Bears Stage Remarkable Comeback, Beat Vandals 31-17

Berkeley, CA – High on the hill inside California Memorial Stadium on Saturday, September 16, 2023, the University of California Golden Bears football team displayed determination and resilience as they overcame a 17-point deficit to secure a 31-17 victory over the University of Idaho Vandals. The game marked the first meeting between the two schools in nearly 90 years, and the Bears continued their undefeated streak, now standing at 5-0 against the Vandals.

The Bears entered this contest seeking redemption following a disappointing 14-10 loss at home to Auburn just one week earlier. The memory of that mistake-filled defeat seemed to linger in the air as they took the field once again. Compounding their challenges, they were without their star running back, Jaydn Ott, who remained sidelined due to an injury sustained in the game against Auburn.

Early on, it appeared that California might be in for another frustrating outing. The Vandals surged to a 17-0 lead in the first 18 minutes of play, and at one point, they held a 200-47 advantage in total yards. However, the Bears refused to back down, showcasing their character and resilience.

One of the standout performances of the game came from running back Isaiah Ifanse. The Montana State transfer carried the ball 22 times for an impressive 137 yards and contributed a crucial touchdown. It marked Ifanse's first career 100-yard game at Cal and the 18th of his college career. Ashton Stredick also played a pivotal role in anchoring the Bears' ground game, accumulating 77 yards on 11 carries and helping the team average an impressive 6.0 yards per carry while outgaining the Vandals on the ground by a margin of 256-108.

Quarterback Sam Jackson V was another key contributor, both through the air and on the ground. Jackson passed for 108 yards and two touchdowns, showcasing his ability to lead the Bears' offense effectively. He also rushed for 41 yards and added another touchdown, despite being forced out of the game following a hard hit. Jackson's performance played a crucial role in the Bears' comeback.

The turning point of the game came in the second half when the Bears staged an incredible comeback, scoring 31 unanswered points, with 17 of those points coming in the second half alone. This remarkable resurgence not only showcased the team's physical prowess but also their mental toughness and ability to adapt to challenging situations.

The Bears' defense continued to be a bright spot, forcing three more turnovers during the game, bringing their season total to 10 turnovers forced. Cal entered the day leading the Pac-12 in turnovers forced, demonstrating their ability to disrupt opposing offenses.

Cal coach Justin Wilcox acknowledged that while he expected a better start from his team, he was proud of their ability to rally and secure the victory. With this hard-fought win, the Golden Bears are looking ahead to their final season in the Pac-12, and they will face a tough test next Saturday night on the road in Seattle against No. 8 Washington. The lessons learned from their comeback victory over Idaho will undoubtedly serve them well as they prepare for the upcoming challenge. Whether the experience versus Idaho was the wakeup call remains to be seen. Cal plays Washington at 7:30 PM on Saturday, September 23. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering NCAA football, including various Pacific-12 Conference member institutions, since 2007. All images taken by Jason Reed for American Presswire and ©2023 Jason Reed for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. Ahsan Awan can be found on X as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi. Jason Reed can be found on X as @FieldofDD and on Instagram as @fieldofdaydreams.

Cardinal Ready to Soar in 2023 Home Opener vs Sac State Hornets

Palo Alto, CA - The excitement is building as the Stanford University Cardinal football team gears up for their highly anticipated 2023 home opener, set to take place on September 16th, as they face off against the Sacramento State University Hornets. The Cardinal, with a rich football tradition and a commitment to excellence, are ready to kick off their season in style at Stanford Stadium.

Stanford has a storied history when it comes to football. The Cardinal football program has consistently been a highly capable and dangerous force in college football, boasting a long list of achievements on and off the field. With a legacy of producing NFL talent and a commitment to both academic and athletic excellence, Stanford is a name synonymous with success in collegiate sports.

While the Cardinal are certainly the favorites, it's important not to underestimate their opponents. The Hornets may not have the same national recognition as Stanford, and play in the lower Football Championship Subdivision tier, they bring their own strengths and determination to the field.

The Hornets have been steadily improving their football program over the years and have been competitive in their conference. In recent seasons, they have made notable strides, and their offense can be explosive, capable of putting up points in a hurry. The Cardinal defense will need to be on high alert to prevent any potential upsets.

Cardinal Head Coach Troy Taylor coached the Hornets on their way toward contending for a 2022 FCS National Championship, and his awareness of their weapons and capabilities is certainly offset by their knowledge of his style and schemes now on display at Stanford.

After soundly defeating the University of Hawai’I on the road in Honolulu 37-24 on September 1, the Cardinal suffered a road loss to the now #5 ranked University of Southern California Trojans by a score of 56-10 in Los Angeles on September 9. What that loss means regarding the Cardinal’s prospects in the Pac-12 conference remains to be seen. Their September 23 game versus the Arizona Wildcats will reveal a lot more about how good they can be under their new coach. After all, the next six games are all in-conference, and they’re all versus currently ranked opponents: #13 Oregon, at #18 Colorado, #24 UCLA, #8 Washington, at #23 Washington State, and at #16 Oregon State. Then the play at home against a Cal team that just narrowly lost to Auburn, and they wrap up the season at home versus #9 Notre Dame. This is absolutely one of the toughest schedules in all of college football this season.

While the season ahead may be difficult, the fact remains that the atmosphere at Stanford Stadium during a home game is something special. Fans from all over the Bay Area and beyond come together to support the team. Tailgating, school spirit, and a sea of cardinal and white create an unforgettable game day experience.

Stanford Stadium, with its modern amenities and scenic backdrop of the Stanford campus, provides the perfect setting for a thrilling evening of college football. Whether you're a passionate alum, a local fan, or just someone looking for a great time, attending a Stanford Cardinal game is a special experience.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering NCAA football, including various Pacific-12 Conference member institutions, since 2007. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2023 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.


Cal Golden Bears Narrowly Miss Home Opening Victory vs Auburn Tigers

BERKELEY, CA - In a thrilling Saturday night matchup at Memorial Stadium, the University of California Golden Bears football team came tantalizingly close to upsetting the Auburn Tigers. In fact, they led for a significant time during the game. Despite beating the spread (ESPN reported Auburn -4.5 at kickoff), the Golden Bears fell short, unable to capitalize on multiple opportunities that could have secured a remarkable win. The final score, 14-10 in favor of the Tigers, left Cal fans on the edge of their seats until the very end.

From the outset, it was evident that Cal had the strength and depth needed to win the game. The defense held its ground for the most part, with standout moments throughout the game. However, a pivotal moment came during a sustained Auburn drive that shifted the momentum significantly. Surprisingly, neither Head Coach Justin Wilcox nor Defensive Coordinator Peter Sirmon called a timeout to regroup while the defense struggled to regain their composure.

At that point, the score had been 10-7 favoring Cal. The third quarter was scoreless on both sides. Cal had the edge. Things didn’t give up the lead until the final quarter. The Golden Bears' defense showed promise, but they were unable to make the crucial stop that could have swung the game in their favor.

Cal's defense really was exceptional. They forced an incredible four turnovers, the last of which was a forced fumble with under five minutes left on the clock. The Bears recovered the ball in Auburn territory. They needed a touchdown to take the lead because they were trailing by four points. That’s because, on the offensive side of the ball, Cal's kicking game left so much to be desired. The team's kicker missed an astonishing three field goals, and the offense suffered a turnover in the redzone, all of which denied the Bears critical points that could have secured a victory despite the defensive breakdown that ultimately led to Auburn’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. The missed opportunities loomed large as Cal fought to close the gap in the final minutes of the game, but they just couldn’t get it done.

"Our defense did a really good job for most of the night," said Bears Head Coach Justin Wilcox. And yes, save for that one fourth quarter drive, they did a fantastic job. With three timeouts available during that drive, the error was on the coaches.

Despite the loss, the Bears demonstrated that they are a stronger team than many had expected. Looking ahead to their next matchup against the Idaho Vandals this weekend (September 16), the team is poised to bounce back and secure a win. Everyone expects that. However, the true test will come on September 23, when they face the Washington Huskies in Seattle. The close contest against Auburn showed that the Bears can put up a fierce fight, and they are eager to make their final year in the Pacific-12 Conference a memorable one.

Next year, Cal will be competing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and that will present a new set of challenges. As they bid farewell to the PAC-12, the Golden Bears aim to depart on a high note, leaving their mark on the conference before embarking on a new football frontier. Cal fans can only hope that the team's determination and resilience will carry them to victory in the games to come and leave them eligible for a postseason bowl game.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering NCAA football, including various Pacific-12 Conference member institutions, since 2007. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2023 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.

The Remarkable Turnaround of Inter Miami CF

Ft. Lauderdale, FL - In the world of Major League Soccer, few stories have been as captivating and inspiring as the dramatic turnaround of Inter Miami CF. From a team languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, they have risen to become a force to be reckoned with. This is due in large part to the strategic vision of club co-owner, David Beckham; and of course, the unwavering support of fellow owner Jorge Mas and his brother, José. Beckham and the Mas brothers' tenure at the club has seen Inter Miami CF transform into a powerhouse, boasting a star-studded roster and increasingly impressive performances.

David Beckham's involvement with Inter Miami CF has been a game-changer for the club. His star power, experience, and deep connections within the football world have allowed him to attract top talent. Perhaps the most seismic move of all is the signing of none other than Lionel Messi, the Argentine legend who is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. Messi's arrival at DRV PNK Stadium sent shockwaves through the footballing world and instantly elevated Inter Miami CF's profile.

But Beckham's ambitions didn't stop there. He also brought in other world-class players, such as Jordi Alba, Josef Martinez, Carlos Dos Santos, Leonardo Campana, Facundo Farias, and the ever-reliable Sergio Busquets. These acquisitions have turned Inter Miami CF into a formidable squad with a perfect blend of youth and experience.

Under the guidance of head coach Tata Martino, Inter Miami CF is flourishing. Martino, known for his tactical acumen and ability to get the best out of his players, has played a pivotal role in the club's resurgence. He has instilled a winning mentality and cohesive style of play that has made Inter Miami CF a formidable team.

Inter Miami CF's journey from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings has been nothing short of extraordinary. The team's commitment to improvement, coupled with the leadership of Beckham and Martino, has led to an incredible transformation. The fans, who have stuck by their team through thick and thin, have been rewarded with a memorable turnaround season.

One of the crowning achievements of this remarkable season is Inter Miami CF's victory in the League's Cup. The triumph is a testament to the team's dedication and resilience. They defeated top-notch opponents on their way to the title, showcasing their newfound strength and ambition.

As if the League's Cup win wasn't enough, Inter Miami CF is now gearing up for the US Open Cup final on September 27. This high-stakes match will be a true test of the team's mettle, and fans are eagerly anticipating the showdown with the Houston Dynamo.

While the 2023 MLS Cup playoffs remain just out of reach for Inter Miami CF, their remarkable journey is far from over. In fact, with nine league matches remaining, it is possible they can rise above the line and compete for the MLS Cup. Regardless of how the season may end, by winning the Leagues Cup, the team will compete in the prestigious CONCACAF Champions League, where they will have the opportunity to prove themselves on the international stage. Moreover, if they can win the CCL, they can qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup, a dream that seemed impossible just a short while ago.

Despite playing just north of Miami, in Ft. Lauderdale, the city of Miami has embraced Inter Miami CF with open arms. The vibrant culture, diverse fan base, and passionate supporters have made DRV PNK Stadium a fortress for the team. The city's love for football is palpable, and it has become a hub for soccer enthusiasts, both locally and globally.

Inter Miami CF's journey serves as an inspiration to soccer fans everywhere. Miami, DRV PNK Stadium, and Ft. Lauderdale have all played pivotal roles in this incredible revival, and the future looks incredibly bright for the club and the community. The club hosts Sporting Kansas City on September 9 at 7:30 PM EST.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering professional soccer, including MLS, since 2014. He has been covering Inter Miami CF since 2021. All images taken by Chris Arjoon for American Presswire and ©2023 Chris Arjoon for American Presswire, used with permission and subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. Ahsan Awan can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi. Chris Arjoon can be found on Twitter as @PicsBrit and on Instagram as @brit__pics.

Earthquakes Never Say Die, Keep Fighting for MLS Playoff Spot

San Jose, CA - The San Jose Earthquakes have been shaking things up during the 2023 season. With a blend of promising young talent and experienced players, they remain on a mission to secure a playoff spot in the highly competitive Western Conference. One of the driving forces behind the Earthquakes' success has been the dynamic duo of Cristian Espinoza and Cade Cowell. Espinoza, an Argentine winger known for his relentlessly fast play and precise crosses, has been a vital playmaker for the team. His ability to create scoring opportunities and deliver pinpoint assists has made him a fan favorite and a legitimate all-star.

On the other side of the pitch, young American forward Cade Cowell has been the breakout talent of the season. His lightning-quick dribbling and composure in front of the goal have made him a rising star in MLS, and he has successfully captured the attention of several European clubs. Cowell's incredible work ethic and fearless approach have contributed significantly to the Earthquakes' offensive firepower.

On the sidelines, Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez has been instrumental in molding the team's identity and fostering a winning mentality. Gonzalez, known for his tactical acumen and commitment to developing young talent, has brought a fresh perspective to the club. His ability to blend experienced players with emerging stars like Cowell has been a key factor in the team's improved performance.

Not to be neglected for their contributions, the Earthquakes' loyal fan bases, the "Ultras" and the “Seismic Union,” have transformed PayPal Park into a hostile fortress. With their passionate chants and unwavering support, the atmosphere in the stadium is electric on both ends. The players feed off this energy, and that makes every home match a daunting task for the visitors. The crowd's fervor has undoubtedly played a role in the Earthquakes' resurgence this season.

The Earthquakes currently find themselves in a competitive battle to get above the line in the Western Conference. With 36 points, tied with a Minnesota United club they just tied last weekend, yet sitting one place below at number eight, the Quakes remain on the outside looking in as the final stretch of the season plays out. They play on the road at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. against a DC United club that finds themselves in a similar situation, being currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. For both clubs, the upcoming match on September 9 is a must-win. With only seven matches remaining, most if not all of which are against clubs standing higher in the table, every point counts.

To secure a spot in the MLS playoffs, the Earthquakes will need to improve their current form and increase their consistency. The road to the playoffs is challenging, and the Quakes must focus on solidifying their defense, maintaining their attacking prowess, and continuing to develop depth and talent. The leadership of Coach Gonzalez will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in navigating this path.

As the season winds down, the Earthquakes host Real Salt Lake, currently fourth in the west, then travel to Portland to challenge a Timbers squad below them in the table, but whose home, Providence Park, is among the most difficult to come away with a win. The Quakes then host Nashville, who not only sits above the line in the east, but who recently played well in the Leagues Cup final and then traveled to tie the same Messi-powered Inter-Miami club who beat them at home in the cup final. After that, the Quakes travel to Minnesota for a rematch with the club they just tied at home in San Jose. They round out the season at Dallas, and then complete by hosting Austin. Both of those clubs are currently sitting right behind the Quakes in the table, and both are fighting for a chance at the playoffs.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering professional soccer, including MLS and the San Jose Earthquakes, since 2014. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2023 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.

Republic Returns to Hughes, Capacity Crowd Proves Club Remains Built For MLS

Sacramento, CA - In celebration of a decade of soccer excellence, Sacramento Republic FC returned to where it all began at Hughes Stadium on August 26, 2023 in a fiercely competitive USL Championship western conference match versus Orange County SC. The 10-year anniversary match marked a significant milestone in the history of the club and provided the 20,231 fans on site with an unforgettable evening of soccer action that once again proved that Sacramento is indeed capable of delivering crowds that keep up with nearly anything domestic rival league Major League Soccer has to offer.

The boys in old glory red have been a cornerstone of professional soccer in Northern California for a decade. During that span, the club has made significant strides both on and off the pitch, including the inaugural season championship for which they have a star on the kit. Hughes Stadium, their original home, holds a special place in the hearts of supporters, and the 10-year anniversary match was an emotional reunion between the team and its dedicated fanbase.

The festivities began hours before the kickoff as fans arrived wearing scarves and jerseys. Tailgates filled the air with a variety of sounds and smells, and chants of "Glory, Glory, Sacramento!" echoed through the parking lots and across the bridge as the Tower Bridge Battalion supporters group approached. The excitement was palpable, and it was clear that this night would be one to remember.

As the players took to the field, the energy in Hughes Stadium reached a feverish pitch. SRFC came out determined and fought hard. OCSC, however, proved to be formidable opponents, creating an intense match that did not go the way the home team had hoped. Orange County won the contest 2-0. Sacramento’s legendary midfielder, iconic captain and final founding roster member, Rodrigo Lopez, said, “the result was not ideal... we will bounce back.” Returning after a 4-month injury recovery period, having Lopez return to the pitch was an incredible victory; indeed, he has bounced back.

Republic FC head coach Mark Briggs expressed his gratitude to the fans, saying, "This victory is not just for us, but for the amazing supporters who have been with us since day one. The energy in Hughes Stadium was incredible, and it's a testament to the incredible bond between this team and our city."

The 10-year anniversary match at Hughes Stadium was more than just a soccer game; it was a celebration of the passion, dedication, and success of the Sacramento Republic FC over the past decade. As the club continues to grow and evolve, this milestone reminds everyone that their roots run deep, and their future remains as promising as ever. Sacramento can be proud of the Republic FC and the incredible journey they've embarked upon since that inaugural season in 2014.

Following the match at Hughes, Sacramento suffered a loss on the road in Phoenix, but then managed to capture a road win at rival Oakland this past Saturday. They currently remain in first place in the western conference by two points over San Antonio. The club returns to the pitch September 16 at Heart Health Park, where they will host El Paso. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 PM PST, and the match will be televised on ESPN+.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering professional soccer, including USL and Sacramento Republic FC, since their debut in 2014. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2023 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.

Bravo! Anchorage, Alaska emerges as a world class destination for opera.

Opera is among the oldest performance arts in the world. Through song accompanied by dance, scenery, and drama, opera tells a story authentically, without microphones or amplification, and with music performed by a live orchestra. Asked where great opera is found, people mention The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. They mention Teatro alla Scala in Italy, The Bolshoi Theatre in Russia, The Royal Opera House in England, or even the Sydney Opera House in Australia.

Apart from The Met, when people talk about high quality professional opera in the USA, they mention Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Fe.  For most people, even avid fans, Alaska is not on the radar. However, there’s an amazing gem way up in the great north: Anchorage Opera.

You read that correctly.  Anchorage, Alaska is home to excellent professional opera. The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is a fantastic venue loaded with talent at all levels. The staff, the crews, and especially the talent, are on a level worthy of national attention. It won’t be long before people all over the country, and around the world, begin pointing to Anchorage as a mandatory opera destination.

Opera season traditionally begins in the Fall and runs through winter and to the following Spring, so the current production is the 2022-2023 season finale.   Running May 5, 6 and 7, Anchorage Opera presents French composer Georges Bizet’s “Carmen.” Set in 19th century Seville, Spain, the story is about a hopeless soldier named Don Jose who abandons his childhood sweetheart, Micaela, and turns his back on the military to pursue the attention of a fiery and exotic gypsy seductress, Carmen, who also happens to be a smuggler.

Perhaps not at all untimely given the modern social-political climate in the USA and around the world, Bizet’s Carmen is said to depict political unrest in 19th century France, where issues of race, gender, and social class became the fuel for power struggles in government and throughout society. With Spain as a cover, and the unique addition of bullfighting flare, Bizet likely managed to avoid persecution for criticism of his own government at the time.

In Anchorage, the staff, crew and cast are every bit as diverse as one may dream. The mix of local community members with pedigreed professionals from abroad is part of what makes the productions so special. Stage Director Laura Alley is a name that should be familiar to experienced operagoers. Her list of credits is lengthy and spans the entire country and several places abroad. In fact, her husband recently retired as the stage manager at The Met. How’s that for a power couple!

Anchorage Opera Stage Manager Helen Irene Muller is nothing short of incredible. She’s a proud Alaskan who has worked across the country as well. Her credits range from community theatre to Broadway, and it shows. She communicates masterfully with everyone and knows exactly what the orchestra is doing at all times, and where the chorus and principals plug in. She does that while reading dialogue, maintaining command on a headset, and directing traffic on the ground. She’s not only a pro; she is a gem!

In fact, each of the staff members is indispensable. The person tending to the ropes, the lights, the props, the stage sets, the backdrops - every one of them loves doing it and does the job with seemingly limitless generosity and passion. Watching the crew work is a marvelous experience. Of course, what they do makes it possible for the cast to be successful, and that is truly one of the best things about Anchorage Opera.

A simple glance at a program tells you all you need to know. Anchorage Opera isn’t just a local effort. Audrey Babcock (Carmen) is a highly decorated international talent. Benjamin Werley (Don Jose) has a lengthy resume of credits from all over the country. Catalina Cuervo (Micaela) is without a doubt one of the finest female Latin American opera singers in the world.  These are headliners, and including rising star Alex Soare (Escamillo), these are legends. This degree of above-the-line casting is alone worth making every effort to see the production.

In addition to the big-name stars, there are many highly regarded and very talented local performers of all ages who donated their time and resources to participate in this production of Carmen, and in every production cast Anchorage Opera puts together. From Zoe Mellerstig enthusiastically waving her flag and leading the Children’s Chorus across the stage, to UAA graduates Amanda Boger and Christabel Sosa lending their beautiful voices to the principal roles of Mercedes and Frasquita, to the dazzling supernumerary Matadors, it is clear there is a place in Anchorage Opera for anyone who loves music and wants to be involved in this greatest of art forms.

As for the opening night performance of Carmen, there is only one word to describe it: magnificent! Every line, every look, every aria was flawlessly on point and beautifully delivered.  With a skillful orchestra masterfully led by Principal Conductor Brian DeMaris, the audience enjoyed such fan-favorites as Carmen’s “Habanera” and the “Toreador Song.”

Audrey Babcock’s voice projected with power and punch as she filled the stage with fiery seduction and dance.  Babcock also lent her talents as choreographer to this production and led an enthusiastic chorus in Flamenco during her dazzling “Gypsy Song.”   Benjamin Werley delivered a pure and consistent performance showing no signs of fatigue despite his many stage battles, and even captured a shred of sympathy with his performance of “La fleur que tu m’avais jetee.”  Catalina Cuervo’s voice soared in an unbelievable performance that tugged at the heart strings and brought people to tears, particularly with her aria “Je dis, que rien ne m’epouvante,” sung while she is frightened and alone in the mountains, praying for courage while searching for her love, Don Jose.  The character of Escamillo is always a favorite, and Alex Soare is no exception as he dazzled the audience with his charming Toreador Song, “Votre toast, je peux vous le rende,” winning more hearts than Carmen’s!

With only two nights remaining for the Anchorage Opera’s “Carmen,” the community needs to act fast to get tickets to this exceptional, must-see production!   Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone, or at the box office.  Come join the fun Saturday 5/6 at 8pm, or Sunday 5/7 at 4pm.

Looking ahead, the 2023-2024 season is just around the corner.  This exciting upcoming season features Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love,” Derrick Wang’s “Scalia/Ginsburg,” and Verdi’s “La Traviata.” Follow Anchorage Opera on social media to stay updated, find out more information and learn how to get involved in this gem of a production company!

Early Inflection Point for Oregon, Pac-12

The Oregon Ducks find themselves at an important inflection point. Sitting at 2-1, and entering conference play on the road, this very well could be a defining moment for both the season and for new Head Coach Dan Lanning. Suffice it to say, the season opener was shocking for most college football fans. Losing 49-3 on the road to the defending national champion Georgia Bulldogs in what was both their season opener as well as the high profile beginning of the 2022 college football season looked bad.

To the casual fan, the Ducks were completely dominated and never capable of doing anything. To the more well-versed fan, it was clear the Ducks weren’t so much incapable of quality performance as much as they appeared physically overmatched by the talent on the Georgia roster. To the experienced analyst, the take was different.

Experienced analysts on the field said the Ducks looked as one would expect of a team that was just introduced to their new playbooks 6-8 weeks prior. Some said they needed 2-3 more weeks of practice to get their schemes down, and they pointed to the miscues and confusion both at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield.

However, there’s another take on the matter worthy of mention. An analyst on the sideline in Atlanta suggested the Oregon Athletic Director lost the game. That’s right. Call it a bold take, but let’s examine the history. The Georgia Bulldogs have been a great team for many years. Leading up to their 2015 campaign, they were under the direction of head coach Mark Richt. They were high performing, posted 10+ win seasons, and back in 2006, they had agreed to a home-and-home series with Oregon.

In 2014, the Oregon Ducks performed well, won the college football playoff semifinal, and went to the 2015 national championship game where they lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meanwhile, the Georgia Bulldogs lost Mark Richt to the University of Miami. Georgia’s athletic director called the Oregon athletic director and cancelled the home-and-home series. While citing travel distance as a concern, Georgia knew they were going to have a new head coach, and they certainly did not want to be embarrassed on the road. In fact, Kirby Smart, who became the new head coach after being the defensive coordinator at the University of Alabama, struggled in his first year and led the Bulldogs to an underwhelming 8-5 record. Would they have lost on the road at Oregon? that is difficult to say. However, the risk was real, perhaps too real to realize.

Fast forward to Oregon in 2021. The Ducks had recruited well under then Head Coach Mario Cristobal. They understood their offensive and defensive systems, and they had At least half a decade of experience with their existing playbook. When Cristobal announced that he was leaving, Oregon’s athletic director should have called the athletic director at Georgia and canceled the game. Weather he cited travel distance, the expense, or something else, is neither here nor there. The bottom line is that it was Georgia coming off a national championship game performance, one that they were successful in, and it was the Ducks who had a new head coach and a new system to install. Ironically, Oregon lost their head coach to the University of Miami, the same place Georgia had lost its previous coach.

Thus, one can make the argument that it was not in fact the athletes on the field, nor the coaches on the sideline, who lost the game against Georgia, but that it was in fact the responsibility of the athletic director, and that he set the program up to face extremely difficult, if not insurmountable odds playing on the road in Atlanta. A fair leadership advisory would probably include a note to accept responsibility and move on.

Coming off that trip, the Ducks were 0-1. Many mocked them as the laughingstock of college football, but the truth is that this team may very well have been much more talented than the product that appeared on the field in Atlanta. In week two, Oregon faced a completely overmatched FCS opponent, Eastern Washington. The Eagles were defeated as expected, and the ducks appeared to be getting back on track. Week 3 cemented that after the ducks delivered a decisive win over a highly ranked BYU team.

Now, the ducks are headed to Pullman, Washington, to play the Washington State Cougars. Always a tricky opponent, and entering the game with a record of 3-0, that includes a significant road win at then ranked Wisconsin, and a decisive home win over Colorado State, it is clear the WSU Cougars are dangerous. A road win in the Palouse will not only further add to the story that Oregon is in fact a good team this season, but it will also help the team keep pace in a very competitive Pac-12 conference race.

That is where things get particularly interesting. USC currently sits atop the Pac-12 South standings, and while that may be consistent with popular predictions, it certainly is not consistent with the new head coach and playbook distinction asserted as an issue in Oregon’s opening loss. Then again, USC opened the season against it completely overmatched Rice, and then on the road at unranked Stanford, followed by a return home against unranked Fresno State. Nevertheless, they’re 3-0 and 1-0 in the conference. That has them at the top of the standings. UCLA sits behind USC, followed by 2-1 Arizona and 2-1 Utah, who remains highly ranked despite an opening road loss to the Florida Gators. The Pac-12 south will shake out over time as these teams play each other, of course.

The same is true for the Pac-12 north. Things will sort themselves out over time. As mentioned, Oregon begins that mission this weekend in Pullman. However, it is currently 3-0 Oregon State who sits atop the north standings, and the ranked 3-0 Washington Huskies who sit right behind them. WSU, also 3-0, sits right behind them. Call that a formality as none have played a conference opponent yet, and all are undefeated. That will change this weekend. Oregon State hosts USC, Washington hosts Stanford, and as previously mentioned, WSU hosts Oregon. In another interesting game perhaps slightly under the radar, Cal hosts Arizona, and the winner of that game will be 3-1, 1-1 Pac-12. Beware of dark horses.

Perhaps it’s too early for predictions. The transfer portal, those graduate transfer students, the pandemic and its extra year of eligibility, conference realignment – whatever the issues are, there are a few things that are true: (1) it is difficult to win in the Palouse; (2) it is difficult to win at Husky Stadium; (3) no ranked opponent has won in Corvallis in over a decade, nearly two! What is also true is that the weather is changing fast. From the high heat of summer and the fire smoke that filled the air during the segue to Fall, things have changed in a hurry. It’s getting chilly at night. There’s rain in some forecasts. It’s football season, and over the next couple of months we’ll find out how good the Ducks and the rest of the Pac-12 conference really are.

Back in Atlanta, Georgia fans had nothing bad to say about Oregon. On the contrary, several said “we’ll see you in the playoffs.” Whether that happens this year or not remains to be seen. There are a lot of moving parts this year and going forward. All a team can do is take it one week at a time.

Ahsan Awan has been covering NCAA sports for over a decade, and has been covering college football, including the Oregon Ducks and the Pacific 12 Conference, since 2008. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire. ©2022 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire, subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.

Keep calm and power on, Sacramento balances cup and league play

SACRAMENTO – Republic FC currently sits alone in fourth place in the west. They could move up to third with the combination of a win on Saturday versus Oakland Roots SC and a loss or tie by the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, whom they defeated 3-0 at home just over a week ago.

After beating MLS side Sporting KC in the semifinals of the US Open Cup, Sacramento channeled their energy forward, traveled to Charleston, SC and logged an impressive 4-2 victory on the road. Then they beat New Mexico on the road 2-1. Then they tied Rio Grande Valley 1-1 at home, and fatigue began to set in.

What happened next was a surprising 1-0 road loss to Monterey Bay. With starters resting, however, it’s difficult to point to this as being a moment of breakdown. No team wants to lose, but perhaps the boys in old glory red had one worth sacrificing to pace themselves.

Pace themselves for what, you may wonder. The obvious! Sacramento will travel to play MLS side Orlando City SC on the road, in Orlando, in the US Open Cup final scheduled for September 7, and that match is SOLD OUT. Perhaps feeling the pressure and exhibiting both respect and concern for their opponent, Orlando successfully petitioned MLS to postpone their originally scheduled match against in-state rival Inter-Miami CF just a few days before.

In contrast, Sacramento has taken a different approach. After the strong showing against Colorado Springs just over a week ago, the club fell 2-1 to Las Vegas on the road. Again, resting parts of the starter rotation likely in preparation for Orlando, but also perhaps realizing that once again, there was room to absorb a road loss without jeopardizing the USL playoffs.

So here we are, fierce rival Oakland coming to Heart Health Park on Saturday, August 27. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 PM Pacific. A win, coupled with a Switchbacks loss, would elevate Republic FC into third place in the west. Moving into third would be good. Getting above that may be a bit more complicated. Leave that conversation for another time. The Roots are up next, and then something interesting happens.

Before Sacramento travels to Orlando for their September 7 contest, the club faces Louisville City FC, the leader of USL’s east division, on the road. That match will take place on Saturday, September 3 at 4:30 PM Pacific. A win there would be fantastic, but its certainly not expected. What is likely is for Sacramento to field reserves and keep the starters out.  Unlike Orlando, Sacramento is choosing to play on and play through. They may surprise everyone, but odds favor a road loss.

That said, a win this Saturday versus Oakland could be strategically critical to Republic FC positioning to secure home field for a first-round playoff match later this Fall. After Orlando, the club has only seven matches remaining in USL play. Five of those are at home. Two are on the road, and two are versus the clubs sitting above them, San Antonio, and San Diego. To say fans must hang on to their seats until the very end this season is an understatement.

Sacramento's next match is August 27 versus USL Championship side Oakland Roots SC. The match will be played at Sacramento’s Heart health Park at 8:00 PM PST. The club plays MLS side Orlando City SC at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final on Wednesday, September 7 at 5:00 PM PST. Broadcast details are pending.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering professional soccer, including USL and Sacramento Republic FC, since their debut in 2014. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2022 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.

Indomitable Club

SACRAMENTO – With the California State Fair lighting up the sky in the background, neither triple digit heat, wildfire smoke in the air, nor the relentless attack of the presumably more talented roster of the MLS-side Sporting Kansas City team they hosted as their opponent, was capable of stopping the men in old glory red from achieving victory in U.S. Soccer's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal match. Through full time plus stoppage, two extra time periods and a thrilling penalty kick shootout, Republic FC fought hard and played well. Sacramento's incredible captain, Rodrigo Lopez, sealed the victory with a successful penalty kick to win the shootout 5-4 over Sporting Kansas City.

With a sell out announced last week, Republic FC stepped onto the pitch surrounded by a full house. There wasn't an empty seat in Heart Health Park. Despite multiple advances, shots on goal, and miraculous saves, the first half ended 0-0. The second half of regulation play was no different. Fans were riveted to their seats as extra time began. First, 15 minutes one way. Then, 15 minutes the other way. It was the same story. There were shots, there were saves, and the score remained tied 0-0. Then came the shootout.

throughout it all, club majority owner Kevin Nagle stood tall and watched. He never had any doubt. He never showede any concern. He was confident the team could win, and they did. The back-and-forth pentalty kicks took place right in front of him. At one point, Sacramento appaered to make a stop that would give them the lead, but it was called back. The second attempt by Sporting KC kept things even.

Then came KC's legedary Graham Zusi. He failed to convert. It all came down to Sacramento's great captain, Rodrigo Lopez. A wall of crowd noise, surrounded him as he prepared to shoot. The moment he kicked the ball, there was no doubt. It was going in. It went in. The crowd erupted in cheers. The team went wild. The players from Sporting KC looked stunned. Sacramento did it. They pulled off the unimaginable. The indomitable club won the 2022 U.S. Open Cup semifinal.

Sacramento now advances to play MLS side Orlando City SC on the road, in Orlando, in the Open Cup final scheduled for September 7. Further details about the next match will be coming soon. For now, let the celebration begin. For Sacramento, For Nagle, Lopez, all the players, staff and fans, the dream remains very much alive.

Sacramento's next match is July 30 at USL Championship side Charleston Battery. The match will be played at the Battery's Patriots Point Stadium at 4:30 PM PST. The club then plays a slate of six USL Championship league matches in August before heading Louisville for a USL side match on September 3. Then they are off to Orlando to face MLS side Orlando City in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final on Wednesday, September 7 at 5:00 PM PST. Within league play, Republic FC won't return home to host a USL opponent until Saturday, August 6, when they face Rio Grande Valley FC at Heart Health Park at 8:00 PM. Broadcast details are pending.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, and has been covering professional soccer, including USL and Sacramento Republic FC, since their debut in 2014. All images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire and ©2022 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. He can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.