As the Cal fall sports wrap their seasons, the stakes do get higher each week for those still playing. The only Cal fall sports that is still active is Cal Men's Soccer. Unlike their 2nd round match which was not streamed nor televised, Cal vs. UCLA part 3 will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks this Sunday night at 7 pm PT. There can be no better way to wrap up the Thanksgiving weekend than for Cal to advance to the Elite Eight again.
GOAL ON YOU BEARS!
The other match of note is the Big Spike, today at 3pm PT on the Pac-12 Networks. Cal will look to upset No.1 Stanfurd, who just lost to UW earlier this week. Stanfurd is playing for the outright conference title (I may be wrong about this, but I think they will still claim a share should they lose and Washington beats Wazzu even if Wazzu would get the automatic bid), but the Bears can deny them that. Can the Bears somehow find some late season magic and end this tough season on a high note?
Cal Men's Soccer (defeats SIUE 1-0 to advance to NCAA "Sweet 16")
How did the Bears get to the rematch with UCLA? Bears got a late goal from senior Bobby Sekine, his 2nd goal of the season but both coming in the last couple of matches. Junior Alex Mangels recorded his 2nd career shutout in this one for the Bears to advance.
You never know who is going to step up, but the stars of this match were the two replacements for the Bears. In that UW match, Cal lost both the starting goalie in Justin Taillole and efficient freshman striker in Paul Salcedo. Their replacements in Alex Mangels and Bobby Sekine were the difference maker for the Bears.
Cal did outshot Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 18 to 11 for the match. Senior Stefano Bonomo took 7 shots.
It would be a bit war of the attrition when the Bears take on UCLA on Sunday. I don't think the Bears are expecting Salcedo nor Taillole to be back. UCLA also is missing one of their freshman star. The Bruins barely survived San Diego last week, needing a golden goal to win 2-1, after trailing 1-0 for a bit.
There is no doubt that Sunday will be another exciting match, the senior heavy Cal squad will try their hardest to not just match the Elite Eight appearance of last year, but to extend their season for as far as possible.
One of the new faces for the Bears this year is freshman center back in Joshua Morton. He did a Q&A with CalBears.com this week:
CB: Who has been the most influential person/people in your life and why?
JM: I would have to say my two brothers and my dad. After every game, they call me – because they are watching in on Pac-12 Networks – and tell me what I should do better, or what I did well. They have always been there to tell me what I need to hear to make me better. My parents are at every game and they are my number one fans.
CB: What has been your favorite memory during your time in Berkeley?
JM: Before school started, we had to be here for preseason and the dorms weren’t set up for us, so we had to live with our teammates. I was living with Nick Lima and Trevor Long. Every single night we would watch a movie and cook dinner, then play soccer the next time. We did that every day for two weeks, and it was such a fun time. I cannot cook anything. I am probably the worst cook in the world. Nick is a really good cook, so I would go buy the ingredients and he would make some great food.
CB: Who is your favorite athlete or someone you looked up to most when you were younger?
JM: This is going to sound cliché, but I look up to Christiano Ronaldo. I grew up loving Manchester United, and he was on the team at that time. I would watch every game and what he would do with the ball would amaze me. I would go in my backyard and try to do everything he did in the game I just watched. I would do that for hours. He was the model that really motivated me in soccer.
CB: If you could leave a season ticket for one celebrity to come see you play, who would it be?
JM: Jennifer Lawrence, 100 percent. I would leave a season ticket for the rest of my life for her.
There is no telling whether Jennifer Lawrence will show up on Sunday to cheer on Joshua Morton and the Bears.
Cal Women's Soccer (season over after 3-1 loss at Florida in NCAA 2nd round)
A week after some late game magic from Arielle Ship to defeat San Diego State 3-2 in double OT, the Golden Bears had to travel all the way to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators.
The Bears conceded an early penalty to Florida inside the box just few minutes in. The Gators were able to convert to go up 1-0 quickly. Florida scored a second goal to go up 2-0 by the 15 minute mark. The Bears do not quit, of course. Cal fought back hard, getting a goal by Celeste Boureille to make it 2-1 at the half.
2-1 remain the score for basically the entire game until a late goal by the Gators sealed the Bears' fate. The Gators defeated the Bears by a 3-1 final score. Florida later took care of Texas Tech and will face Stanford Cardinal in the Elite Eight tonight.
"When you go down two goals to a very good team, it is a challenge. We were surprised to be down by two goals that quickly. We didn’t anticipate being in the hole we were in so early," said California head coach Neil McGuire. "We’re very proud of our players. We knew going into it, it was a tough match. Sadly, one team has to go home."
Bears finish the year with a nice record of 14-6-2 on the year.
Last but certainly not least, the Cal Women's Soccer team has again won the NSCAA Team Academic Award. The team has a GPA of 3.24, which Cal fans knows is not trivial to get unlike at a certain "Junior University" not too far away.
@CalWomensSoccer Congrats to our Women's soccer student-athletes who have again been awarded the NSCAA Team academic award. Beyond proud.— Neil McGuire (@NeilMcGuire) November 24, 2014
Cal Men's Water Polo (5th place finish at MPSF tournament ends season)
For the 2nd consecutive year, the Bears finished 5th in the final ranking behind the familiar USC, UCLA, Stanford, and this year Long Beach State (after Pacific joined the top 4 last year). Unlike last season, when the Bears did not beat any of the top 4 teams ahead of them while crushing everyone else, the 2014 squad did record wins over USC, Stanford, and Long Beach State on the year.
Needing a top 2 or 3 finish to make the recently expanded (but still very small field) NCAA tournament, the Bears' hopes were dashed when they lost the opening match 9-6 to the host Long Beach State, for what was at the time the 4th consecutive loss.
Similar to the recent losses to Stanford and USC, the Bears just faltered late after being right in it for the most of the match. Bears took a lead with 5+ minutes left in the 3rd quarter but did not score once since.
Bears did end the year on a good note by easily dispatching UCSB and Pepperdine for the 5th place in the tournament, but this was a rough end to finish the year for sure.
Final: Cal-14, Pepperdine-7. Bears take 5th place at MPSF. Thank you once again to our Seniors #GoBears— Cal Water Polo (@CalWaterPolo) November 23, 2014
A lot of goals and our starting goalie will be gone next year, but obviously the team is always reloaded with a bunch of talent. I certainly would be interested to hear what other Cal fans have to say about our outlook for next year.
Cal Cross Country (both Men and Women got an All-American at the NCAA's)
I always joke about how both Men's and Women's Cross Country is like the forgotten sports for me, given all the other fall action. My recent viewing of the Pac-12 Sports Report on the Pac-12 Networks taught me that the overall men's winner is an Oregon Duck (a sophomore who has won for the past two years) and the team winner is again the Colorado Buffs. So more national titles for the Conference of Champion.
For the Bears, this has been a special year as well. Here is the good news.
Redshirt junior Chris Walden and freshman Bethan Knights earn garnered All-American honors at the NCAA Cross Country Championships Saturday afternoon at the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, Ind. Walden became the second-highest finisher in school history on the men’s side with a 17th-place finish in the men’s race. Knights became Cal’s highest finishing freshman in the program’s history, placing 25th in the NCAA Championships.
"We’re so pleased that both the Cal men and women were represented at the NCAA Championships today and placed high enough for All-American honors," said California Director of Track & Field and Head Cross Country Coach, Tony Sandoval.
After Kelsey Santisteban finishing 10th overall last year, the Bears have added two more All-Americans this year. It would be interesting to see how much better freshman Bethan Knights can improve in her career and whether this duo, both of whom will be back next year, can lift the Bears to new heights.
Several cool Cal swimming videos were posted in these past couple of weeks.
Experience a day in the life of a Cal swimmer (those laps around the pool don't look so hard when it is swum by someone else). More cool stuff from Cal freshman Maija Roses.
We have already discussed how good the incoming Cal men's swimmers are (in addition to 4 of the top 5 women also coming to Cal), but here is now a video of head coach Dave Durden talking about the newest Golden Bears: Nick Norman, David Puczkowski, Carson Sand, Andrew Seliskar, Ken Takahashi and Michael Thomas.
Even more from swimming, we have shown you pictures of the Cal Men's Swimming National Championships ring, but here is a video from the Ring Ceremony. Dave Durden explains why the (Buddhist) phrase "Chop Wood, Carry Water" is inscribed on the ring...apparently it does NOT have to do with cutting down the Stanfurd tree. It's a very cool video.
The Bears were well represented in NYC on Monday for the annual Golden Goggle (somewhat surprising that it is not plural here).
This also meant that Missy Franklin got to make a Today Show appearance with Stanford commit in Katie Ledecky. There is no official word that Missy had lost a bet to Katie due to the Big Game, but Franklin had to sport a red sweater on national TV.
Despite having several nominees for newcomer (Ryan Murphy, Cierra Runge, and recent commit in Katie McLoughlin), swimmer of the year (Missy Franklin), and coach (Dave Durden), the Bears were shutout of individual awards.
Missy Franklin did earn a part of the relay of the year award:
Bears were also well represented in the actual ceremony:
Cal Volleyball (earns 2nd conference win on the year on Wednesday night)
It's been a tough year for the Cal Volleyball team. I have admittedly watch less of this year's matches than in seasons past. One match that I will keep a close eye on is the season finale this afternoon: the home leg of the Big Spike against No.1 Stanfurd.
Bears actually got a bit of momentum heading into this one after a 3 set win over Washington State on Wednesday night at Pullman.
Bears actually only travelled to Pullman without their two starting freshmen outside hitter in Ashten Smith-Gooden (injury) and Christian Alftin (sickness). The previous injured redshirt sophomore Nikki Gombar actually had to leave the match twice with injuries herself. Despite all this, the Bears were triumphant in the only match against Wazzu.
By beating Wazzu, in addition to the previous win against USC, the Bears actually have leapfrogged Wazzu for the last spot in the Pac-12 standings.
pac-12 volleyball STANDINGS
Bears can end the year in a really high note, despite the trying season, if they are able to defy all odds and beat our rival Stanfurd in the Big Spike today. It will be Senior Day as the Bears honor opposite Christina Higgins and defense specialist in Marlee Davis.
People have been asking why this year's team took such a big step back, I think the struggle has quite a bit to do with the Bears' lack of a highly efficient full rotation outside hitter to lean on (think Adrienne Gehan from last year). Due to injuries, Lara Vukasovic hasn't played up to her potential (she also has switched to play as a middle blocker). The Bears' best players are Higgins and junior Lillian Schonewise where there is that one time every so often when both are not on the floor. Given the tough Pac-12 opponents, conceding 3-5 points to get out of that one lineup has doomed the Bears in several matches.
With the talent that are already here and more that is coming in, here is to hope that the Bears can find that go to hitter for next year. Several solid complementary pieces are already on this team.
Cal Field Hockey
With the season coming to an end a couple of weeks ago, Ryan Gorcey has an update on the Field Hockey's field situation, etc. after a post-season chat with head coach Shellie Onstead.
Cal started off hot, going 5-2 and narrowly losing to No. 8 Stanford, 2-1, on Sept. 21. Still, Onstead saw signs that the re-jiggered class schedules – a necessity after she found out, after Telebears had closed, that the team would have to travel to Palo Alto to train up to three times a week, instead of one, thanks to the lack of an on-campus practice facility – and the constant travel were beginning to wear on her team, and, she says, her donors.
Program supporters turned off by the University’s handling of the Bears’ no-home-facility situation, and, more acutely, the lack of concrete plans for a facility until the threat of a Title IX lawsuit in October, have sewn up their pocketbooks, out of spite for the University because, Onstead says, they’re not confident it will be used properly. Donations, Onstead says, have "gone to zero."
"The alumni been great; they’re writing letters and they’re upset, but all kinds of things have been affected by this: All kinds of relationships are going to have to be rebuilt," says Onstead. "It’s my program, so it’s up to me to foster the group, but the University could have started that process by showing faith and doing the right thing. I’ve got to get them back on-board. I’d love to be able to share good news with them."
The likely outcome for the field situation is apparent Underhill, with the University all the sudden finding water underneath to make it work.
"The working out piece was an initial meeting, and at the sit-down, they said, ‘here are our proposed solutions,’" says Onstead. "One of them was a long-term solution at Underhill, which we kind of knew was coming. The other was a short-term solution: What are we going to do in the spring?"
Underhill sounded reasonable. The issues with the proposed facility – no water for a proper field hockey turf (which was bid on before the powers that be informed Onstead that the cost to pipe water to the facility would be an additional $600,000) and improper length – could be fixed.
"They figured that they could extend out to the sidewalk, take away the pavers in the plaza, and, unbelievably," says an incredulous Onstead, "they discovered a water source underneath the parking garage. Go figure."
Onstead was still cautious.
"I said, ‘Alright, are these things really going to come true?’ They’ll put in seating and a press box, and it will actually be a stadium, which we train in, instead of a practice facility that we play games in," says Onstead. "OK. That sounded good, in theory. I’ve been promised a lot of things, though, so I’m very skeptical."
It is an interesting read, and it will be very interesting to see how much of what has been promised this time to the Field Hockey program will come true. It really is a shame that it took a lawsuit for the University to pay attention.
Coming up in a couple of weeks when there is no longer any game action, I will have a season wrap-up of each fall sports, with the most memorable moments, MVP, etc. Feel free to nominate your choices for each of the Cal Olympic sports in the comments below.