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Golden Medals: NCAA Championship time for women’s water polo, men’s & women’s tennis

Cal Women’s Golf advances to NCAA Championship via a 5th place finish at the NCAA Regional.

Both Cal men’s and women’s tennis will host 1st and 2nd round action this weekend from Hellman Tennis Complex.
Holly Roberts (Cal Men's Tennis instagram)

It will be another busy weekend of Cal Athletics action with national championship (Women’s Water Polo, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Tennis), conference championship (Men’s Crew, Women’s Crew, Track and Field), Senior Day (Cal Softball), and rivalry action (Cal Baseball). Check back tomorrow for a separate post tomorrow to preview the Cal vs. Stanford baseball series and (hopefully) a more extensive Cal Women’s Water Polo semifinal preview.


Cal Women’s Water Polo vs. UC Irvine in NCAA Quarterfinals

Given the lofty success and expectation of Cal Aquatics, Cal Women’s Water Polo (15-9) merely making it to the NCAA championship field will not be enough. In the first year under new head coach Coralie Simmons, the Golden Bears have challenged UCLA, Stanford, and USC without an actual breakthrough win. Before we dwell too much on those close calls, we should also point out how the Bears have suffered a 6-7 home loss to Arizona State - a loss that the Bears had to avenge in the MPSF opening round (9-7 win) to make the NCAA tournament.

UC Irvine (23-6), Big West champions, are more similar in skills to ASU than the top 3 of UCLA/Stanford/USC (the only three schools to have won a women’s NCAA championship, by the way). Two of UCI’s 6 losses came against ASU (8-9, 7-12), but they came early in the year. The Anteaters currently have a 14 match winning streak dating back to the beginning of March, including an OT win in the Big West tournament final against Long Beach State. Junior Mary Brooks is the Big West Player of the Year and the Anteaters’ leading scorer.

Cal will take on UC Irvine from Indianapolis on Friday morning at 10:45 AM PT. Live video of that match can be found HERE (NCAA.com website). Should the Bears be able to advance, they likely will face UCLA (who plays Wagner on Friday) on Saturday at noon PT before taking on the winner of Stanford/USC in the championship match on Sunday at noon PT.

With a big help from the home pool advantage, Cal Men’s Water Polo just got in the field with the last at-large bid (like the Cal Women) and proceed to win it all last December. Let’s see if the Cal Women, still very talented (lead by the great all around games of Hungarian Calympians in Dora Antal and Anna Illes and an experienced senior goalkeeper Madeline Trabucco in front of the cage) even with some key injuries, can duplicate this tough feat.


Cal Men’s Tennis takes on Tennessee Tech & Northwestern/Utah State in NCAA 1st and 2nd round

The California Golden Bears men’s tennis are the 8th overall seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament meaning that they get to once again open the NCAA tournament at home. Golden Bears are coming off a Final Four finish in the NCAA tournament last year and are looking to make the Final 16 yet again which would mean a trip to Athens, Georgia.

Bears are coming off a Pac-12 tournament semifinal loss to USC, but both fellow Pac-12 teams in UCLA and USC are are strong contender for the NCAA crown (owned by Virginia, who eliminated the Bears in the 2016 semifinal, for the past two years).

If you have read my Big Slam previews, the Bears lineup really shouldn’t be that different for the postseason. Bears have plenty of experiences in seniors Florian Lakat and Filip Bergevi to lead the way in doubles and singles. The only newcomer that didn’t experience last year is freshman Bjorn Hoffman.

It would be a huge upset if the Bears are knocked out this weekend. Nevertheless, this weekend marks the last chance for local Cal fans to see the team (and the women’s team) in action this year.

The Bears start their NCAA journey at 1 pm PT on Friday. A potential 2nd round match against either No.21 Northwestern or No.45 Utah State will take place on Saturday at 3 pm PT. The usual Cal Tennis stream will be available for both the men’s and women’s action this weekend.


Cal Women’s Tennis takes on San Jose State & LSU/Tulsa in NCAA 1st and 2nd round

The California Golden Bears women’s tennis are the 13th overall seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament. They are also looking to make the trip to Athens, Georgia for the Sweet 16 round and beyond, but they have a somewhat harder road than the Cal men.

Runner-ups to Stanford (2016 NCAA defending champs...yeah, it hurts me a bit to type that) for both the regular season and Pac-12 tournament titles, the Cal women’s tennis team is also quite experienced with deep NCAA postseason runs in recent years (they also made the Final Four last year). Seniors Maegan Manasse, Denise Starr, and graduate transfer Maya Jansen lead the way for the Bears along with junior Karla Popovic who has really stepped up her game this year.

More Bears at the Oskis

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The Cal women will start their play on Saturday at noon PT against San Jose State. The second round match will take place on Sunday at noon PT.

I would be very disappointed if the Cal Women’s team season ends this weekend. This season saw the Bears hit some rough patches, particularly when Manasse was out for a bit, but the Bears are back to full strength for the stretch run.

I am fully expecting to write a lot more about both Cal men’s and women’s tennis for their next round of play on next Thursday.


Cal Women’s Golf advances to NCAA Championship

An year after just missing out on qualifying for the NCAA Championship by one spot, Cal Women’s Golf made some clutch birdies in their last holes of the Albuquerque Regional (this past Monday through Wednesday) to cement a spot in this year’s NCAA Championship - to be played in Illinois.

The very international lineup for the Bears finished in a tie for 5th place at the Regional, despite shooting +14 on the final day as a team under very windy condition. Norwegian junior Marthe Wold lead the Bears with a +3 finish. Spanish freshman Maria Herraez was tied for 2nd on the team with American sophomore Marianne Li, who made the NCAA Championship as an individual last year, at +6. Peruvian senior Lucia Gutierrez and Korean national freshman Jiyoon Jang will look to play better.

TEAM RESULTS POS / TEAM / RD 1 / RD 2 / RD 3 /TOTAL / TO PAR

1 / Stanford / 290 /283 / 293 / 866 / +2

2 / Duke / 297 / 288 / 288 / 873 / +9

3 / Pepperdine / 287 / 290 / 302 / 879 / +15

4 / USC / 296 / 285 / 303 / 884 / +20

T5 / California / 295 / 291 / 302 / 888 / +24

T5 / Miami (FL) / 303 / 288 / 297 / 888 / +24

CUT LINE

7 / NC State / 301 / 294 / 295 / 890 / +26

8 / Washington / 295 / 292 / 304 / 891 / +27

9 / Campbell / 297 / 298 / 298 / 893 / +29

10 / Oklahoma State / 304 / 286 / 308 / 898 / +34

11 / Illinois / 306 / 287 / 308 / 901 / +37

12 / Denver / 305 / 300 / 298 / 903 / +39

13 / SMU / 302 / 301 / 302 / 905 / +41

14 / New Mexico State / 307 / 297 / 305 / 909 / +45

15 / Sacramento State / 310 / 298 / 303 / 911 / +47

16 / Cal Poly / 308 / 312 / 315 / 935 / +71

17 / Houston Baptist / 314 / 310 / 326 / 950 / +86

18 / Texas Southern / 365 / 350 / 355 / 1070 / +206

CAL RESULTS POS /PLAYER / RD 1 / RD 2 / RD 3 / TOTAL / TO PAR

T11 / Marthe Wold / 72 / 71 / 76 / 219 / +3

T24 / Maria Herraez / 72 / 72 / 78 / 222 / +6

T24 / Marianne Li / 73 / 75 / 74 / 222 / +6

T49 / Lucia Gutierrez / 78 / 76 / 74 / 228 / +12

T62 / Jiyoon Jang / 79 / 73 / 78 / 230 / +14

NCAA Women’s Golf Championships will start on May 19th from Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. Just like the men’s NCAA championships, it will be a mixture of both stroke and match play. Everyone will play three rounds Friday-Sunday before the top 15 (and 9 individuals) advance to a final round on Monday to determine the top 8 teams. Match play of quarterfinals and semifinals will take place on Tuesday with the final on Wednesday.


Cal Men’s & Women’s Crew seek repeat Pac-12 Championship titles

Pac-12 Networks will have tape delayed action (ugh) one week later on Sunday, May 21 at 10:30 a.m. PT. We will certainly spoil the results for you way before that, especially if the Bears can repeat as Pac-12 champs. It should be another fun morning of racing from Lake Natoma, a two km long course that has hosted the Pac-12 Championships yearly, in Sacramento County for the California Golden Bears with the Pac-12 titles on the line.

Pac-12 Championship will be another chance for the Golden Bears (men are ranked No.1 in the country, women are ranked No.2 in the country) to go up against the Washington Huskies (their men are ranked 2nd, women are ranked 1st). Bears defeated the Huskies in the main Varsity 8 races up in Seattle few weeks ago, but the Pac-12 team title will be determined based on the combination of multiple results, like the NCAA championship for the women (men’s IRA championship will be determined solely by the Varsity 8 race).

The Cal men won the Pac-12 title over Washington last year with a dramatic Varsity 8 victory. The Bears victory snapped a 6 year reign of Washington at the head of the Pac. Golden Bears will look to maintain that supremacy in 2017. The schools will race in Varsity 4, Freshman 8, 3rd Varsity 8, 2nd Varsity 8, and Varsity 8. The Cal men’s crew will be seeking their 17th Pac-12 title. After the Pac-12, the Bears will stay on the West Coast for the IRA Championship to take place on June 3rd/4th.

Since 2004, Cal women’s crew have won 11 of the 13 Pac-12 titles (USC in 2007 and Stanford in 2014 are the exceptions). The Cal women’s crew will look to extend their dominance in this competition. Bears won the Pac-12 title in 2016 by winning the Varsity 4, 2nd Varsity 8, and Varsity 8 races to go with a silver in the 3rd Varsity 8. The NCAA Championship for Women’s Rowing will take place Memorial Day weekend from New Jersey.


Cal Track & Field in Pac-12 Championship

Why is the rowing Pac-12 championship delayed by the whole week? Pac-12 Networks will have live coverage on Sunday of the final day of the Pac-12 Championships.

The Pac-12 Championship span both last weekend and this weekend. The highlight for the Bears last weekend has got to be sophomore Tyler Brendel’s 3rd place finish in the decathlon, thanks to some personal records and despite a bit of stumble in pole vault.

The Cal men are 3rd in the team standings after decathlon, but are not really expected to challenge Oregon for the conference title. The Cal women did not score any points in the heptathlon last weekend.

This week, the rest of the events will take place from Oregon. The ranked Golden Bears going into the action this Saturday/Sunday are:

Several Golden Bears enter the meet ranked among the conference's leaders, including 10 who are among the top three in their respective events: Robert Brandt (2nd, 10,000m, 28:48.38), Ashtyn Davis (2nd, men's 110m hurdles, 13.65), Connor Meech (3rd, men's 400m hurdles, 51.01), Peter Simon (3rd, men's shot put, 63-8.25), Bethan Knights (1st, women's 10,000m, 33:31.25), Lauren Martinez (3rd, women's pole vault, 13-8.25), Ashley Anderson (2nd, women's triple jump, 42-9.00, Kendall Mader (2nd, women's discus, 174-7), Destiny Parker (2nd, women's hammer, 202-5) and Ilse Kaaja (3rd, women's hammer, 199-1).


Cal Softball vs. Oregon State in final (home) series of regular season

Cal Golden Bears (28-21, 4-16 in Pac-12) are on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and could use a resume boost with a series win in the final weekend of the regular season when they host the Oregon State Beavers (26-23, 8-13 in Pac-12). Bears are 8th out of 9 in the Pac-12 softball standings ahead of only the rebuilding Stanford team.

Coming into this weekend, the Bears have 1 vote in the Coaches’ poll and has a RPI of 24th in the country, being the 8th Pac-12 team in RPI ahead of Oregon State. A clutch last weekend home series win should be sufficient to seal a spot in the NCAA tournament. Behind the strong pitching of ace Zoe Conley, the Bears earned a pivotal 3-0 win over ASU in their last game.

This crucial three game series started on Thursday with a 4-3 Cal victory. Bears overcame an early 2-0 Oregon State lead by scoring 4 runs in the 3rd inning via the typical 2017 Cal Softball small ball. Conley started the game and got the win. Senior Stephanie Trzcinski came in for the save.

Bears will also celebrate their 7 seniors who have all had great contributions to the program. They are infielder Kylie Reed, pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch, outfielder Vanessa Alvarez, catcher Annie Aldrete, pitcher Stephanie Trzcinski, outfielder Khala Taylor and catcher Alleah Laxamana.

With similar sentiment as what I have expressed for the other Cal teams, I hope to be writing more about Cal Softball beyond this weekend (even if it is getting a bit time consuming to write the updates for all these Cal teams in contention).

GO BEARS!