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Golden Medals: Pac-12/MPSF championships for Golf, Beach Vball, Lacrosse, Tennis, & W. Water Polo

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Also recaps of Cal Rugby semifinal wins, Crew’s triumph at UW, and Cal Men’s Gym at NCAA.

A NCAA berth is on the line for Cal Women’s Water Polo in their match against ASU today in the MPSF Tournament opening round.
Cal Women’s Water Polo Facebook

As the school year and the spring semester winds down, we are getting to the end of the season for various Cal sports. Some sports (Tennis and Golf, for example) will use the conference championship as a tune up for the NCAA. Other sports (such as Women’s Water Polo) will use it to secure a spot in the NCAA. Then, there is Cal Lacrosse, who celebrated a return to the MPSF tournament for the first time in 4 years (1st time under head coach Brooke Eubanks).


ICYMI - Last Weekend was pretty good for Cal Bears

Cal Rugby advanced to Varsity Cup Championship (May 6th, noon PT from Santa Clara University)

Want to see a Cal Athletics play for the national championship in person? Go out to Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara University next Saturday. By the way, the Golden Bears are heavy favorites to repeat as the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup national champions.

Last week, the Bears had few issues in dispatching the visiting Penn State Nittany Lions by a 35-14 final in the Varsity Cup semifinals. Bears had a 20-0 lead at the half, and Penn State got as close as a 13 point deficit in this one. Freshmen Damon Wiley and Keanu Andrade each scored two tries. Kevin Sullivan, Jake Goena, and 5th year senior Patrick Barrientes also scored a try, apiece. Golden Bears will be participating in their 5th consecutive Varsity Cup Final; the 1st Varsity Cup final took place in 2013 - Cal has been in every final.

On the other side of the bracket, Arkansas State defeated Navy 25-7. Navy had previously knocked out the 2nd seed of the Varsity Cup tournament in Central Washington. This will be the first year that the championship final will not be a Cal-BYU matchup. BYU has quit the Varsity Cup national championship this year after being forced to vacate their 2015 Varsity Cup title.

Both Cal men’s and women’s varsity 8 boats bested rival UW

ROW ON YOU BEARS! Both Cal men’s and women’s crew traveled up to Seattle for dual races against their primary west coast rival in University of Washington. In the main races for both events - the Varsity 8, the Golden Bears prevailed.

The men retained the Schoch Cup for the 3rd consecutive year. Before the Golden Bears broke their streak to win the IRA National Championship last year, Washington has won the IRA National Title for the previous 5 years.

In other races, UW won a close 2V8 and 3V8 races; Cal’s freshmen 8 won their dual over the Huskies. On the same afternoon, the Cal men swept all 4 races against the Oregon State Beavers.

For the Cal women, the Varsity 8 retains the Simpson Cup with a pretty dominant victory.

Bears won the 3V8 race but lost the 2V8 and V4 against the Huskies. In the NCAA Championships, coming up in Memorial Day weekend from Princeton (where I will unfortunately be out of town for the main event), the national title total score is calculated from the results of the V8, 2V8, and V4 races only.

Coming up this weekend is the 84th annual Big Row (okay, Stanford are a big rowing rival for the Bears too) - the last race before the Pac-12 Championships and the national championships after that. This race will be streamed online via the team Facebook Page (Facebook.com/theFOCC).

Cal Men’s Gymnastics finished season at NCAA Championships

From West Point, New York, the Golden Bears finished last in the session II with a team score of 400.250 (a whooping 30.35 behind conference rival and eventual repeat champion in Oklahoma). Nevertheless, three Golden Bears advanced as individuals to the NCAA Championships final on Saturday.

Michael Rauchwerger competed on both floor and vault to score 12.450 and 13.650, respectively. Yordan Aleksandrov scored 13.750 on the high bar, just behind 13.850 by Aaron Mah who competed as an all around. The sophomore Mah finished 16th overall.

With head coach Brett McClure departing for a job with USA Gymnastics, it will be interesting to see how fast the program finds a new head coach. Despite perennial trips to the NCAA Championships (partly due to there being fewer men’s gymnastics teams), there is a significant gap between the Golden Bears and national title contenders in Oklahoma and Stanford (both are in the MPSF conference as the Bears). Hopefully, the program will be around to close that gap and return to men’s college gymnastics mountain top for the first time since the 1997-98 back-to-back NCAA titles.


Conference Championship Week

It’s a very busy week of conference championships for the Golden Bears (in addition to the last week of class for the spring semester). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the time to make an earlier post to promote their conference championships and the seasons have ended for both Cal Beach Volleyball and Cal Lacrosse on Thursday.

Cal Lacrosse returns to MPSF Tournament for first time in new head coach Brooke Eubanks’ tenure

Golden Bears improved on their win total from an year ago in 2017, from winning 4 games to 5 games. The last win, a tight 16-14 triumph against Fresno State confirmed a top 6 finish in the MPSF conference (Pac-12 will start a lacrosse conference in 2017 so this is the last year for the Bears in the MPSF). Just making the MPSF tournament is a big achievement for the Golden Bears in 2017.

Unfortunately, the Bears were up against Bay Area rival Stanford in the first round on Thursday. Stanford ended the Cal season with a 19-5 victory. Senior Jena Fritts picked up 3 points (2 goals and an assist) to finish the year as the clear top Cal scorer. Fritts and defender Meredith Haggerty are named to the All-MPSF team (Fritts on 2nd, Haggerty on 1st). While the Bears have steadily improved in each of head coach Brooke Eubanks’ 3 years at the helm, there are plenty of room for more. Bears can point to their 4 1-goal losses as opportunities missed.

Cal Beach Volleyball ends year with two losses at Pac-12 Championships

Speaking of another team on the steady rise, but with plenty of room to go, 20th ranked Cal Beach Volleyball ended their season as a team at the Pac-12 Championships on Thursday. With top player Mia Merino out due to an injury, the Bears lost to host Arizona 5-0 and then Washington 5-0 to be knocked out of the double elimination tournament. As a team, the Golden Bears are done.

Achieving the best ranking ever for the squad in the short history of beach volleyball, the Cal season will continue with the top 2 pairs of Bryce Bark/Olivia Rodberg and Nicole Anderson/Grace Campbell competing as pairs today at 3 pm (in play-in match). With just one player on the team that also plays on the indoor team (Jessica Gaffney), it would be interesting to see if that trend continues or not when a new replacement for retiring Cal Volleyball head coach Rich Feller is named. For comparison, the Stanford Cardinal, their national title winning indoor team takes up half of the beach roster.

Cal Women’s Water Polo looks to book a spot in NCAA Championship with win over ASU in MPSF Tournament

The most important of the conference tournament has to be that for No.5 Cal Women’s Water Polo. The Golden Bears need to be in the top 4 (leap frog Arizona State Sun Devils) to make the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. The Golden Bears will essentially have a play-in game against ASU in the MPSF tournament opening round match.

The important match between Cal and ASU will take place at 2:30 PM PT today (FRIDAY). The entire weekend tournament will be streamed on FLOSwimming ($$$).

Even with Calympian Roser Tarrago ends up being injured for the most part (she only played in one match this year), Golden Bears could be a factor in the NCAA championship this year. They first need to book their spot there. I hope I will get to write more about the Bears’ chance at a first NCAA title in program history later this year.

Pac-12 Championships for Golf and Tennis

Cal women’s golf placed 10th out of 11 teams at the Pac-12 Championships. Nevertheless, they will get to play for a spot in the NCAA Championship when they compete in the NCAA regional from Albuquerque.

The Pac-12 Championships are equally just a tune up for Cal men’s golf and men’s and women’s tennis. All of them are NCAA regional or tournament bound regardless of the results from this weekend.

From Ojai, California, both Cal women’s and men’s tennis teams are strong contenders to possibly win the conference title. The women’s tennis format has changed to that of the team format from singles/doubles in 2017. Cal Bears, who finished 2nd in the regular season after a Big Slam home 4-3 loss to Stanford last week, will seek revenge this weekend. Bears easily defeated UW 5-0 in the opening round. They will play USC at 2 pm today.

The Cal men, back to being ranked 10th in the country after a Big Slam rout of Stanford, are the 2nd seed behind USC in their conference tournament. Should the Bears make it to the championship round (to be broadcasted on the Pac-12 Networks), we should have open threads for those this weekend.

GO BEARS!