clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cal Olympic Sports Recap: Men's Soccer and Women's Swimming shined

It was a great weekend for Cal Athletics, whatever happened in Memorial Stadium on Saturday night notwithstanding. Men's Soccer got a big win over Furd to defend both its No.1 Ranking in the country and the top spot in the conference at the midpoint of conference play. Women's swimming got a big dual meet win over fellow aquatic powerhouse in Florida. Field Hockey, M. Water Polo, and Volleyball each got a win in the weekend. W.Soccer got a tie on Senior Day. GO BEARS!

Cal women's swimming is all smiles after defeating Florida this weekend.
Cal women's swimming is all smiles after defeating Florida this weekend.
Cal Women's Swimming Facebook

It is not quite the undefeated second week of the year, when every Cal team (even Cal Football) won their games. Still, this past week was quite a success for the Cal Olympic Sports teams, with plenty of victories across the board. We will start off with the reigning CGB Olympic Sports Team of the Week: Cal Men's Soccer.

Men's Soccer (10-0-2, 4-0-1)

After the thrilling OT victory down in Los Angeles over the then 6th ranked UCLA, the Bears are playing with a great sense of confidence. Freshman Stefano Bonomo was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week for netting the golden goal.

Head Coach Kevin Grimes, with Steve Birnbaum and Ryan Neil also made a TV appearance on Yahoo SportsTalk Live:

Cal 1, Stanfurd 0

Simply put, the Golden Bears got the better of Furd. That is a great result regardless of sports or situation.

The Number 1 ranked Cal Men's Soccer team successfully defended its ranking by beating Stanfurd by a score of 1-0 and for the first time since 2010. In the home leg of the Bay Area Derby, the Bears was held to no goal by Furd until late in the second half. After Furd's good chance got saved by Cal goalie Justin Taillole, the Bears immediate went on an attack. Freshman Nick Lima drew a controversial foul just inside the penalty box to give the Bears a penalty kick opportunity.

Leading goal scorer and senior captain Steve Birnbaum took the PK looking for his team leading 8th goal of the season. Birnbaum's initial kick was saved by the Furd goalie Hutchins but the rebound went right back to Birnbaum. "Birny" calmly kicked the ball into the goal to give the Bears the late lead that they were able to hold.

Game highlight (including both the controversial foul and the goal):

Interview with senior captain and match hero Steve Birnbaum:

Not surprisingly, the Bears received some more accolades for staying undefeated and beating Furd.


Teams Pts Conf Overall
CALIFORNIA 13 4-0-1 10-0-2
WASHINGTON 10 3-0-1 10-0-3
UCLA 7 2-1-1 7-3-2
STANFORD 4 1-3-1 6-4-2
SAN DIEGO STATE 4 1-3-1 4-7-1
OREGON STATE 1 0-4-1 7-6-1

The Monday night match between Washington and UCLA will be interesting in determining whether the Bears have a little bit of cushion going into the second half of the conference play or not.

Up Next:

The Bears play one final non-conference match when they host San Diego on Friday at 3:30 PM. After this, we get to the second half of conference play where each team plays every other team again but at the opposite location than the first round. For the Bears that mean a homestand with the SoCal schools and roadtrips to the Pacific Northwest and Furd.


Women's Swimming

Cal 238, Florida 210

For the London 2012 Olympic games, if you count Dana Vollmer as both a Golden Bear and a Gator (she went to Florida briefly before transferring to Cal), Florida actually ties Cal for the most swimming medals by its athletes (of course, this is not counting Missy Franklin for Cal since she had yet to make her decision back then). Bottomline, Florida is a pretty good program in swimming. This set up a great battle at Spieker Aquatics Complex this past weekend, when the Golden Bears welcomed the Gators in a dual meet of two swimming powerhouses.

Bears held a 135-108 lead after Day 1. This lead was built upon a win in 400 IM relay, 200 Free (Missy Franklin), 200 IM (sophomore Liz Pelton), 200 Fly (freshman Celina Li), 200 Back (Liz Pelton), 500 Free (Missy Franklin), and 200 Breast (Marina Garcia, a fellow freshman who is already an Olympian for Spain...yeah, this year's freshman class is that good).

Florida took the lead early in day 2, however, by winning the day's first 5 events (out of 11). Cal has never been that strong in the distance races. Missy Franklin picked up some important slack by swimming the 500 (and finished 2nd, I guess it's a different race on Sunday?) and 1000 (3rd place finish) events to get key points for the Bears.

"The long-distance events are not my specialty, but that's kind of what makes them fun," said Franklin. "There's not a lot of pressure in them. I just get to go out and race."

Bears took the lead for good with a win in 200 Fly (Celina Li) and clinched with a 1-3-4 finish in 100 Back (the specialty for Franklin, Pelton, and Rachel Bootsma).

By the way, on Wednesday, Missy Franklin was announced as the Sportswomen of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation. With this honor, Missy joined her idol Natalie Coughlin (in 2003) and soccer star Alex Morgan (in the team sports category last year) as Golden Bears who have won this award.

It's a poor choice of dress color by Missy, but I am willing to give her a pass (plenty of the Calympians also have to endure wearing red since that is one of the team color for USA).

Up Next:

Bears got a week off before hosting another dual meeting, one day against Wisconsin on Friday November 1st. The rest of the Fall/Winter schedule consists of the UNLV Invitationals and the Winter National Championships. Diving have two invitationals as well.

Women's Soccer (9-1-5, 2-1-3)

Cal 1, Colorado 1 (2 OT)

In a bit of weirdness in scheduling, Cal Women's Soccer finish their home schedule on Friday, despite 3 more weeks of regular season soccer. Consequently, the Bears celebrated an early Senior Day.

Here is the Cal senior class:


via Cal Women's Soccer Facebook page

By the way, if you look through the team's Facebook page, this squad really really love to sing. Apparent serenading the Seniors or just singing a Mariah Carey song (Always be My Baby) is a team tradition. Redshirt sophomore forward Grace Leer on the team competed in the American Idol kids edition spinoff, American Junior, back in the days.

On the pitch, the Bears had to use some super last minute magic to overcome an one goal lead.

One of the senior captain on the team, Emi Lawson was the hero for the Bears in sending this match to OT where it remained tied.

The 9/20 Bears avoided a home loss to a good Colorado team, to stay in mathematical contention of the conference title.


Teams Pts Conf Overall
UCLA 16 5-0-1 13-1-1
WASHINGTON 11 3-1-2 7-6-2
COLORADO 10 3-2-1 11-3-1
UTAH 10 3-2-1 7-3-5
CALIFORNIA 9 2-1-3 9-1-5
STANFORD 9 3-3-0 10-3-1
ARIZONA STATE 9 3-3-0 8-6-0
WASHINGTON STATE 7 2-3-1 9-3-3
OREGON STATE 7 2-3-1 4-9-2
ARIZONA 6 2-4-0 7-5-3
USC 4 1-4-1 6-7-2
OREGON 4 1-4-1 3-8-3

Up Next:

The Bears hit the road for 5 matches to close the regular season. Bears have been quite good at avoiding losses (only loss came last week to the 2nd ranked UCLA), but it would be nice if the Bears can go on a win streak. 4 of the Bears's final 5 opponents come from the current bottom 5 teams. Then there is match against Furd that is looking quite winnable this year (Furd's long unbeaten streak of 40some+ in conference play ended earlier this season). On Friday, the Bears will face off against the Oregon State Beaver. On the following Monday, the Bears will play Oregon at 7 PM on the Pac-12 Networks.


Volleyball (11-6, 4-4)

Cal 0, Washington 3

Senior outside hitter Adrienne Gehan had 16 kills and 11 digs but Cal’s volleyball team fell to No. 6 Washington 25-23, 25-21, 25-20 on Wednesday night at the Alaska Airlines Arena.

Junior opposite hitter Christina Higgins added 15 kills and three blocks while hitting for a .371 percentage. Sophomore middle blocker Lillian Schonewise had seven kills.

Bears jumped out to a good start in set 1 against the Huskies. Unfortunately, the Huskies regrouped and start to play at a very high level. Really using their serves as a big weapon, the Huskies took set 1 by an ace on their first set point opportunity. Set 2, saw more solid play by the Huskies. In Set 3, the Bears actually gave some valuable experiences to freshmen OH Janelle Jordan a setter Alyssa Jensen.

This was the lone blemish for Cal Olympic sports this past week.

Cal 3, Washington State 1

Junior opposite hitter Christina Higgins had a career-high 19 kills at a blistering .425 hitting percentage, and Cal registered a 15-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-16 victory over Washington State on Saturday night.

The Bears (11-6, 4-4 Pac-12), who played at Washington on Wednesday and then had to wait for three days in Pullman before hitting the court again, overcame a sluggish first set and an inspired comeback effort by the Cougars (15-6, 2-6) in the second set to pull out the victory.

Just like that, the Bears managed to get a split in conference play for the 4th straight week. Should the Bears be able to finish the conference play at exactly 0.500, that would be quite an achievement. Cal would probably be a top 25 ranked team if they could finish above 0.500.

One more thing, if you watch any of the Cal Volleyball matches, it is quite clear that this team is quite loose and really enjoying the moment and their teammates. The contrast was pretty obvious in the Washington match, and it was most obvious in the Stanfurd match earlier this year. As an example of the team having fun, check out them dancing post practice (Facebook link) before the Wazzu match.

Up Next:

The Bears host the Oregon Schools this week. Oregon on Friday night at 6 PM. Oregon State on Sunday at 3 PM. Both matches will be on the Pac-12 Networks.

Men's Water Polo (12-4, 1-1)

No.5 Cal 12, No.6 UCSB 9

Bears continue the trend of dominating against the lower ranked teams while suffering narrow losses to 3 of the top 4 teams (UCLA, Furd, and Pacific).

Up Next:

Cal hosts Pepperdine in a MPSF night league match on Friday, Oct 25 at 7 p.m. at Spieker Aquatics Complex.

Men's Golf

Bears won their 3rd straight tournament by closing out the MacKenzie Invitational on Tuesday.

Bears follow that up by playing in the Isleworth Collegiate starting yesterday.

Yeah, somehow the Bears are merely ranked 4th in the country.

Update from end of Sunday:

From earlier today:


Field Hockey (5-9, 2-3)

Cal 3, UC Davis 1

Snapping a 5 match losing streak, Cal Field Hockey returned to the win column by beating UC Davis on Senior Day (even though it is not the last home match...unfortunately, the final home match against Furd will take place on a Thursday). Freshman Sydney Earle got the Bears on the board with a 12th minute goal. Junior Lara Krugel followed with two more first half goals, after the Aggies knotted the match up at 1.

Up Next:

The Bears take yet another trip East, this time to Boston to play BU and Maine.

Rugby 7s

Just a reminder, the Cal Bears will resume their fall Rugby 7s schedule with the St. Mary Sevens Invitational to be played at Treasure Island this coming weekend. Depending on how things go, the Bears may have the opportunity to get revenge on UCLA for the West Coast Sevens final result last week.

Golden Bear Day

Finally, Cal Athletics hosted "Golden Bear Day" where 19 sports gave some kids in the area a bit of exposure to the various sports.

And that concludes this week's recap of Cal Olympic Sports action. Hopefully, I will have more great news to share next week here. Thanks for reading!