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Golden Medals: Cal Men’s Water Polo and Cross Country Previews

Can Cal Men’s Water Polo repeat as NCAA champs when the championship won’t take place in Berkeley?

Golden Bears will seek to repeat as NCAA men’s water polo champs and earn the program’s 15th national championship title.
Cal Men’s Water Polo Facebook page

Greetings from North Carolina!

Cal Men’s Water Polo and Cross Country will be the latest Cal teams to start their season this weekend. This week’s previews of Men’s Water Polo and Men’s and Women’s Cross Country will conclude my fall sports previews.

Before we get to those, here are some quick recaps of Cal Athletics actions from this past week.

Opening Day Friday was not kind for the Golden Bears as Cal Field Hockey, Cal Men’s Soccer, and Cal Volleyball all opened their season with a loss. Cal Women’s Soccer also suffered their first loss of the year last Friday - August 25th, 2017.

Cal Field Hockey 0, Syracuse 2 - Syracuse, ranked 5th in the country, only won by 2. Bears got 0 shots on goal in this one.

Cal Men’s Soccer 0, West Virgina 1 - It was a tightly battled match, but the Golden Bears couldn’t find the equalizer.

Cal Volleyball 1, UC Irvine 3 (21-25, 21-25, 25-12, 19-25) - The Matt McShane opened with a home loss to the Anteaters in the Molton Classic opener.

Cal Women’s Soccer 0, San Francisco 1 - Bears fall to 2-1 on the year after being shutout in their first road match of the year.

Rest of last weekend:

Cal Women’s Soccer 2, UC Davis 0 - Bears bounced back with a 2-0 win at UC Davis. Goalkeeper Emily Boyd, who had 11 clean sheets in each of the past two seasons (tie for the school record) had her first shutout of the year. Luca Deza and Miranda Nild scored the goals for the Bears.

Cal Volleyball 3, Loyola Chicago 1 (25-15, 25-23, 19-25, 25-17) - Carmen Annevelink led the Bears with 13 kills while freshmen Preslie Anderson and Mima Mirkovic added 10 and 9, respectively. Junior Mackenzie Albrecht and freshman Isabel Potter each had 20 assists. This is Matt McShane’s first win as the Cal head coach.

Cal Volleyball 3, Seattle 1 (25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22) - Later on the same day, the Bears posted their 2nd win of the season. Mirkovic had 17 kills in this one with Annevelink adding 12. Albrecht and Potter had 23 and 18 assists, respectively.

Cal Field Hockey 4, Michigan State 5 (double OT) - Bears battled back to tie this match, twice trailing by two goals, in regulation before falling in the 2nd OT, on a penalty stroke. 4 different Bears scored their first goals of the season.

It’s another busy weekend of action for Cal Athletics

Cal Men’s Water Polo plays at Triton Invitational on Saturday/Sunday down at San Diego. The defending NCAA champs will open against No.17 Loyola Marymount before a Sunday match and opponent will be decided.

Cal Cross Country will open their season at the University of San Francisco Invitation on Saturday.

Cal Field Hockey (0-2) welcomes two ranked teams to Berkeley this weekend in No.22 UMass (today at 3pm PT) and No.17 Iowa (Sunday at 12pm PT).

Cal Women’s Soccer (3-1) plays host to the visiting Texas Longhorns today at 2pm PT. This match will be on the Pac-12 Networks. Long Beach State visits on Sunday at 4 pm PT. That match is also on the Pac-12 Networks.

Also hosting two matches today and Sunday is Cal Men’s Soccer (0-1). Northeastern and Creighton are the two visitors at 4:30 PM PT and 1 PM PT, respectively.

So for the two doubleheaders at Edwards Stadium this weekend, it will be the Women vs. Texas follow by Men vs. Northeastern today, then Men vs. Creighton follow by Women vs. Long Beach State on Sunday.

Cal Volleyball (2-1) will host the Cal Classic this weekend. They open with a match against Dartmouth tonight. Bears will take on East Washington and Texas Tech on Saturday.

Cal Men’s Water Polo seeks NCAA title repeat

Winning a 14th NCAA national championship in program history last December, the top ranked Cal Men’s Water Polo will seek a repeat championship with the majority of the roster returning. Scheduling of the NCAA championship for 2017 won’t give the Golden Bears the home pool advantage again, unfortunately, as the NCAA Championship will be hosted by USC (last year’s runner-up). Nevertheless, the quest for national title No.15 starts this weekend.

Cal Men’s Water Polo Facebook

The biggest question mark for the Bears’ bid to repeat will come from the cage. Capping his Cal career with a terrific postseason run and the well deserved Most Valuable Player, goalkeeper Lazar Andric has graduated. Bears won the NCAA title with defense and great goalkeeping play, can the Bears find the latter from a new starter?

The three goalkeepers on the roster this year are sophomore Bernardo Carelli, senior Kevin Le Vine, sophomore Spencer Tagg, and freshman Kellan Grant. Carelli emerged as the primary backup to Andric last year, meaning that he’s got 21 quarters of action going into 2017 and the likely starter. If the Tagg name sound familiar, her twin sister Madison is a goalkeeper for the Cal Women’s Water Polo team.

The Cal defense will miss the leadership of Farrel South and will give play time to a bunch of new player. US National team member Nicholas Carniglia is back (and hopefully healthy). Bears’ great defense was also played largely by two way players such as 2016 Rio Calympian Luca Cupido. Cupido, a senior, will serve as the team captain with senior center Pedro Stellet.

Offensively, the Bears will bring back a ton of firepower. Johnny Hooper (75 goals last year), Safak Simsek (34 goals), Odysseas Masmanidis (32 goals), Cupido (30 goals), Jordan Hoover (22 goals), Carniglia (21 goals), Stellet (18 goals), and Conor Neumann (18 goals) are all back. Cupido, Hooper, and Masmanidis were named to the NCAA tournament 1st team with Neumann making the 2nd team. Expect these Bears (and maybe more) to score a bunch of goals again in 2017.

Building on the late success last year, the Bears will look to make the NCAA field not as the last team in. Regular season success over UCLA and USC will be an improvement on last year.

For whatever reason, I have not seen an Under Armour promotion video for the men’s water polo’s new uniform.

Looking way ahead to the end of the year, USC will host the NCAA Championship at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on December 2nd/3rd. The postseason road will certainly be tough playing down in LA. However, if any Bears can turn that tough environment into a Bear Territory, it is these battle tested Bears.

Can No.1 recruit Brie Oakley to bring Cal Cross Country to new height?

Cal men’s cross country has made the NCAA tournament as a team for the last few years. They added a heralded freshman in Steven Khan to the squad for 2017. Robert Brandt, Garrett Corcoran, John Lawson, Paul Zeiss, Kai Benedict, and Steve Correa should all be back although Brandt, a junior who placed 109th at the NCAA to be the top Bear, is currently not listed on the 2017 Cross Country roster.

The addition of Brie Oakley, the reigning Gatorade National Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, to Bethan Knights and Marissa Williams should be enough (IF they are all healthy) to bring the women’s to the NCAA championship as well. Knights made the NCAA last year as an individual and placed 89th in the country.

In college cross country, the men race 10 km while the women race the 6 km.

Cal Cross Country also unveiled their new uniform recently.

The two short diagonal (to look aerodynamic?) Sather Stripes are a new use of those new Cal logo, but I am not sure I like it. Maybe it will grow on me.

The NCAA Cross Country championship will take place on November 18th from Louisville, Kentucky.