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Cal Olympic Sports Recap: Men's Soccer to 3rd round, Women's Swim dominates at UNLV

Cal Men's Soccer advanced to the NCAA 3rd round behind a 3-1 win over Bradley. The Bears will host Coastal Carolina on Sunday. Cal Women's Swimming was dominant at the UNLV Fall Invitational. Men's Water Polo lost the Big Splash despite a great 1st half. Volleyball, playing without senior star Adrienne Gehan, lost two 5 setters to the Washington schools. GO BEARS!

No.1 Cal Women's Swimming had a great showing at the UNLV Fall Invitational
No.1 Cal Women's Swimming had a great showing at the UNLV Fall Invitational
Cal Women's Swimming Facebook

The Cal Football season may be over, but plenty of Cal fall sports are still going strong (and about to get even more interesting). The top news of the week is the triumph of the Cal Men's Soccer team on Sunday, but we also got some more Cal swimming news (just pure dominance) as well as some disappointments in the water polo pool and on the volleyball court.

Cal Men's Soccer has advanced to the 3rd Round, will host Coastal Carolina on Sunday, December 1st at 1:30 PM PT.

With leading goal scorer and captain Steve "Birny" Birnbaum back in action after missing the last two matches (@Washington and @Stanfurd), the Golden Bears (13-4-2, 6-3-1 Pac-12) was dominant in beating the Bradley Braves on Sunday afternoon at Edwards Stadium. In the span of less than two minutes, the Bears scored two goals (Alec Sundley and then Steve Birnbaum with his team high 10th goal of the season) in the 35th minute and never looked back. Bradley did manage to cut the lead down to 1 goal, but the Bears tag on another goal (Sundley again) to finish this match 3-1. Alex Mangels manned the net for the Bears.

For his two goals and an assist, senior Alec Sundley was named College Soccer News' Play of the Week. Sundley has now scored in three consecutive matches and will look to extend that streak against Coastal Carolina (19-4, 9-1 in the Big South) on Sunday. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers defeated the 13th seed Charlotte by a 1-0 margin. Ranking-wise, Coastal Carolina is actually ranked 11th in the country, while the Bears have fallen to be 6th after a late slide (without captain Steve Birnbaum, whose defensive presence may be even more important than all the goals that he has scored).

Valued contributor CalBears81 actually shot some videos at the match, she was able to capture one of Cal's goal:

Here is Cal's 3rd goal, scored by Alec Sundley:


No.1 Cal Women's Swimming won 17 of 18 finals in the UNLV Fall Invitational

In three days of competition, the No.1 ranked Cal women's swimming had a great meet at the UNLV Fall Invitational. Bear won the title with 1278 points. Runner up Arizona State was a distant 2nd at 429.5. UCLA was 3rd at 394, follow by host UNLV at 388.5.

It is perhaps easier to say which race the Bears did not win. That was the marathon swim of 1650 yard free. Catherine Breed was the sole Cal qualifier and merely finished 2nd.

Here are the list of events and the winners:

500 Free - Liz Pelton

200 IM - Missy Franklin

50 Free - Missy Franklin

400 Medley Relay - Liz Pelton, Maria Garcia, Celina Li, and Missy Franklin

200 Medley Relay - Rachel Bootsma, Maria Garcia, Cindy Tran, and Kaylin Bing

400 IM - Liz Pelton

100 Fly - Sophia Batchelor

200 Free - Caroline Piehl

100 Breast - Maria Garcia

100 Back - Cindy Tran

800 Free Relay - Liz Pelton, Rachel Acker, Catherine Breed, and Melanie Klaren

200 Back - Missy Franklin

100 Free - Liz Pelton

200 Breast - Maria Garcia

200 Fly - Celina Li

400 Free Relay - Alicia Grima, Caroline Piehl, Cindy Tran, and Missy Franklin

What is most impressive out of this list is that Missy Franklin, Sophia Batchelor, Celina Li, Maria Garcia are all just freshman. Liz Pelton, Rachel Acker, Rachel Bootsma, and Alicia Grima are just sophomores.

Sophomore Rachel Acker is recently featured in Cal Athletics' Olympic Sports athlete profile:

On the diving side, junior Kahley Rowell (the only Cal diver to score points at the NCAA Championship in a long time) placed 3rd in 10-meter Plateform at the diving meet hosted by University of Texas, also this past weekend.

By the way, the relay swim of Missy Franklin with Cal alum Natalie Coughlin in the USA's 4x100 Free relay at the World Championships won the Golden Goggle this past weekend for the Relay Performance of the Year. From the Golden Goggle award ceremony we get the following gem:

The focus of the fall swim season for Cal, however, is coming up in the US National Winters Championship in two weeks, taking place at Knoxville, Tennessee.


Cal Men's Water Polo can't hold on to 1st half lead, edged by 'Furd 11-10 in the Big Splash

With the new NCAA tournament format for Men's Water Polo this year that allows two at-large bids in the 6 team tournament (I wasn't aware of this change until the Big Splash this past weekend), the 5th ranked Bears (who probably would need to win the MPSF tournament this weekend to secure the automatic bid anyhow) could have use a big win over the 3rd ranked 'Furd in the Big Splash (there was also this thing with pride and retaining the Steve Heaston trophy for the 3rd straight year).

The Bears (16-7, 4-4 in MPSF) started the Big Splash in good shape, containing 'Furd's leading score in Bret Bonanni, to lead 3-0 after the 1st quarter. 'Furd finally got on board in the 2nd quarter and managed to score a late goal to cut the lead to 2 at the half. Sadly, 3rd quarter was all 'Furd's as they dominated with 4-0 margin. Bears' dependence on scoring on the break was foiled by 'Furd being able to score and set up their defense. Of course, the Bears would not quit and despite facing a large deficit in the 4th, senior Hunter Gettelfinger drew two penalties that were converted by the Bears to cut the lead to just 1. Bears could not get that equalizer however and 'Furd sealed the match with a huge insurance goal in the last minute. One final penalty conversion before time expires by senior Collin Smith was not enough.

Bears will next play in the very import MPSF Tournament, being hosted by Pacific this year. Bears with the 5th seed will face 5-time defending champs 4th ranked/seed USC in the opening quarterfinal run. Bears would need to run the gauntlet and beat 3 of the top 4 teams (which the Bears' record this year has been a combined 0-7 against) to book a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Shorted handed Cal Volleyball came very close but could not give Coach Rich Feller his 600th career win

The positive take away from Cal's weekend defeats is that the youngsters played some inspirational volleyball. With Adrienne Gehan out due to an abdominal strain suffered during the Oregon State match (and worsen by her ineffective Oregon match), the Bears had to rely heavily on Christina Higgins and Michelle Neumayr (both set career high this weekend). The extra experience and confidence would likely serve the Bears well in the upcoming NCAA tournament. Against the 3rd ranked Washington Huskies who desperately needed a win against the Bears to stay in front of 'Furd, the Bears played just well enough in sets 2 and 4 to push the match to a deciding 5th set. Bears actually had a few match points in the 5th set, but a questionable "net violation" call on what had appeared to be a match point won by the Bears and some solid Husky blockings turned the table late and the Bears fell 17-15 in that 5th set.

In that deciding 5th set, Lara Vukasovic who had moved back to the outside and was effective appear to have hurt herself. Vukasovic sat out the Wazzu match on Sunday, causing the Bears to be down two key starters in Gehan and Vukasovic. Solid play by her replacement in freshman Janelle Jordan as well as junior Lindsey Parrott allowed the Bears to take the first two sets on Senior Day. Cal senior setter Joan Caloairo also had an inspirational outing, recording many key kills herself instead of setting. In a frustrating manner, the Bears lost a couple close sets to the surging Wazzu Cougars. With all the momentum, Wazzu was able to win the 5th set and deny the 600th win of coach Rich Feller's career.

(whoever is tweeting with the Cal Volleyball twitter account needs a better camera phone)

Up next, the Bears hit the road for the final two regular season matches of the season. On Wednesday, the Bears will play at Arizona State. On Friday, the second part of the Big Spike will take place down at 'Furd.