Top-seeded Cal’s dreams of a national championship were derailed in semifinals of NCAA tournament match play on Saturday, as 15th-seeded Illinois posted a 3-2 upset victory over the Bears.
Cal had hoped to complete a spectacular season in which it had won 11 of 13 previous tournaments, including both the Pac-12 and NCAA regional events. Instead, the Bears bowed out in the semifinals for the second straight season.
The Illini will meet No. 2-seeded Alabama in the final Sunday morning.
Illinois’ Thomas Pieters clinched a 1-up victory on the 20th hole with a par. Cal’s Max Homa, the tournament medalist, made bogey when his 8-foot par putt missed to the left of the hole.
Michael Weaver got a win for Cal with a 1 up verdict over Thomas Detry. Brandon Hagy also prevailed, beating Alex Burge 4 and 3.
The Illini’s other wins came courtesy of Brian Campbell, who scored a 2 and 1 win over Michael Kim, and Charlie Danielson, who beat Joel Stalter 3 and 2.
Alabama defeated host Georgia Tech 3-0-2 in the other semifinal. Alabama will make its second consecutive trip to the final match; the Crimson Tide lost to Texas in the championship last year.