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Back To Basics Takes Cal Women To Conference 7s Title

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Back To Basics Takes Cal Women To Conference 7s Title

Alex Ho photo.

The University of California women's team might not have concentrated on 7s training, but it didn't really matter.

Cal won the Pacific Mountain West women's 7s championships this past weekend at Stanford, overcoming an early loss to the hosts to beat San Francisco, Chico State, Fresno State, and, in the final, Stanford.

"We didn't have a lot of prep time," said Cal Head Coach Elvis Sevealii. "We've been focusing on 15s. We have 20, 25 new players and we needed to get them used to playing as part of the team. So 7s was on the backburner."

That might be the reason Cal lost to Stanford in the opening round 19-10. Certainly Sevealii wasn't thrilled with the performance.

"I pulled them aside and we talked about getting back to basics," the coach said. "We just needed to focus on the skills and trust the process."

And also, back themselves. It's not uncommon for young players to worry about being a good teammate, and pass up good scoring opportunities in order to pass off to support.

But sometimes, the space is right there asking to be exploited. 

"When they see an opportunity I wanted them to take it; back themselves," said Sevealii. "They adjusted. They bought into the process. Defensively I thought we did really well. We took time and space away from the opposition. We wanted to suffocate them."

And they did. After that 19-10 loss, they beat USF 22-5, Chico State 19-10, and Fresno State 22-12. In the final, they took control early and got revenge on Stanford 24-5.

With Hope Cooper (a hooker in both 15s and 7s) getting a ton of work done all around the field, and with Isabella Ciraulo organizing the attack and setting up her teammates, Cal got better each game.

Denencia Fernandes was an excellent finisher and was tournament MVP. But Christina Park also put in a ton of work while Alyssa Collins was back from injury and played every minute of every game.

All of that added up to a championship, and perhaps a harbinger of even bigger things to come from the Cal women. They are conference 7s champs without actually worrying too much about 7s. Imagine how they will do in 15s.