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Golden Medals: Fall Previews of Cal Men's Water Polo, Field Hockey, and Cross Country

Part 2 of the CGB fall Olympics sport previews is here. What are the expectations for Cal men's water polo, field hockey, and cross country in 2015?

Lucas Cupido (pictured in his Team USA Pan Am game uniform) will star for Cal Men's Water Polo this year as a sophomore.
Lucas Cupido (pictured in his Team USA Pan Am game uniform) will star for Cal Men's Water Polo this year as a sophomore.
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

First thing first, the 2015-16 Cal Athletics season officially kick-off today, from the Aloha State, when the 18th ranked Cal Women's Soccer take on the 19th ranked BYU Cougars.

Unfortunately, since the match is taking place in Berkeley (or another Pac-12 school site), it will not be televised nor streamed online.

Here is the full schedule for the upcoming week:

Fri,
Aug 21
W Soccer Brigham Young at Honolulu, HI 7:30 p.m. Live Stats
Sun,
Aug 23
W Soccer Hawai'i at Honolulu, HI 8:00 p.m. Live Stats
Tue,
Aug 25
W Soccer Beijing Normal University Berkeley, CA 5:00 p.m.

Women's Soccer is the only squad in action and they will take on host Hawaii on Sunday before returning to Berkeley to face Beijing Normal University in a home opening match that will be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks.

GOAL ON YOU BEARS!

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After the previews for Cal Volleyball, Men's Soccer, and Women's Soccer last week (check it out here), today we will cover my thoughts and expectations for the rest of the Cal fall Olympics sports.

Cal Men's Water Polo

Twitter: @CalWaterPolo

2014: 22-7 (the camp article, see link in embedded Tweet below, has a typo in saying the Bears are coming off a 18-8 season)

Ranked 5th for the bulk of the season (once conference play has started), the Cal Men's Water Polo team was able to beat USC 11-10 early on in the NorCal Classic 3rd place match. More importantly, the Bears have shown to have narrowed the gap between them and the Stanford, UCLA, and USC as the two USC losses were by one goal and the Big Splash loss to Stanford was merely by 2.

Key Departures:

Calympian (Bronze with the Serbian national team at the 2012 London games) Aleksa Saponjic has graduated. So has the starting goalkeeper in Jon Sibley, who improved every year and was very solid in his senior year campaign. Matt Russell and Blake Kelly were also key contributors who have graduated.

Preseason Rankings:

N/A

Outlook:

The Cal Men's Water Polo stats are not well maintained, but last year the Bears saw freshmen Luca Cupido emerged as a force in winning the MPSF Newcomer of the Year award. Cupido also played with the US National team at the Pan Am game. He joins the long tradition of Cal Men's Water Polo players who will likely be a mainstay on the US (or other country's) national team for years to come.

Bears actually have just a few upperclassmen on the squad: Colin Mulcahy and Thomas Agramonte are the only seniors while Peter O'Laughlin will graduate as well. With a young (but always talented) squad, the team may have its ups and downs early. I don't know if the Bears are back at the top level to beat UCLA, who just dethroned 6 time champ in USC, last year, but I think the Bears being 5th best behind Pacific two years ago and Long Beach State last year was merely a short-term fluke. It's time for Cal to be back in the top 4 in Men's Water Polo world.

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Cal Field Hockey

Twitter: @CalFieldHockey (run by head coach Shellie Onstead, so a bit lacking in live in game updates since she's busy coaching)

2014: 8-11

Cal Field Hockey are coming off a weird year where they had no home and had to travel down to Stanford twice a week to practice. The field situation is possibly resolved (Bears are taking over Underhill) and the Bears will host 3 home matches, so new Cal Field Hockey fans can learn to appreciate this game without having to venture outside the campus.

Key Departures:

German scoring force Lara Kruggel (team high by a huge margin of 12 goals) has graduated. 2nd leading scorer Andrea Earle (5 goals) has also graduated. Starting goalkeeper Courtney Hendrickson is also gone.

Preseason Rankings:

Not Ranked. Bears are picked to finish in a 3 way tie for 2nd place with UC Davis and Pacific behind Stanford.

Outlook:

Bears are in a new conference, American East, but other than a different destination for the conference tournament at the end of the season and few other teams to play against then, the Bears are still in the same small local group of west coast Field Hockey against Stanford, UC Davis, and Pacific. While the field situation is being resolved, the lack of practice space may still be an issue for the squad in 2015.

Losing your top scorer and starting goalie have all signs point to 2015 as a rebuilding year. 1st Team All Nor-Pac returnee Clara Goni is the leading returning scorer with 3 goals and 3 assists. Plenty of opportunities for youngsters to step up.

The team are currently training down in San Diego, at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, but will open their season at Stanford against Duke next weekend.

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Cal Cross Country

Twitter: @Cal_Track (yep, one convenient Twitter account for both sexes of Cal Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track and Field)

2014:

2014 was an year to remember as the Bears placed both a men and a women in the NCAA Championships. Chris Walden finished 17th in the country. Bethan Knights finished 25th.

Key Departures:

Both Walden and Knights are back.

Preseason Rankings:

Not available

Outlook:

Cross country is a sport that I have traditionally overlook in my past three years of writing at CGB. I'll try to keep a closer look on it. Since Walden and Knights are both back, barring injuries, I would think both have a good shot of returning to the NCAA's and place even higher.

GO BEARS!