There was no medal on the line, but the big story for Cal Olympians was the USA-New Zealand match featuring former Bear Alex Morgan and current Cal senior Betsy Hassett.
Morgan, a rising star in the world of women’s soccer, recorded an assist on the game’s first goal by Abby Wambach. In a tweet, Wambach credited Morgan with “doing the dirty work with another ridiculous assist.” The US tacked on an insurance goal in the second half to come away with the 2-0 victory to advance to the tournament semifinals.
Before Sydney Leroux could score that second goal, Morgan had a rough and tumble with New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon. Rushing to catch up with a ball downfield, Morgan charged as Bindon came out of the box to get the ball in the 73rd minute. Morgan’s knee met Bindon’s head, leaving both prostrate on the field. Both seemed to be able to shake it off, somewhat miraculously given the nature of the contact.
Hassett, meanwhile, recorded two shots on USA goalie Hope Solo, who logged her third consecutive shutout. With the loss, Hassett’s club was eliminated from the tournament. The US team moves on to face Canada on Monday, while France and Japan duke it out for a spot in the finals.
The Olympic gods have largely smiled upon the Cal swimming program in the Olympics thus far, especially with Nathan Adrian getting the gold by the slightest of margins in the 100 free.
Apparently the tide has changed.
On Friday, two former Cal athletes fell just short of the medal stand. American sprinter Anthony Ervin, who won gold in the 50-meter freestyle in the 2000 Sydney Games, returned after retiring from swimming for another go. The now 31-year-old swam faster in this Olympic final, posting a time of 21.78 seconds, but placed fifth in the finals.
Serbian Milorad Cavic was even closer to medaling in his event, the 100-meter butterfly. Cavic took silver in the Beijing Games, famously just being outtouched by Michael Phelps. This time around, he posted the third fastest time in the finals, but did not receive a medal. There was a tie for silver, and Cavic tied Germany’s Steffen Deibler, which is considered a fourth-place tie. Phelps won. Again.
Like her fellow aquatic Bears, New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle just missed her shot at a medal. In the 800-meter freestyle, Boyle set an Oceania record with a time of 8:22.72, but finished in fourth place.
Former Cal swimmer Jessica Hardy won’t be in the middle lanes for Saturday’s 50 free, but her time of 24.68 on Friday was good enough to advance to the finals.
Women’s Water Polo
The Americans and the Chinese have been dueling in the medal standings, and headed into Saturday, the US leads by one medal. On Friday, that slight edge was also the margin of victory of the US women’s water polo team, who topped China, 7-6.
The game-winning goal came from Cal product Elsie Windes, who scored with just 3:57 minutes remaining in the match. The other former Bear in the game – Heather Petri – nabbed an assist on Maggie Steffens’ goal to give the US a 5-3 advantage.
After Friday’s events, Cal won’t be getting any more rowing medals. Cal alumnus Scott Frandsen of Canada, along with his partner David Calder, placed sixth in the men’s coxless pairs with a time of 6:30.49.
While there are no more medaling opportunities for former/current Cal rowers, a handful of them are still competing in B finals on Saturday. Frandsen’s teammate Will Dean is set to race in the men’s four, while American Julie Nichols will row in the women’s lightweight double skulls.