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Golden Medals: Fall Olympic Sports Season Recaps

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For the first time in what may be forever, all Cal fall sports (including football) are done before the Calendar changes to December. Let's take one final look at the top players and moments in each sport.

What's the top moment from Cal Olympic Sports this fall? Be sure to vote in our poll below.
What's the top moment from Cal Olympic Sports this fall? Be sure to vote in our poll below.
Cal Women's Soccer Facebook

Before we get to our season recaps for all the Cal fall sports, let's take a quick look at the exciting swimming action this week.

Cal Swimming and Diving

FINA Short Course World Championship, taking place in Doha, has some familiar and soon-to-be familiar faces for Cal swimming fans. In addition to former Golden Bears legends in Natalie Coughlin, Caitlin Leverenz, and Madison Kennedy. Three incoming Golden Bears in Abbey Weitzeil, Kathleen Baker, and Amy Bilquist are also a part of Team USA.

In Greensboro, North Carolina, other Golden Bears, including Nathan Adrian are competing in the 2014 AT&T Winter Nationals. The AT&T Winter Nationals action are stream for free online here.

One Cal swim great, and very recent Cal athletics Hall of Fame inductee, who is taking some time off is Anthony Ervin. Ervin is working on a book, titled: Chasing the Water Dragon.

As for the current Golden Bears, both the men and the women are heading down to Athens, Georgia in the Georgia Invitational where they will compete against host Georgia, Auburn, Virginia, Penn State, UCLA, Florida State, Harvard, and Virginia Tech.

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Sadly, the 2014 Fall season closed for Cal Athletics without a national title. To be fair, Cal fans are much more practical with our expectations on our teams since we are not the jaded UCLA fans nor the non-existent Stanford fans. Not including Rugby 7s (since they don't play for a national title during the fall), there were 8 sports total that were in action during the fall: Football, Men's Soccer, Women's Soccer, Volleyball, Field Hockey, Men's Water Polo, Men's Cross Country, Women's Cross Country.

Of course, there have been plenty of Football coverage on our site elsewhere. Let's look at each of these 7 sports, the most memorable moment, MVP, and best newcomers. We will also look at the past 3 season to get a general sense of how the program may be trending.

Be sure to vote in the poll about the top moment from the Fall of 2014.

Cal Men's Soccer

Season in Summary:

Despite a brand new backline (last year's duo of Steve Birnbaum and Christian Dean are both in MLS now), this senior laden team, which led the country in goals per game (#drop3 goals!) for the bulk of the year, was again playing at a national title contending level on a very tough Pac-12 conference.

Final record:

11-7-1, 15th overall seed in the NCAA tournament

Conference record (place):

4-5-1, 4th out of 6 teams

5 of 6 schools from the Pac-12 made the NCAA tournament

NCAA Tournament:

Yes, knocked out in Sweet 16 by 2nd seed UCLA, 3-2 loss (link to our gamethread with all the goals embedded)

Best Moments:

I'm going to cheat here for a little bit and combine and highlight both of the regular season wins over UCLA.

First in Berkeley: Christian Tierjung with the Golden Goal for a 3-2 OT Cal victory over UCLA.

Then down at Westwood:

Justin Taillole earned a shutout while Connor Hallisey took advantage of a Bruins mistake to give the Bears a big 1-0 win over then No.1 Bruins. At that time, the win meant that the Bears controlled their own destiny for a conference title.

MVP:

Connor Hallisey, the senior midfielder lead the Bears in scoring with 9 goals and 12 assists (for 30 points). He is tied with Tierjung for game winners with 3 on the year.

Honorable mention:

Stefano Bonomo, the senior striker lead the Bears in goals with 12 to go with 5 assists (29 points). He was also the finisher of many brilliant Connor Hallisey passes, such as this last goal of the season.

Best Newcomer:

Freshmen Paul Salcedo (4 goals with 4 assists) before he got hurt and Jose Carrera-Garcia (2 goals with 5 assists) were both difference maker in the soccer version of Bear Raid, but the brand new defensive line duo of transfer Trevor Haberkorn (from Furman) and freshman Joshua Morton really improved over the course of the year. They are on their way to join current MLS DB in Birnbaum, Dean, and A.J. Soares (whose New England Revolution is taking on LA Galaxy in the 2014 MLS final).

Last 3 years:

2014: 11-7-1, NCAA sweet 16

2013: 14-5-2, NCAA elite 8

2012: 8-7-3, no NCAA berth

Personal note:

This was the first season where I got to see a Cal Men's Soccer game in person in the state of California (the Stanford match down at The Farm). Somewhat interestingly, men's soccer has been the one squad that I have seen the most while living on the East Coast since they have played at Maryland at least 3 times while I was a graduate student. For the 2014 season, I will remember how great Cal goalie Justin Taillole was in this Stanford match, making a career high 12 saves (out of 35 total shots taken by 'Furd) for a hard-fought 1-1 draw (defying our history of often losing on a late heartbreaker to Stanford, like in this year's regular season finale) against the eventual Pac-12 conference winner.

Cal Women's Soccer

Season in Summary:

Earning the chance to host a home game for the first time since 2000, Golden Bears again had a fine season where many many players contributed. Overcoming an early season ending injury to star player Ifeoma Onumanu, Bears had a respectable finish in a very deep Pac-12 conference this year.

Final record:

14-6-2

Conference record (place):

5-4-2 (in a 5th place tie with Washington and Washington State)

NCAA Tournament: Yes, knocked out in 2nd round (32 teams) by regional 2nd seed Florida, 3-1 loss

Best Moment:

Winner of our best moment from last fall was Cal Women's Soccer's breakthrough golden goal against Stanfurd, scored by Rachel Mercik. Did Cal Women's Soccer earn another top moment this year?

Arielle Ship's double OT Golden Goal in NCAA 1st round against San Diego State for a 3-2 Cal victory is a very strong contender, given how it also took place in Berkeley in the first Cal home NCAA game since 2000.

MVP:

Taylor Comeau really raised her game this offseason to become the leading playmaker for the Bears in 2014. With 8 goals (team high) and 7 assists (2nd on the team) for 23 points, the senior Comeau was the one constant all year for a balanced Cal attack.

Honorable Mention:

Celeste Boureille was a force at the end of the year, nearly singlehandedly giving the Bears an upset win over Stanford and brought the Bears to within a goal against Florida. Boureille finished the year with 6 goals and 5 assists (17 points, 2nd on the team).

Best Newcomer:

Emily Boyd - Bears played a lot of freshmen this year (redshirt freshman Kelly Fitzgerald gets a mention for her 6 goals all scored very early on the year), but the one that jumped out has to be our new goalkeeper who easily squashed any preseason concern that I had about replacing the graduated Emily Kruger. Boyd was very solid all year long, and I would not be surprised if she gets even better over her Cal career.

Last 3 years:

2014: 14-6-2, NCAA 2nd round

2013: 11-5-5, NCAA 1st round

2012: 16-6-0, NCAA 2nd round

Personal Note:

I went to the season opening win over USF. While the match was scoreless in the first half, the Bears opened the scoring up in the 2nd half. I got to witness goals like this one with the Cal Men's Water Polo and Women's Gymnastics teams (and a couple of young kids) in those bleacher seats right by the goal. That was fun.


Cal Men's Water Polo

Season in Summary:

Back-to-back 5th place finishes are a disappointment for this Cal program. Golden Bears were able to breakthrough with wins against USC and Stanford, but not in the regularly scheduled matches (lost the Big Splash again).

Final record:

22-7

NCAA Tournament:

No, season effectively ended in the opening round of the MPSF tournament when the Bears lost to host Long Beach State by a 9-6 result

Best Moment:

In the NorCal classic, the Bears beat 6-time defending champs USC by a 11-10 margin in the 3rd place match.

MVP:

Aleksa Saponjic - The Serbian "Calympian" senior was the top leading goalscorer for the Bears with 67.

Best Newcomer:

Luca Cupido - the 3rd leading goal scorer for the Bears earned the MPSF Newcomer of the Year award.

Cupido, from Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy and Newport Harbor Hight School, is the MPSF leader in scoring average amongst all first-year players. He scored 42 goals in 2014, for an average of 1.75 goals per game, which also ranks 14th overall in the conference.

Last 3 years:

2014: 22-7, 5th in the country

2013: 18-8, 5th in the country

2012: 17-8, no NCAA tournament (before field was slightly expanded)

Personal Note:

I only got to watch the Stanford and USC regular season losses via the Pac-12 Networks. I was really impressed with the effort by Cal goalie Jon Sibley, but the Bears faltered in the 2nd half of both matches.

Cal Volleyball

Season in Summary:

With a record high 10 teams from the Pac-12 making the NCAA tournament this year, a young despite deep Golden Bears squad saw their long NCAA appearance streak comes to an end, finishing 11th in the conference with just 2 conference wins.

Final record:

10-20

Conference record (place):

2-18, 11th out of 12 (ahead of Washington State); Bears were picked to finish in a tie for 5th in the preseason poll

NCAA Tournament: no

Best Moment:

In a 5 set thriller, the Bears came from behind in the 5th set to defeat then No.21 USC down in LA. This was the first road win in over 10 years for the Bears over the Trojans.

MVP:

Christina Higgins was very solid as the starting opposite for the Bears all year. The senior finished her Cal career with a spot in the top 10 list for kills with 1291, good for 9th currently.

A photo posted by CalVolleyball (@calvolleyball) on

Honorable Mention:

Junior middle blocker, Lillian Schonewise, was also very good for the Bears, finishing the year with 323 kills to go with 106 blocks.

Sadly for the Bears, the main problem this year were the rotations when neither Higgins nor Schonewise are on the court.

Best Newcomer:

Not exactly a newcomer, but sophomore sophomore Alyssa Jensen was handed the key to the offense and did a decent job despite not having a go-to outside hitter who plays every rotation. She still got plenty of room for growth as a setter, however.

Last 3 years:

2014: 10-20, no NCAA berth

2013: 18-13, NCAA 2nd round

2012: 15-16, NCAA 1st round

Personal Note:

I got to see the Bears in the open scrimmage at the beginning of the year (I made it a point this year to stop by as many Cal events as possible on my few trips west). I did not foresee how badly this year would turn out. I end up not watching as many volleyball broadcasts this season, but given the type of talent that Coach Rich Feller is able to consistently bring to Berkeley, I would not expect the Bears to be down for too long.

Cal Field Hockey

Season in Summary:

Nomadic due to lack of a home to play or even practice, Golden Bears had a respectable season under the circumstance. This year will probably be remembered for the Title IX lawsuit against the University by a trio of players (and family) that was needed to get the school to address their lack of field issue.

Final record:

8-11

Conference record (place):

4th place finish at NorPac tournament

NCAA Tournament: No

Best Moment:

In 7 matches against ranked opponents, the Bears lost all 7. If there is such as thing as moral victory, it may be Cal's 2-1 loss to No.8 Stanfurd.

Nevertheless, the team actually did a very good job despite constantly being on the road and experiencing things like bus problems when they only had to go to Stockton.

MVP:

Lara Kruggel - the senior has 12 goals on the year, the next closest on the team was 5

Best Newcomer:

Not sure. Bulk of the Bears' contributors were upperclassman (seniors to be exact). Given the facility issue, I am not sure how recruiting is looking for the immediate future.

Last 3 years:

2014: 8-11

2013: 7-12

2012: 8-12

Cal Men's Cross Country

NCAA Tournament:

Redshirt junior Chris Walden qualified

Best Moment:

Walden finished 17th with a time of 30:40.3. This was the 3rd highest Cal finish in program history.

MVP:

Chris Walden

Last 3 years:

No other NCAA top 40 finisher in the last 3 years prior to Walden

Cal Women's Cross Country

NCAA Tournament:

Freshman Bethan Knights qualified

(Sorry for the not most flattering picture)

Best Moment:

Bethan Knight finished 25th with a time of 20:30.0. That was the 3rd best time posted by a freshman at the meet.

MVP:

Bethan Knight

Best Newcomer:

Bethan Knight

Last 3 years:

2014: Bethan Knight with a 25th place finish at the NCAA

2013: Kelsey Santisteban with a 10th place finish at the NCAA

GO BEARS!