in the second half.

Jake Broekhuizen scored two tries in the 49th and 54th minutes, and senior outside center Seth Purdey scored a try in the 57th-minute before Arizona broke through for its only score of the game.

Junior lock Max Murphy closed out the scoring for Cal.

"Today was definitely bittersweet," said senior Owen Duvall, who played his final game for Cal. "It was pretty sentimental getting to step on this pitch one last time. We definitely have a lot to be grateful for. Getting these three games wasn't easy, but the guys really took it on board, stayed disciplined and didn't allow COVID-19 to creep into the team, so I'm really proud of the boys for how we overcame it."

Kurihara also played his final game at Witter Rugby Field.

"As a team, we are all very grateful to have had a season," Kurihara said. "It's all been very abbreviated, but we are very happy to have played some rugby. This year has brought its own unique set of challenges, but I'm very proud of the way we've handled them. The boys showed real resiliency this semester."

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Cover photo by Guy Warren Photography

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Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53

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