How about that? Combine with the well publicized win by Cal Football, Cal Athletics went 9-0 across all sports last weekend.
What is more impressive is that most of these Cal squads were winning on the road. Cal Field Hockey went 2-0 in New England. Cal Volleyball went 3-0 from Houston. Winning their lone match of the week, Cal Water Polo, Women’s Soccer, Men’s Soccer were also victorious.
Let’s take a closer look at the Golden Bears triumphs:
Cal Volleyball (8-1) - Big Spike at the Farm on Wednesday 9/20
After starting the season 1-1, Cal Volleyball is currently in the middle of a 7 match winning streak (though Bears often do drop a set in each win). Granted, the quality of opponents during this stretch can’t compare to that of the upcoming Pac-12 play. Nonetheless, freshman outside hitter Mima Mirkovic has emerged as a deadly offensive weapon (2.79 kills/set to go with 3.36 digs/set) alongside senior Antzela Dempi as the opposite (team best 3.12 kills/set) to complement 4-year starter in Christine Alftin. Bears have continue to play two setters in MacKenzie Albrecht (who starts the matches) and Isabel Potter as the two-some have 208 and 172 assists, respectively. Jessica Gaffney (maybe there was an injury to Amanda Kirtley, named libero starter at the start of the season) has taken over the libero role from Maddy Kerr.
Last week, Bears took care of Incarnate Word (3-0: 25-15, 25-17, 25-23), Rice (3-1: 25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 29-27), and Louisiana Lafayette (3-1: 20-25, 30-28, 25-23, 25-16). There were some close sets, but those are often the most important experiences to have in the out-of-conference season.
To be honest, I won’t have a reasonable assessment of the team until they are on TV a bunch after the start of Pac-12 play, which starts next Wednesday night at Stanford (be on the lookout for a gamethread for this 8pm PT match). Still, it is promising to see the new Matt McShane era starting on a roll. Bears will honor the old Rich Feller era this weekend from Haas before the match against St. Mary’s tonight at 7pm PT. Bears will also host Pacific on Saturday at 7pm PT.
Cal Field Hockey (3-3) - hosts Pacific in conference play opener
On the heel of a very successful road trip to Rhode Island and Massachusetts last week, Golden Bears will open America East play by hosting Pacific on Saturday afternoon at 1pm PT.
Last week, Bears routed Bryant 8-0 before edging Northeastern 2-1.
Thanks to these wins, Golden Bears sweep the America East awards. Freshman Megan Rodgers earned the rookie and offensive player of the week thanks to her 5 goals and 1 assist. Sophomore goalkeeper Danielle Mentink earned the defensive player of the week honor.
With the three wins already on the season (over UMass at home is the other one), the Bears showed that their season opening close 2-0 loss to a top-5 ranked Syracuse is no fluke. Golden Bears may be ready to challenge Stanford as the lone ranked west coast Field Hockey team in NCAA.
If you are interested in checking out Cal Field Hockey at their new Underhill Field home, admissions to home matches are FREE for everybody.
Cal Men’s Soccer (2-2)
Also equalizing their season record is Cal Men’s Soccer, who earned a tough 2-1 (2 OT) road victory at Portland. Bears (Shinya Kadono) scored the equalizer just a few minutes after the Portland Pilot had gone ahead in the beginning of the 2nd half. Bears added the Golden Goal in the 103rd minute when Simon Lekressner headed in a goal for the win. Both goals were assisted by redshirt senior Jose Carerra-Garcia.
Filling in seamlessly for Jonathan Klinsmann (who had turned pro), new Cal goalkeeper starter Drake Callender was named conference player of the week for making 9 saves in the match.
Bears will have two more weeks before Pac-12 play begins (on the road at UCLA). This week, Cal will host Yale (tonight at 4:30pm PT on Pac-12 Networks) before a short trip to University of San Francisco on Sunday.
Cal Women’s Soccer (5-1) - hosts Oklahoma schools ahead of Pac-12 opener next weekend
Cal Women’s Soccer won their lone match of the week in a dramatic 2-1 (2nd OT) victory at Sacramento State. The Golden Goal scored in the 104th minute was by sophomore Abi Kim, her 4th of the young season. Earlier, Miranda Nild scored the equalizer in the 86th minute, her 3rd goal of the season.
With the win, the Bears jumped up 7 spots to 17th in the country.
This weekend, the Golden Bears will host two major conference opponents in Oklahoma (today at 1:30pm PT on Pac-12 Networks) and No.14 Oklahoma State (Sunday at 11 am PT).
Pac-12 play starts next Saturday for the Bears when they visit Washington at 7pm PT. That match will be streamed for free online.
Cal Men’s Water Polo (6-0) - living up to the expectation of being the defending champs thus far
Top ranked Cal Men’s Water Polo started their home schedule with two wins. They followed up the Wednesday win over UC Davis (mentioned in last week’s Golden Medals) with a Saturday 15-11 win over Pacific, who are ranked No.5 in the country (but honestly, the Bears have no excuse losing to any team outside the top 4 - USC/UCLA....maybe Stanford).
Luca Cupido led the way for the Bears with 4 goals. Masmanidas added 3 goals.
More importantly, the Bears collected their national championship rings last Saturday.
We've got some really big rings! pic.twitter.com/KpoPlaVxCy— Cal Water Polo (@CalWaterPolo) September 9, 2017
Bears host Pepperdine and UC San Diego today and tomorrow at Spieker Aquatic Complex.
Head coach Kirk Everist did an informative Q&A with Water Polo Planet last week that is worth a read.
How special was it for Cal to win it all at home last year—beating UCLA and USC in overtime to win the NCAA title?
We were fairly consistent all year. We beat SC early in the season fairly handily and they beat us fairly handily a few weeks later. We were in one-goal games with UCLA the times we played them. We all knew that it was going to come down to that last weekend—when anybody could win.
Having [NCAAs] at home doesn’t hurt. There’s added pressure there—logistics that you’re not dealing with when you’re on the road.
Our team got better and better as the year went on. We had guys who were gone for the year training with the Olympic team, so incorporating Luca [Cupido] back into the team slowly as the season went on. We got better as he got better.
We did the same thing with Odysseas [Masmanidis], he missed 8 games of the season for the junior European championships.
We were putting pieces together as the season went on and we continued to improve as a group and were able to put together at the end in the last few weeks.
You mention incorporating players that had been in international play—including the Olympics—last year. You had a number of players away this summer as well How much is that a factor coming into this season?
There was [Johnny] Hooper, Luca, Nick Bisconti, and Ethan Wojciechowski on the U.S. Junior Team. [And] two Greek kids: Oddysseus and Nikos [Delagrammatikas]. And right now we have Nick Carniglia and Connor Neumann at World University Games. We had of upwards of nine guys. Pedro [Stellet] went to FINA World with Brazil. We’re all over the place this summer and they’re all slowly coming back in.
Hooper’s probably the most fatigued having gone from Senior Worlds back to back to Junior Worlds a week later. That’s a lot of load on the body and a lot of intense games. You get worn out physically and mentally, so incorporating those guys back into it, making sure that they’re ready for October, November and early December is more important than the second week in September.
I’m confident that we have a number of players that will step up when needed to. We’re in this for the long hall and we don’t want to sacrifice the end for the beginning.
You go into the new season as a co-favorite to win the MPSF title and are the odds-on choice to capture a second-straight NCAA title.
Yeah, I think we’re a program that every year wants to be able to look themselves in the mirror and say that on any given day we can win a championship. I feel like we return a tremendously talented group; we’ll have to replace some seniors that graduated; every year you graduate kids that that you’re not going to replace completely.
But kids step up that didn’t play the year before, kids step up that come in as freshmen, that’s kind of where we are right now—seeing where those people are early in the season. We’ve got a tremendously talented team, a team that’s very versatile.
We’re all excited about our ability to compete again for a championship.
Goalkeeper Lazar Andric, who was fantastic for you all last season and in the NCAA final, is now an assistant coach. Who will replace him in the Cal cage?
Lazar had a great couple of years for us but we have some good returning goalies—Kevin Le Vine, Spencer Tag, Bernardo Correlli—that are all competing for minutes. I don’t think anyone has completely locked in as the number one goalie, but they’ve all had really good moments over the summer. We won’t have Lazar obviously in the cage but defensively we can be a good team and we have a lot more experience on the outside.
Two-meter defenders Chandler Jarrels and Thomas Carroll graduated—that’s another position that we have to address with incoming freshmen. We have a great kid, Nicos Geramatikas coming in as a two-meter defender from the world championships. Ryan Hurst from Huntington beach is another two-meter defender that I think will give us really good minutes. Mikey Williams, a sophomore out of San Ramone played a decent amount last year at the end, wasn’t in our final roster, He played a lot of minutes out of the year as a true freshman. He’ll give us great minutes.
Nick Bisconti was a 2-meter defender on the Junior Team for the U.S. We got a lot of depth there it’s just young depth. At the end of the day we can always use Luca at that position. He’s by far the best two-meter defender in the country when I use him there.
I don’t use him there that often but if you watch the final games against UCLA and USC he played an awful lot at that position because we needed it. He’s excellent at that position but it’s taxing so you use it when you need it.
Like I said, we’ve got a lot of versatility. We’ll be a scary team on the offensive end. Our defense will come as we learn each other’s [strengths] and figure out what we do really well.
Cal Men’s and Women’s Golf season has started
Cal Golf and Cal Tennis are essentially spring sports that have year round tournaments. I am planning to use more of a spring Golden Medals on the Cal Golf’s chances at NCAA championship glory, but I will mention how both the men (minus one stud in Colin Morikawa who was helping USA win the Walker Cup - the Amateur Ryder Cup essentially except the European team is just UK and Ireland) and the women started their year this past week.
The Cal men placed 9th in the Carpet Collegiate Classic hosted by Virginia (but actually took place in Georgia). Freshman Kaiwen Liu paced the Bears with a 9th overall finish. More importantly, back representing Cal is the trio of studs who all redshirted last year to focus on their academics: KK Limbhasut, Jamie Cheatham, and Sebastian Crampton. With this trio and Morikawa, I see a 2 year window for Cal Men’s Golf to win program’s 2nd NCAA championship.
After his Walker Cup heroics, Morikawa (a junior) will join his Cal teammates in Illinois this weekend. Quite frankly, I will be disappointed if the Bears didn’t challenge (top 3) for the win (if not win this tournament) this weekend.
For the Cal women, they finished in a tie for 14th from the Branch Law Firm Invitation in Albuquerque, NM. Cal Women’s Golf only needed to replace the graduated senior in Lucia Gutierrez for a squad that went to the NCAA as a team in spring of 2017. Jiyoon Jang, Marianne Li, Maria Herraez, Amina Wolf, and Marthe Wold were the five-some for the Golden Bears. Bears won’t be in action next until the first week of October from the Windy City Collegiate.