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Cal at Tokyo Olympics: Morgan wins Bronze; Tarrago and Spain in Water Polo Gold Medal match
Anna Illes and Hungary will play for the Women's Water Polo Bronze
As the Tokyo 2020 Games wind down, the final Calympian medal total will be decided by the Women’s Water Polo Gold and Bronze medal matches. Let’s take a look at what the few remaining Calympians fared in the past few days.
Cal Olympic Medals (4 Golds, 4 Silvers, 6 Bronzes)
14) BRONZE - Women’s Soccer, Alex Morgan, USA
USWNT’s bid to win the Olympic Gold on the heel of the Women’s World Cup was again thwarted. USA fell to Canada by a 1-0 score in the semifinal where Calympian Alex Morgan started the match but was subbed out in the 70th minute of a scoreless match. A freakish defensive miscue by Stanford graduate Tierna Davidson, also the youngest active player on USWNT, turned into a penalty opportunity that the Canadians promptly capitalized on.
Morgan was held off from the starting XI for the Bronze Medal match in favor of the elder offensive players in Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe. Both of them managed to score a brace against Australia. Morgan did not come on the pitch until the 80th minute with USA up 4-2; it would have appeared that Morgan was ready to come in at the 70th-minute mark but USWNT were trying to give Carli Lloyd a shot at a third goal.
Unfortunately, for the Calympian, she did not really get many opportunities to score her 2nd goal in this tournament. Worse, Morgan appeared to hurt herself in stoppage time after the Australians had cut the lead to 4-3. USWNT interestingly opted to play just 10-man rather than to use the last substitution on Alex Morgan. Fortunately for the Americans, the match ended with that 4-3 score.
You can see some kind of brace on Alex Morgan’s left calf in the post-Bronze interview a day later.
With the next Women’s World Cup a mere 2 years away, USWNT will likely make some quick changes to prepare for that tournament. Alex Morgan’s spot on the team should be pretty secured still, but how will she gel with the younger up-and-coming midfielders as well as strikers who will replace Lloyd and Rapinoe?
In the interim between now and the next major tournament, how will USWNT’s search for the next wave of regulars impact Alex Morgan’s playtime? I really would love to see her pad her international goal stats in some of the friendlies against lesser teams, but those chances have often been used to find and develop younger players. Of course, Morgan’s history of negging injuries has meant that USWNT would play it safe and keep her out of those matches. May Alex Morgan have better health and better results in what may be her last cycle of Women’s World Cup and Olympics coming up (although the SoCal native will surely love to play for USWNT at the Los Angeles 2028 Games when she will be 39).
15) [UPDATED] BRONZE, Women’s Water Polo, Anna Illes, Hungary
Hungary took on Russia, competing under the banner of ROC for the Russian Olympic Committee after their system-wide doping scandal, for the Bronze medal. Russia defeated Hungary at this same match in 2016 Rio and it was another close one.
Hungarian took an early lead but could not hold on, Calympian Anna Illes played the role of the hero when she scored the tie-breaking goal with three minutes left. A goalie goal on an empty cage in the closing seconds made it an 11-9 Hungarian victory.
16) [UPDATED] SILVER, Women’s Water Polo, Roser Tarrago, Spain
Tarrago scored the first goal for Spain and they made a run before half-time to get within three goals, but it was all USA in this Gold medal match. Team USA cruised to their 3rd consecutive Gold medal. Hopefully, there will again be some Golden Bears on Team USA in 7 if not 3 years.
This was Tarrago’s 2nd Olympic Silver Medal after she and Team Spain also lost to Team USA at this stage at the London 2012 Games. Of course, that medal came before Tarrago joined Cal.
[Written before the Women’s Water Polo medal round]
3x Calympian Roser Tarrago and Spain will take on Team USA for the Gold on Friday night (technically Saturday morning) at 12:30 AM PT, August 7th. Tarrago and Spain won the Silver medal at the London 2012 Games where they lost to the USA in the Gold Medal match; this took place a couple of years before she came to Cal.
See more in the next section.
Cal is guaranteed at least one more medal from Women’s Water Polo
Bears vs. Bears in the Women’s Water Polo semifinal
With the way that the knockout brackets were filled, Cal was essentially assured of having a finalist with 3 of 4 teams in one half all having a Cal Bear on the squad. It also helped that the Calympians were on the 3 higher seeded teams in Spain, Hungary, and the Netherlands rather than China.
Spain took care of China in the quarterfinal by an 11-7 score. Hungary dashed the Dutch’s medal hope with a 14-11 quarterfinal victory. These two results set up a Cal vs. Cal matchup.
Tarrago and Illes were Cal teammates who had also battled many times on the international stage. The two drivers, AKA outside players, both took 5 shots in this semifinal with Illes registering the lone goal. On the more important matchup, Tarrago’s Spanish team prevailed 8-6 to earn another shot at the Olympic Gold.
2x Calympian Anna Illes and Hungary will take on Russia (or rather the Russian Olympic Committee) in the Bronze medal match on Friday night at 9:40pm PT. Hungary has placed 4th, just off the podium at both the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Games (Illes’ first Olympics), where Calympian Dora Antal, who eventually became Cal’s program leader in goals scored, was also a member of the Hungarian team.
Other Calympians in recent Olympic action
Camryn Rogers placed 5th in Women’s Hammer Throw
Cal rising Camryn Rogers nearly matched her career-best, set at the 2021 NCAA Championships, early in the women’s hammer throw final. On her second throw, Rogers recorded a 74.35m throw that was the top mark at the time. After three throws, the halfway point for the top 8 in the final session that started with 12 competitors, Rogers’ best throw was ranked 3rd. By not being able to improve on that mark, Rogers eventually finished 5th, a nonetheless great result for the 22-year-old first-time Canadian Calympian.
Rogers already earned Canada’s best-ever finish in this sport and should get even better and stronger by the 2024 Paris Games. If Camryn Rogers can continue her improvement in the next 3 years like what she had done in the past 2-3 years, she will be a serious Olympic medal threat for Paris.
USA Men’s Water Polo loses to Spain in quarterfinals
Luca Cupido and Johnny Hooper nearly helped Team USA to a major upset win in the knockout quarterfinals round. The two nations were tied at the half despite Spain being the top seed from winning their group and the USA being the 4th seed to just sneak into the knockout stage.
Hooper helped the USA to win the quarter opening sprints on 3 out of 4 occasions. Cupido scored the goal below that cut the USA deficit to just one late. Unfortunately, Cupido had also allowed Spain to earn a penalty, which they converted, just moments earlier when he left the penalty box a couple of seconds too early.
Hoops also registered a foul that turned into a penalty late as Spain pulled away 12-8 to advance to the semifinal. The USA does get to play more matches in the 5th-8th ladder, but their medal hope was dashed.
This was Luca Cupido’s 2nd Olympic Games and Johnny Hooper’s 1st. Both should still be in the national team mix for the 2024 Paris Games.